When the local skate park shut down, Jackie Andrews decided to ensure that her son, Beau, would still have a safe, legal place to practice his favorite sport. According to a recent profile in 360 West magazine, Jackie understood the challenges she faced from city officials but simply would not take “no” for an answer. The tenacious single mother of two was no stranger to entrepreneurial feats—nearly two decades ago, with no retail experience, she opened Chelsea's Tea Room, which gradually expanded from a tiny room to a 3,000-square-foot boutique.
Still, Jackie reflects, “opening a skate park is not the easiest thing to do,” and when the time came to build The Pier Skatepark she leaned on the design expertise of San Diego–based skate-park designer Brent Kronmueller. Housed inside a hangar-sized warehouse, his eventual layout would try to capture the sensation of skating outside with touches such as decorative palm trees interspersed among the park’s collection of rails, ramps, ledges, and exasperated high-school principals.
Since opening, the park has attracted not only local skaters but celebrities such as Lil Wayne, who recently paid a special late-night visit. When they aren’t celebrity spotting, guests can earn physical-education credit for school, enhance their skills during five-day summer camps, and hold contests to determine who has the coolest trick or the stickiest grip tape.
Every graduate of The Premium Institute of Bartending Schools' 34-hour mixology program can count on one thing—being hired as an on-call bartender with Premium Event Staffing, a company that provides staff for private parties and corporate events. Like a pie-fight truce, this guarantee benefits everyone involved. Students get to earn income while they use the institute's job-placement services to find a steady gig at an affiliated bar or elsewhere. Premium Event Staffing in turn gets access to bartenders who have completed the mixology program and who know their way around a muddler.
The reason even the institute's most recent graduates are so comfortable behind a bar isn't that they're wearing footie pajamas under their clothes—it's that classes take place in such a realistic setting. Students work at a bar setup that includes bar guns, liquor bottles, and 14 types of glasses, and they learn to pour on a real draft-beer system. This hands-on approach also characterizes the four-hour introductory classes the school holds for people who wish to learn to make martinis, shots, frozen drinks, or other specialties.
Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure places novice passengers alongside professional drivers for ride-along experiences on Talladega Superspeedway. At 2.66 miles around, Talladega Superspeedway is the largest oval racetrack in the Sprint Cup Series and is well-known throughout motorsports. Passengers circumnavigate the speedy circle at speeds of up to 175 mph aboard real racecars once owned by such drivers as Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip, and Bobby Labonte. Before embarking, riders receive safety training and suit up in a full fire suit complete with a helmet with facemask and Hans Device, the same head restraint used by professional heavy-metal guitarists. Talladega Superspeedway is located next to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, which is open daily to visitors.
The NASCAR Racing Experience's team of driving instructors specializes in NASCAR-themed Cinderella stories: at whichever world-famous speedway they're visiting, they give civilians the chance to drive real NASCAR race cars that have actually been raced by NASCAR superstars for a few hours. That means getting behind the wheel of a real NASCAR race car that's been driven by Dale Jr, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and other NASCAR favorites and putting the pedal to the medal. Unlike other racing experiences, there?s no lead car to follow here, you're driving by yourself and yes, passing is allowed! The instructors still offer guidance though, coaching those driving solo over a two-way car radio, and speed-chauffeuring racing enthusiasts around the track on ride-alongs.
"If you make it, you will taste it" is the motto founders Julie Fabing Burleson and Suzy Vinson Nettles envisioned when they created Young Chefs Academy. In addition to giving youngsters hands-on exposure to culinary techniques, kitchen safety, eating etiquette, and table setting, the academy's philosophy ensures that kids like 10-year-old former veggie-hater Camille gain an appreciation for healthy homemade cuisine. With centers in more than 10 states, Young Chefs Academy enriches growing minds ages 3?18 with engaging cooking classes, camps, and birthday parties that impart valuable life skills, such as self-reliance and how to trick a younger sibling into doing the dishes.
During A Piece of Work’s interactive classes, amateur artists receive the supplies they’ll need before relaxing at an easel with a bottle of wine. Background music fills the air and eclectic paintings splash color across the walls in the studio. A local artist demonstrates how to paint a copy of a masterpiece while the class of students follows along, unleashing their creativity and filling canvases with elegant reproductions of works such as impressionist paintings by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. Kids' camps introduce young artists to the famous works of their forebears and impart crucial techniques, while paint-your-pet nights help students re-identify with man’s best friend.