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Sports and Recreation



Pointed humiliation

An occasional ass-kicking can keep that ego in line. For those of you who fancy yourselves dart throwers, your chin-checkin’ will come courtesy of Hoops Tavern, where ample doses of humility are served with each bull’s-eye that’s nailed by the darts experts who frequent the joint. Don’t fret. After your pride is torn to shreds, build it back up with America’s favorite remedy: alcohol, which Hoops has to the nines.

(Hoops Tavern, 47 W. Amelia St., Orlando; 407-843-5618)

Peace awaits where Seminoles once died

Powdery white sand. Room to spread out. No crowds. Palm trees. Ah yes, the beach. Here’s one you’ve never heard of, and it’s closer to Orlando than Cocoa, in Seminole County. You can even drive on it (but unless you have four-wheel drive, you’ll probably get stuck). It’s the beach at the end of Lake Harney Road, on Lake Harney near Geneva. You were expecting the ocean? This 6,268-acre body of water was named after 2nd Lt. William Selby Harney, who fought in the 1st United States Infantry during the First Seminole War (1817-1818). As legend goes, Harney and his men camped on the scenic spot, only to have a band of Seminoles make a sneak attack in the dark of night. When one warrior sliced through Harney’s tent, the officer had nowhere to run but out into the water, which saved his life.

(From State Road 46, midway between Sanford and Mims, take a left on North Jungle Road until it intersects with Lake Harney Road. Turn right and keep driving until you reach the water or get stuck.)

Work out in the dark


Best place to shoot pool

1st — Sportstown Billiards

2414 E. Robinson St., Orlando; 407-894-6258;

2rd — Trick Shots

740 Florida Central Parkway, Longwood; 407-331-5393

3rd — Spatz Deli & Billiard Liquor

1025 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; 407-647-3354

Best place to bowl

1st — Aloma Bowl

2530 Aloma Ave., Winter Park; 407-671-8675;

2nd — Boardwalk Bowl

10749 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando; 407-384-0003;

3rd — Colonial Lanes

400 N. Primrose Drive, Orlando; 407-894-0361;

Best local sports team

1st — Orlando Predators

2nd — Orlando Magic

3rd — UCF Golden Knights

Best place to work out

1st — Central Florida YMCA

(multiple locations)

2nd — LA Fitness

(multiple locations)

3rd — Fitness Partners Workout Center

1002 West SR 436, Altamonte Springs; 407-671-4995;

Best yoga studio

1st — College Park Yoga

706 W. Smith St., Orlando; 407-999-7871;

2nd — Full Circle Yoga

972B Orange Ave., Winter Park; 407-644-3288;

3rd — Red Door Yoga

6908 Aloma Ave., Winter Park; 321-438-0771;

Best public golf course

1st — Dubsdread Golf Course

549 W. Par St., Orlando; 407-246-2551;

2nd — Winter Pines Golf Course

950 S. Ranger Blvd., Winter Park; 407-671-3172

3rd — The Country Club at Deer Run

300 Daneswood Way, Casselberry; 407-699-9592;

Best miniature golf course

1st — Pirate’s Cove

8501 International Drive, Orlando; 407-352-7378;

2nd — Congo River Adventure Golf

6312 International Drive, Orlando; 407-352-0042;

3rd — Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course

Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista; 407-560-8760;

Best place to skateboard

1st — Van’s Skatepark

5220 International Drive, Orlando; 407-351-3881;

2nd — Orlando Skate Park

400 Festival Way, Orlando; 407-898-9600;

3rd — Mesh Skatepark

881 W. Warren Ave., Longwood; 407-657-2002;

Best river to canoe/kayak

1st — Wekiva River

2nd — Econlockhatchee River

3rd — St. Johns River

Best city park

1st — Lake Eola Park

195 N. Rosalind Ave., Orlando; 407-246-2827;

2nd — Central Park

Park Avenue, Winter Park; 407-599-3334;

3rd — Fleet Peoples Park

2000 S. Lakemont Ave., Winter Park; 407-599-3399;

Best place to camp

1st — Wekiwa Springs State Park

1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka; 407-884-2008;

2nd — Ocala National Forest

Visitor Information Center, 10863 E. Highway 40, Silver Springs; 352-236-0288;

3rd — Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

4510 N. Fort Wilderness Drive, Lake Buena Vista; 407-824-2900;

Best place to walk dogs

1st — Lake Eola Park

195 N. Rosalind Ave., Orlando; 407-246-2827;

2nd — Fleet Peoples Park

2000 S. Lakemont Ave., Winter Park; 407-599-3399;

3rd — Greenwood Urban Wetlands

1411 Greenwood St., Orlando; 407-246-2283;

Best theme park

1st — Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Resort, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando; 407-363-8000;

2nd — SeaWorld Orlando

7007 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando; 407-351-3600;

3rd — Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista; 407-824-4321;

Best theme-park ride

1st — The Incredible Hulk Coaster

Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando; 407-363-8000;

2nd — Dueling Dragons

Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando; 407-363-8000;

3rd — Revenge of the Mummy — The Ride

Universal Studios Florida, Universal Orlando Resort, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando; 407-363-8000;

Best water park

1st — Wet ’n Wild

6200 International Drive, Orlando; 407-351-1800;

2nd — Blizzard Beach

Walt Disney World Resort, 1801 W. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista; 407-560-9283;

3rd — Typhoon Lagoon

1500 W. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista; 407-560-4141;

Like to go all vamp while you pump up? At World Gym on Semoran, the giant workout area is drenched in the perfect midnight-black hue, a lighting effect accomplished by having only a quarter of the overhead lights on. If you want that dungeon feel where you can work up a sweat or stumble stomach-first into a barbell, this is the gym for you.

(World Gym, 1900 S. Semoran Blvd., Orlando; 407-249-5506;

Straight shooter

Giddyup, partner. Want to play with guns? Want to hear the crack of a rifle in your hands and obliterate everything in sight? Here’s a chance to employ real cowboy diplomacy: Pro Bass Shops Outdoor World at Festival Bay is equipped with a fancy arcade-style shooting range. So what if it’s all plastic and laser beams – tell that to the mechanical skunk you just dropped. Go ahead, ring that bell, make that bucket spin and the piano play by itself. If that doesn’t do it for you, pretend you’re aiming at that mean boss or unforgivable sexual partner. Just keep pumping in those quarters. The satisfaction is endless.

(Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, 5156 International Drive, Orlando; 407-563-5200;

Dog park horror

It’s a dark scenario: Excited barks and playful yelps turn into shrieks of terror, when, Amity Island-like, the pooch-friendly environs of Fleet Peeples Park are transformed into a brunch buffet for Lake Baldwin’s increasingly agitated alligator population. Imagine bloody canine carcasses littering the shore and children weeping – at least those who haven’t been eaten – while the SUV-driving, dog-loving masses who flood the best dog park in town flee in terror. For now, there’s a mere warning sign that gators have been spotted. Though one 6-foot-long beast was pulled out of the lake in May, does that lessen the danger? Absolutely not! You should always live in fear, especially if it prevents you from playing outside with your companion animal. Be afraid.

(Fleet Peeples Park, 2000 S. Lakemont Ave., Winter Park; 407-599-3399;

Stroke victims

Crowded or popular? It’s all in how you look at this highly utilized golf course that doesn’t charge outrageous fees or limit access to members. Set in the middle of the family-oriented Winter Park Pines neighborhood, the 40-plus-years-old Winter Pines Golf Course appeals to democratic duffers who practice fairness on the fairway. The 18-hole, par 67, Lloyd Clifton–designed course is a beautiful, well-maintained public facility with reasonable fees. It challenges proficient players yet sports an atmosphere that doesn’t intimidate novices. It’s a sign of true civilization.

(Winter Pines Golf Course, 950 S. Ranger Blvd., Winter Park; $14.50-$24.50; 407-671-3172)

Dock it

Pretend it’s a beautiful day and you’re cruising out on Lake Dora in your yacht. Now it’s time to stop at Mount Dora for a sandwich and a stroll, but it seems like the city’s docks are always full. Don’t fret; you’ll find beautiful, clean, new floating concrete docks to tie up at nearby at Grantham Point – each one 5 feet wide and 240 feet in length, offering moorage for 50 boats – thanks to a renovation project finished up in 2004. Spot the lighthouse on the eastern shore of Lake Dora and these fine docks will be to your right. They’re free, and so is the adjacent boat ramp. It’s a short walk up the hill to the quaint streets of Mount Dora.

(Grantham Point, at the end of Liberty Avenue south of Tremain Street, Mount Dora)

Be a racing star!

Fun, fun, fun. So you think you’re Jeff Gordon? Get out there and prove it on the go-kart tracks at Fun Spot Action Park. Feel your face freeze with glee as you climb the towering, twisting incline and descend its slopes of doom. Mom and dad can ride the Ferris wheel while you race past that pesky brother or sister who’s always telling you what to do. Bump the back of their car just right, and you might spin them and whoops!, there’s no reverse, so they’ll be stuck.

(Fun Spot Action Park, 5551 Del Verde Way, Orlando; 407-363-3867;

Find sanity on lazy river

Need a break from strip malls and traffic? The Econlockhatchee River is the ideal spot for soothing travel back to simpler times. Get out of your car, take a short hike and suddenly you’re in the Florida that grandma and grandpa used to natter on about. The Econ is equipped with white-sand banks, lazy, tea-colored water and umpteen places to picnic or camp – there are even rope swings hanging from mossy old oak trees! It’s like Disney’s version of Old Florida, except it’s fun and it’s free. The river has many entry points, but a fail-safe favorite is the area where the Econ runs under Snow Hill Road, north of Chuluota.

( eastcentral/trails/econlockhatchee.htm)

Cheap snooze in the sand

Who doesn’t want to live on the beach like some millionaire condo dweller? Camp at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area and be lulled to sleep by the ocean’s waves for just $23 a day! It’s named after the famous Florida folk singer who died there in 1991 while trying to save a drowning Canadian tourist, so the mojo’s good, too. And the first weekend of May, St. Augustine hosts the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival to honor the musical traditions of the Florida troubadour.

(Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area, 3100 South A1A, Flagler Beach; 386-517-2086;

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