Coming Up: See-through canoe offers unique look at lagoon

You can get out, play it safe and still have fun with something that might be very different for you: renting a see-through canoe and paddling along mangrove trails at the Environmental Learning Center. If you get a little squeamish about seeing into those lagoon waters, you can also rent a regular canoe, a kayak and or a stand-up paddleboard. The ELC’s environmental educator Heather Kramer makes this sound like a blast. “I love the canoe,” she said. “I’m a little bit taller, and the regular canoe is really nice. I’m able to sit up straight. My legs are in a comfortable position, like sitting in a chair … It feels a little bit more sturdy.” She has also taken the see-through canoe, which she said is a great experience. “Since the lagoon is on average 3-to-5 feet deep, you have the opportunity to see some of the sea grass beds. The lagoon is prime habitat for young fish, so sometimes you get to spot little fish swimming beneath you. There are mangrove tunnels which are very shallow, so you can see some of the (natural) detritus on the bottom.” And yes, she said, sometimes you do spot some human detritus as well. She just picks that up and brings it back to the dock as part of her “come back with a little extra” effort. The boats and paddleboards are all rented at the ELC’s canoe dock, which is manned by the Tides Water Sports. Guests are provided life vests, paddles and directions. The easy trail takes about 20 minutes. The more advanced trail goes across the lagoon and takes two to three hours. You need to wear closed-toe and closed-heel shoes (no flip flops or sandals). Minimum age to go out on your own is 16 years with parental permission. No one younger than 5. Weight limit is 250 pounds. Cost is $45 non-member and $40.50 member. The Environmental Learning Center is at 255 Live Oak Drive, Vero Beach. Call 772-589-5050 or visit DiscoverELC.org.

The fun continues at Big Shots Golf. Better than renting a golf cart, this is definitely the lazy man’s way of hitting the links. This two-year-old business is on 10 acres and calls itself “a two-story, golf recreation and entertainment experience.” Guests settle into their own tee box, which has cushy seating for six, air conditioning and servers who will take food and drink orders. Technology comes into play as soon as you step up to the tee. You’ll take a swing at an actual ball, and it will go into the actual driving range, but that’s when the real stops and virtual begins. Digital radar tracks your shot and keeps your scorecard. So, yes, you may look over your shoulder as you tee up, but there’s also a large screen off to the side, tracking your ball along a virtual route. You can choose a variety of games, including: “Islands” which has a number of water hazards; “Knock Out” lets you aim at virtual objects; “Long Drive” invites you to hit that ball as far as you can; “Pinball” has bumpers, rails and other objects; and “Golf Courses” has courses from places like Ireland and Marco Island. Fees start at $15 per hour. Tee box reservation costs $50. Hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to midnight Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays. Big Shots Golf is at 3456 U.S. 1, Vero Beach. Call 772-979-4653 or visit VeroBigShots.com.

Stay safe and have fun at home with a whole treasure trove of online “experiences” curated by Airbnb. While you may know Airbnb as the online spot to book personal stays at the homes of hosts the world over, the website also has a great collection of unique activities presented online. You need to book these with the hosts, so you know they’ll be personal since it will be just for you and a few guests. You’ll also need to download the Zoom app. What’s more, they are not free. But you get what you pay for and this looks pretty appealing. There are classes in beekeeping, international cuisines, a coffee master class, a plague doctor’s tour through Prague, a Parisian’s tour of Paris and so much more. One of Airbnb’s best-selling online experiences is the “Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens,” during which you’ll learn how to make sangria from scratch, dance, laugh and probably dish. To get a sense of these classes, visit Airbnb.com and click “Online Experiences” tab, which is on the same line as “Places to Stay.”

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