Sips n Strokes gifts paintbrush-wielding neophytes the tools and confidence to create, with a mélange of masterpiece-making tutorials and a bring-your-own-beverage policy. Artists can elect a class from the shop's calendar to hone the painting style that best complements their home, office, or neighbor's windshield, including picks of imagery from Parisian scenes to funky roosters. Each course, led by an instructor well versed in the trade, pairs well with the liquid inspiration of each student's choosing. Silence-seeking artists or easily corruptible mimes may opt for an afternoon or weeknight session, as the weekends generally garner 20 to 50 rowdy rookies.
Though admission to the Birmingham Museum of Art's permanent collection is always free, admission to special blockbuster exhibitions may not be. Membership includes one free pass to any ticketed exhibition (family membership includes two passes), special rates on museum classes, invitations to members-only special events, discounts in the museum store, and a slew of other art-enhancing benefits.
In one corner, kids practice cracking a safe. In another, tiny hands sift through sand to find ancient fossils, with no archaeologists in sight. Toddlers, meanwhile, wander through a surreal dreamscape of 10-foot milk cartons and car-sized paper towel rolls. But these aren’t scenes from a zany summer movie about all the adults disappearing: they're snapshots of the McWane Science Center, whose dozens of fun, interactive exhibits enliven science.
Notable exhibits include a collection of Alabama dinosaur skeletons that help us understand what life was like in the state millions of years ago. An aquarium area boasts a Shark & Ray Touch Tank, delighting visitors with an aquatic petting zoo. Interactive contraptions such as the pulley chair lift—which lets kids learn about simple machines as they hoist themselves aloft—convey abstract concepts with fun activities.
The Montgomery Zoo houses more than 500 animals from five continents, including endangered species such as the Indian rhino, the slender-horned gazelle, and the jaguar. Explore more than 40 acres of landscaped, barrier-free habitats chock full of elephants and monkeys, and stop to feed otters, koi, and giraffes, who happily lap up treats from visitors as part of the zoo's Animal Encounters feature ($0.50–$2.00 for feed, not included in the Groupon). The aviary features birds flying about uncaged, taking instructions from loud-mouthed children, and the pedal-boat ride provides a 30-minute float on Crystal Lake.
Inanda Stables boasts boarding and training facilities and teaches equestrian enthusiasts the proper ways to ride and care for their cantering companions. During the two 30-minute private lessons, Centaur top-halves learn the tenets of basic horse safety, the parts of the horse, and the details of the equipment. After gleaning the essentials of the English saddle, horse-top explorers enjoy a leisurely walk and a comfortable trot atop an American Saddlebred horse. Wind down the lesson by soaking in the countryside views and nibbling tea-soaked crumpets atop a four-legged tour guide.
As an award-winning studio, the Alabama Dance Theatre preps professional ballerinas for the stage and delivers classically driven performances to area audiences. The company’s production of The Little Mermaid foregrounds the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of mermaid love with dazzling, bipedal choreography and vibrant music. ADT's resident choreographer, Sara Sanford, invokes the longing of the titular mermaid’s desire to walk on land, find her one true love, and plausibly eat a bowl of soup. The show includes an additional live choir performance arranged by Foye DuBose, a comedic ballet, and a new abstract piece. Premium ticketholders receive a front-center orchestra-level seat, and regular ticketholders are granted a prime spot in the mezzanine. Check the seating chart for additional information. Guests can pick up their tickets at the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre from February 28 to March 4, and it is recommended that will-call tickets be snapped up at least 30 minutes before show time.