While idly discussing the prospect of creating a miniature-golf course festooned with elaborate art installations, Michael Taft realized that he couldn’t think of a single putt-putt course in the Bay Area. Fast-forwarding to his retirement plan of owning a small business, Taft snapped up an abandoned video store and enlisted artistic friends and local craftspeople to make his dream a reality. Subpar Miniature Golf’s map of handcrafted holes has players putting their way through Bay Area landmarks, including an Altamont Pass windmill and the Golden Gate Bridge, tricked out with loop-the-loops. A sprawling, hand-drawn mural wraps its way around the room, depicting scenes of NoCal life and tricking gullible coyotes into trying to sprint through the walls.
Subpar Miniature Golf’s ever-growing arcade area keeps button smashers busy with vintage pinball machines and a pair of air-hockey tables, contributing to Taft's dream of turning the space into a family institution and community fixture. As he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "Every once in a while, you'll hear a giant cheer in the back by a group that sunk a (great) putt. It makes me feel really good, like 'We did that. That's us.'"
The next time you're on the roof of a five-story building, look down at the ground, and you'll get a rough idea of just how high people climb at Touchstone Climbing. The gym's seven locations feature lead walls that rise as high as 50 feet off the ground, though height isn't the only dimension that makes the space feel immense. Each spot has at least 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, not to mention as much as 3,000 square feet of bouldering.
To prevent newcomers from feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the environment, the gym holds introductory classes. During these sessions, participants learn the basic techniques they'll need if they want to conquer the gym's crack systems and boulder problems. The classes are also an opportunity for students to scope out the terrain features at each location, such as Diablo Rock Gym's steep prow, which juts out crookedly like a thumbs up from a dizzy ballerina. While they're at it, the visitors might notice something else: the social nature of the gym. As the San Francisco Chronicle recounts, the fact that lead climbs require two people means that climbers are constantly asking around for new partners and chatting back and forth as they ascend.
Each location also boasts a weight room, cardio machines, and a studio space for everything from yoga to spinning to core classes.
Did you know that, on average, 88% of the seats in a movie theater remain empty during a showing? According to The New York Times, this phenomenon really surprised Sean Wycliffe a few years back when he went to see the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech and shared the theater with only two other audience members. With all the focus on online video services, Sean realized movie theaters were being overlooked, and came up with a concept that could help movie houses fill their empty seats.
His brainchild became Dealflicks, a website that offers customers discounted tickets (sometimes with popcorn or soda) for same-day showings. Customers shop a selection of deals, each of which is specific to a particular film, theater, and showtime, and upon purchase, receive an email voucher they present at the theater's ticket counter. Dealflicks is partnered with theaters around the country, particularly independent and neighborhood venues, such as the treehouse of the enterprising kid down the street.
An intro-to-sailing lesson with OCSC is designed both for beginners who can't tell a mermaid from Ethel Merman and for more-intermediate students of the stern and aft looking to perfect their technique. Skilled and certified instructors teach each lesson, while a low teacher-to-student ratio ensures plenty of attention and instruction for all involved. Your lesson will focus on practical training, creating a prime opportunity to get some on-the-water experience beneath your sails. Over the course of two hours, you'll be exposed to different roles and positions on the yacht, including the position of steely-eyed helmsman. By the end of the salt-sprayed session, you won't be a certified skipper, but you'll have had a sublime time and tasted the sailing experience, which always tastes like a combination of warm brownies and cold milk.
Though it survived six war patrols in the Pacific and an at-sea rescue of 73 POWs, the USS Pampanito is no match for the ravages of salt and wind. That’s why every seven years the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association hauls the 300-foot submarine from its perch at Pier 45 and restores it, piece by piece, to its WWII-era glory. Such meticulous upkeep and respect for original detail have earned the vessel its status as a National Historic Landmark. While the museum's crews keep the exterior free of salt erosion and smudge marks from nuzzling seals, curators use the interior as a gallery for historic artifacts that tell about the ship's accomplishments and the men who ran it. The vessel's narrow halls host the 80-man crew’s letters, memorabilia, and oral histories, as well as interactive educational programs for adults and kids. For an extended visit with history, the ship is available for educational birthday parties that offer access to otherwise restricted areas of the vessel, as well as daylong and overnight outings.
Gymboree offers a bevy of baby-engaging classes, in which parents and wee ones work together to build tots' creativity and encourage development through play. Weekly classes are available for every age from the freshly born sapling to the 5-years-young wise wanderer. This deal includes rhythm-building music classes, sports classes, imagination-expanding art classes, and Gymboree's most popular class, Play & Learn. The month-long membership allows you to take one class per week, with make-ups available during enrollment if you miss a class.