February 2017

Intriguing adventures await along the Gulf Coast

by Edward Schmidt Jr.

  • Gulf Adventure Center, Orange Beach, Alabama

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2017/0217/Feat_Gulf_Gulf Shores, AL ziplining.jpg

    Gulf Adventure Center, Orange Beach, Alabama

    Gulf Adventure Center, Orange Beach, Alabama
  • Sea Star Base, Galveston, Texas

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2017/0217/Feat_Gulf_Racing at Sea Star Base Galveston.jpg

    Sea Star Base, Galveston, Texas

    Sea Star Base, Galveston, Texas
  • Champion Cypress Kayak Adventure, Gulf Shores, Alabama

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2017/0217/Feat_Gulf_HR Champion Cyperess Kayak Adventure, Alabama.jpg

    Champion Cypress Kayak Adventure, Gulf Shores, Alabama

    Champion Cypress Kayak Adventure, Gulf Shores, Alabama

Looking for post-meeting pursuits that will raise the enthusiasm level of the agenda? The magnificent Gulf Coast region, with its sugar-white sand and turquoise waters along Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, offers groups diverse meeting destinations and a spectacular menu of adventure activities.

When your group wants to de-stress from meetings and enjoy camaraderie with other attendees, the options are fun, plentiful and unique on the Gulf Coast.

Even though your attendees may not know the difference between leeward and windward directions, the Offshore Sailing School of Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island is designed to accommodate novice sailors. Founded by Olympian and National Sailing Hall of Fame member Steve Colgate, the program is enjoyable and educational.

“It’s a great opportunity for leadership development or teambuilding during the intensive sailing classes,” said Pam Brown, conference and event manager for the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, which promotes Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island. “The school takes place in the sun along some the most beautiful islands in southwest Florida.”

Each boat is assigned a team of four or five participants with an expert Offshore Sailing School coach, and each team member rotates as captain and crew. The courses can be a half day, full day or multiple days and accommodate groups of up to 30 people per program.

In Pensacola, the National Naval Aviation Museum, one of TripAdvisor’s “Top 25 Museums in the United States” has more than 150 restored aircraft and 3D and HD flight simulators. Museum admission is free and open to the public.

The MaxFlight Simulator allows guests to experience air-to-air combat and stunt flying, and the HD Motion-Based Simulator is a fully enclosed capsule where participants can execute horizontal rolls, longitudinal pitches and vertical climbs.

“As the third-largest aviation museum in the world, we give our patrons near unfettered access to our artifacts,” said Capt. Sterling Gilliam USN (ret.), director of the National Naval Aviation Museum. “Our docents are second to none and do a superlative job relating the rich 106-year legacy of Naval Aviation.”

Groups meeting in the Mobile area have easy access to the Champion Cypress Kayak Adventure presented by Wild Native Tours.

The four-hour guided program in tandem kayaks takes guests to the Champion Cypress, Alabama’s largest cypress tree, with a 27-foot base, and through swampy terrain where alligators, wild hogs and other animals roam. Available for groups of up to 40 people, there’s even a brief swamp hike included.

“It immerses you in a world of cypress trees, dripping Spanish moss and the unique fauna and flora of the swamp,” said Michael Dorie, president of Wild Native Tours. “The tour has a special feel and vibe, and people really learn to appreciate and enjoy the swamp.”

Adventure-seekers should also consider The Wharf Adventure Center, formerly the Gulf Adventure Center, in Orange Beach, where a zipline course takes you as high as 90 feet above the ground at speeds of up to 40 mph. Each tour accommodates 12 participants at a time.

“This exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping experience helps build camaraderie and rewards riders with an amazing panorama of the destination,” said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. “It’s the perfect teambuilding exercise.”

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