By Danielle Charbonneau
Some of the best advice I was ever given is,
“If you live like a tourist in your own town, you’ll never get bored.”
I have found this advice to be remarkably true. As an adventurer by heart and a columnist covering fun things to do in South Florida, I’ve spent the last several years exploring and experimenting. From kite boarding to scuba diving, wake boarding to cooking classes, sensory deprivation to turtle watching, indoor skydiving to high-speed go-carts — I have now tried at least four dozen of South Florida’s most entertaining activities. I have compiled a guide for your summer bucket list, broken into by category.
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TRY FLOATING: Float8
If you haven’t heard of floating or sensory deprivation, it’s a practice that originated in the 1950s by a neurologist named John C. Lilly. He wanted to explore what happens to the mind when it’s completely deprived of sensory input. In the original tanks, subjects were suspended vertically in 160 gallons of water wearing a nightmarish-looking, latex blackout mask that supplied the subject with air and blocked the eyes from light. As the practice developed, the tanks were adapted to allow subjects to float horizontally — first in sea salt water, which was irritating to the skin, and eventually in massive amounts of Epsom salt.
In recent years, sensory deprivation tanks have been used in experimental therapies for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. They’ve also gotten trendy for the practices of meditation and stress reduction. The pods are designed to simulate zero gravity, pitch darkness and absolute silence. By taking away the sensations of sight, weight and sound, one is left with merely themselves — one’s mind and spirit.
Matt and Destiny Beck, the husband-and-wife co-founders of Float8 in Deerfield Beach, created a zen space for locals and tourists alike to experience the magic of floating. The vibe at Float8 is calming and welcoming. The lounge serves Kombucha on tap and fruit-infused water. The walls are lined with stunning psychedelic art on loan from Moksha Arts Collective in Miami. Each of the four private float rooms are stocked with lavender-scented bath products and muraled with floor-to-ceiling photography of picturesque Florida beaches (by Miami-based photographer Jason Korner).
The float pods are about 5-feet wide by 7-feet long (big enough to not feel claustrophobic) and filled with body-temperature water. A foam noodle is provided to help support your head while floating, and soothing music plays inside the pod for the first few minutes to ease you into the process before fading to silence.
There seems to be two ways to approach the tank: one is to meditate, slowing the mind into a deep state of dreamy relaxation; the other is to enter the tank with an intention or problem and let the space trigger creativity. In addition to floating, the Float8 offers workshops, art events and community gatherings. Float8 is located at 616 SE Tenth St. in Deerfield Beach. For more information, visit float8ion.com.
TAKE A TIKI BAR DAY-CAY: On the Beach Watersports
Stepping out onto the sand and approaching the tiki hut for On the Beach Watersports is like stepping into a teletransporter with a direct flight to a remote island in the Caribbean. A rainbow-colored, 27-year-old parrot named Sarah squawks as she dangles upside down from a stick suspended from the beachside stand. You can smell coconut oil and citrus as Kenny the Suntan Man demonstrates his homemade lotions for a guest. Tropical frozen drinks are served from the poolside tiki bar, guests lounge under beach cabanas and the skin-drying sensation of saltwater hangs heavy in the ocean breeze. The sun-warmed sand beckons you to slip off your sandals and dig in your toes.
If you’re looking for a Caribbean-style vacation without going very far, then taking a daytrip to On the Beach Watersports is the perfect getaway. The beachside vendor behind the Wyndham Royal Vista resort provides everything a tropical day should — relaxation, intoxication, excitement and leisure. There are jet skis, kayaks, standup paddleboards, cocktails, sail boats, cabanas and, of course, Sarah the Parrot.
You’ll be greeted by Kenny the Suntan Man, a charismatic and chatty New Yorker who has worked for the beachside vendor since 1983 and started his own suntan lotion line in 1985.
“We get a lot of families that come every weekend. They live in the area and will walk over. The patio bar is open everyday from noon to closing,” he said.
On the Beach Watersports opens daily at 9am and closes between 6 and 7 at night in the summertime. Learn more online at onthebeach.ws. You can also order Kenny’s Under the Sun products at underthesunskincare.com. On the Beach Watersports is located at 1110 S. Ocean Blvd. in Pompano Beach.
FEED YOUR FASHIONISTA: VISIT WORTH AVENUE
Channel your inner Julia Roberts for a “Pretty Woman” day. Grab a floppy straw hat, your biggest sunglasses and designer handbag, then head to Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue. The beautiful boutiques are surrounded by bougainvillea, fashion sparkles in almost every window and palm trees line the pristine Avenue. Sit down to a gourmet lunch at Ta-boo for a taste of real Palm Beach. The restaurant has been open since 1941 (ancient by Florida standards) and is simply a “must” for any day in Palm Beach to be complete.
Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, worth-avenue.com, 561-659-6909
TAKE A DIP, ITALIAN STYLE: THE VENETIAN POOL IN CORAL GABLES
Built in 1981, the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is modeled after Venice Italy and is one of the largest and most beautiful public swimming pools in Miami. Swim into vine-covered caves, lounge on the cobblestone steps like a mermaid or caress your scalp under one of the waterfalls. This tranquil, open-air pool is almost mystical.
2701 De Soto Blvd, Coral Gables, http://venetianpool.com, 305-460-5306
TAKE A BATH, RUSSIAN STYLE: MIAMI BEACH RUSSIAN & TURKISH BATHS
The rustic Russian & Turkish Baths in Miami Beach is a labyrinth of 17 exotic saunas, therapeutic steam rooms and sumptuous massage rooms. This place is a temple of heat and bathing where you can escape everyday stresses to relax, rejuvenate and wash away all the tensions of everyday life. Attractions include an ocean water jacuzzi with waterfall, dry finish sauna, aromatherapy steam room, Turkish steam room, polar bear sauna, infrared sauna, Swedish showers, a warm rain room, an olympic size swimming pool, fitness room, tennis courts and access to the beach. Don’t be caught off guard — the Russian and Turkish baths are not your super fancy spa — they are rather kitschy and quirky. But they also don’t have the super fancy spa price — a one-time pass is only $52. And after you work up an appetite, you can try authentic Russian food, like borscht and cheese blintzes.
The spa is located at the Castle Beach Club Hotel at 5445 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-867-8315, russianandturkishbaths.com
THIS SUMMER ADVENTURE GUIDE IS A SIX-PART SERIES…
Click below to find more great activities to add to your summer bucket list:
PART ONE: GAMES & PLAY | This part of our summer adventure series has adventures to bring out your inner child, challenge your mind and free you to play.
PART TWO: EXPERIENCE NATURE | This part of our summer adventure guide will get you in touch with nature.
PART THREE: ADRENALINE JUNKIES | This part of our summer adventure series has adventures for adrenaline junkies.
PART FOUR: CREATE & LEARN | This part of our summer adventure series has adventures that will get you learning and inspire your creativity.
PART FIVE: RELAX |This part of our summer adventure series has relaxing activities to rejuvenate your mind, body & soul
PART SIX: ROAD TRIPS, DAY TRIPS & BEYOND | This part of our summer adventure series has day trips, road trips and a few travel ideas.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]