Against the sonic background of percussive strikes and jubilant chatter, bowlers stare down formidable pins on 1 of 36 sleek lanes. The aroma of pizza drifts over the lanes as bowlers topple pins or battle digital foes in the arcade room. Albany Bowl caters to youngsters with bowling-package birthday parties, helping out players under 9 with lane bumpers and surprising them with a visit from Mr. Pin, Albany Bowl's bowling-pin-shaped mascot, who tells the kids all about his favorite sport—basketball. Committed players can sign up for bowling leagues, and spectators can lounge in the sports bar, listening to the cacophonous soundtrack from a leather-seated stool.
Vara Healing Arts helps clients relax and recuperate from injury or stress in three ways. Their instructors teach several different styles of yoga including ashtanga, hatha flow, and vinyasa; and their classes aim to calm the mind, ease discomfort, and strengthen the body. Licensed massage therapists perform more than two dozen specialty and advanced body treatments from acupuncture and aromatherapy massage to crystal therapy and reflexology. Finally, the relaxation center features eight-person saunas, where raised temperatures can induce sweating that purifies the skin, purges toxins from the body, and exercises lazy sweat glands.
Boasting a bacchanal of wallet-friendly selections from local and international wineries (most bottles are under $25), Vintage Berkeley promotes an atmosphere of grape-loving camaraderie. Pick up a limited-edition bottle of 2007 Tayerle pinot noir ($15), culled from old-vine fruit in the Rio San Lucas vineyard in California, or a vivacious and slightly fizzy 2009 Muralhas vinho verde ($15) from Monco, Portugal. To lubricate a languid backyard barbecue or a daunting brick of cafeteria meatloaf, pick up a bottle of 2007 Chateau l’Estagnol ($10) from the Rhone Valley—with solid tannins and rich notes of blackberry and cherry, it has a meaty finish to tame even the heartiest of rib eyes. Celebrate an end-of-summer LAN party with a bottle of 2009 Preston sauvignon blanc from Dry Creek Valley in California, made from organic grapes and featuring flavors of lime, chive, and fig ($16).
Founders Kara Collier and Jasmine Buczek wanted to create a place where anyone could dedicate themselves to health and fitness. To do that, they drew up a recipe that included certified trainers able to work with people of all fitness levels, ages, and experience; an inviting space equipped with all high-end weight and cardio training equipment; and a dash of stylish locker rooms with showers. Next, they mixed in some Classes including spinning, yoga, and Aeroba-cize, which uses dance moves to build overall strength.
In 2005 they they threw the whole thing in the oven and baked up All In One Fitness. There, they make overall health the focus. Every new member gets a comprehensive fitness assessment and accurate BMI measurements. Once clients get into their regimen, trainers start regularly tracking changes with the Integrated functional Coaching System to keep goals in sight. All In One Fitness also offers weight loss programs and personal training complete with packages tailored to each client's requirement. The fitness gurus work one-on-one or with small groups to hone in on weight loss, prepare them for running a marathon, or just start off on the path to living a healthier lifestyle.
A group of teachers and parents founded Habitot Children's Museum in 1998 with one specific mission in mind: to foster children up to 6 years old by encouraging their creativity and natural curiosity. Today, the 4,000-square-foot museum backs up this mission with research—gleaned from studies by scientists, psychologists, and educators—positing that healthy play spurs social skills, creative thinking, and problem solving, laying the foundation for kids to succeed later in life and imprison boogeymen in their booby-trapped closet tomorrow.
At Habitot, kids find such opportunities at small-scale exhibits and themed play areas throughout the museum. Aspiring firefighters steer a small-scale truck, race through a pretend burning building, and maneuver the hose and nozzle from a fire hydrant, all while donning coats, boots, and helmets. Young explorers press buttons, turn dials, and issue commands for pretend space launches inside a 13-foot model rocket ship or navigate a vertical floor-to-ceiling maze designed to mimic worm tunnels. At the waterworks table and pumping station, young engineers manipulate water using buckets, funnels, waterwheels, and pitchers to help them understand H2O’s unique properties, such as how it keeps boats afloat on the arms of a thousand mermen. (At different times throughout the year, the staff transforms this area with a different theme; at times it’s been a car wash, a marine-science lab, or the racing grounds for a rubber-ducky regatta.) Visitors can tap into their inner Van Goghs at the art studio, where they play with soft clays and go nuts on a paintable wall. Habitot also hosts year-round children's camps with themes such as beaches, transportation, space, castles, and science.