Managing 27 grocery stores and more than 2,500 employees is a stressful task. Nob Hill Foods owner Michael Bonfante learned that the best way for him to manage that stress was to retreat to a shady, secluded spot surrounded by majestic trees. These occasional escapes into nature inspired Bonfante to found a park dedicated to teaching visitors of all ages?but especially children?how to appreciate horticulture, wildlife, and trees in particular. Along with his wife, Claudia, Bonfante eventually sold his grocery stores and committed all of his efforts to educating the public and spreading his love for nature.
Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park receives virtually all of the Bonfantes' attention now, and it attracts visitors with combination of educational exhibits, carnival games, and amusement-park rides. The map features more than 40 possible destinations where guests can learn something new about local horticulture, enjoy an adrenaline-pumping joy ride, or simply enjoy the scenery. With family-friendly attractions available for all ages, the park includes everything from carousels to paddleboats to a mine-cart roller coaster that takes passengers through a thrilling series of dips and speedy turns. An interactive water attraction called Water Oasis and the Octonauts live show were just added to the roster in 2014.
Even while visitors are standing in line or buckled into a ride, they are still surrounded by nature at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. Five waterfalls?representing the five major styles of waterfalls that occur in nature?gush with torrents of water. The grounds also feature 19 of Axel Erlandson's famous Circus Trees, which he created by grafting saplings so that they grew to form shapes such as hearts, lightning bolts, and basket weaves. In addition to touting the importance of animals such as monarch butterflies and honeybees, the park features six distinctive gardens brimming with informative displays and everything from conifers to tropical and subtropical flowers.
The brand American Apparel, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, conjures up images of stylish and well-fitting fashion basics. It also likely brings to mind sassy advertisements featuring long-haired beauties in natural makeup posing in skin-bearing bodysuits and loungewear.
But what many don't know about the brand?despite its name and the slice of apple pie that comes with every purchase?is that all of its clothes are made in America. Everything from sewing and cutting to accounting and marketing happens in one building in downtown Los Angeles, and the rest occurs within a 30-mile radius. Not only that, every slim-fitting pair of pants, spandex bodysuit, and v-neck T-shirt is made in a sweatshop-free environment.
Plus, keeping everything in house means the company eliminates unnecessary and wasteful factors, such as shipping fuel and packing materials, as well as provides jobs to Angelenos, instead of outsourcing them.
With more than 20 years of equine experience, Jeanette Arnaout instructs students of all skill levels on the fundamentals of horsemanship during lessons and riding camps. Each session carefully pairs riders with appropriate steeds for their skill level, allowing novices to learn basic techniques and experienced stallion tamers to trot to the beat of the hokey pokey. Small-group settings foster an educational atmosphere, and kind, well-trained horses guarantee hiccup-free learning. Lessons include instruction on horse cleaning and care—think grooming and hoof-picking—as well as riding time. Like a molting flamingo, students are encouraged to wear long pants and closed-toed shoes, but Jeanette provides all of the equipment necessary for camps. Those overwhelmed by unruly horses can turn them over to Jeanette for training, during which she gently boosts steeds' confidence to improve their obedience.
The Land Down Under is a continent set beneath a scorching sun—Australian Tan knows, just like Australians, how to harness the light to achieve glowing, bronzy skin. The salon’s faux sun comes from six different tanning booths. The most basic bed imparts a base tan in 20 minutes, while the Instant 770 imparts a rich, long-lasting hue in as few as 10. Meanwhile, the sunless spray-tanning booth houses an automatic system that sprays on UV-free color. Regardless of the chosen bed, the staff can complement sessions with bronzing lotions that enhance acquired tans or help an old trophy get through a midlife crisis with a refreshed façade. Each member of the staff goes through 35 hours of training prior to working in the salon, so they can easily tailor tanning plans to each customer.
Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates along to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
At A-Plus Auto Service Center's 9,000-square-foot facility, ASE-certified techs twist off lug nuts to install new brake pads and pinpoint under-hood problems with the latest diagnostic technology. Their expertise extends to repair services such as overhauling engines as well as routine maintenance such as draining dirty oil and running smog tests that aren't multiple-choice. With connections to dealerships as well as access to parts from factories across the globe, they usually have all parts needed to complete the job on-hand. Those jobs, as well as most of the parts, are covered by their nationwide 24-month or 24,000-mile warranty, which includes roadside assistance.