If you've ever tried to beat rush-hour traffic by tethering your car with helium-filled balloons, then you know that hot-air flight should be left to the professionals. The Federal Aviation Administration–certified pilots at Sky Drifters Hot Air Ballooning embark on journeys from the Sierra Nevada foothills daily, and their company has been named one of the 10Best attractions in Sacramento. Whether piloting a small group or private flight, the balloon captains show passengers a bird’s-eye view of the rolling hills, winding rivers and finely crafted comb-overs whose majesty can only be truly appreciated from above. Their aerial transports also play host to weddings in the sky and can provide a lift to those who enjoy BASE jumping from the clouds.
The press certainly likes California Family Fitness, granting the exercise venue such awards as a top spot on KCRA-3's 2012 A-List and Sacramento News and Review's Best of Sacramento 2012 Award. The press, however, isn't the top priority for the gym's staff; they believe that, to quote their about CFF page, “awards don't greet you at the door.” Instead, they depend upon their dedicated staffers at the front desk, chaperones at the Kidz Club play zone, and personal trainers to make families of clients feel at home. Certified personal trainers take aspiring exercisers of all ages through regimens that make use of the 16 available locations' ample workout machinery. Seasoned instructors, meanwhile, hold group fitness classes, free with a membership, fostering community as they incinerate calories during high-energy Zumba, step aerobics, Turbo Kick, and Hip Hop Hustle. Nine of the locations boast pools that host swim lessons taught by certified water-safety instructors.
While hitting the gym, parents can drop wee ones at childcare havens lined with playgrounds and age-appropriate investment manuals. After breaking a sweat on the exercise floor, clients can also shed excess body moisture in saunas and tanning beds.
Amid a vast climbing arena wrought with 11,000 square feet of challenging climbing terrain, Sacramento Pipeworks imparts boulder scaling beginners and expert climbers alike with rock scaling knowhow. Experienced instructors offer a full beginners’ rundown of wall-climbing basics, providing you and your chosen roommate or press secretary with the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the climbing arts. You'll learn safe-climbing procedures and beginners' belaying moves as well as knot tying, top-rope-climbing methods, and wall-scaling, which will allow you and your partner to trade off the climbing and supporting roles before eventually co-writing your Emmy acceptance speech.
When illegally trafficked animals are confiscated from the hands of poachers, they get sent to the safe haven of STAR Eco Station. The dynamic facility serves as a rescue center for these at-risk animals, while also educating youth as an environmental science museum. First-time visitors meet, touch, and learn about the center’s latest crop of exotic animal guests, including spiders, pythons, rare insects, and parrots. STAR Eco Station advocates “preservation through education,” and teaches visiting field trips or groups through unique events such as an all-you-can-eat bug buffet and their Bag Monster, a sculpture made out of the plastic bags used in one year by the average American consumer. Recognized on the state and national level for its philanthropic and educational work, STAR Eco Station is part of the larger STAR Education network, supporting after-school and cultural-enrichment programs for more than 500 schools in 61 districts.
In 1988, the owners of a ramshackle golf course put it up for sale, taking out a small advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle. But where others saw a lost cause, Gordon Morrice saw an opportunity. He quickly bought the course and set to improving it, clearing the rocks and trees littering the fairways, planting new trees, and adding concrete paths to keep wild carts from burrowing into the grass. Over two decades, Morrice and his family transformed Black Oak Golf Course into a facility worthy of a country club, with tiered poa annua greens highlighted by the signature fourth hole—a 131-yard par 3 featuring a dramatic tee shot over water. Along with a regular maintenance staff, at least one member of Morrice's family oversees the course on any given day, retaining a level of personal attention that keeps it from shriveling into a mini-golf course like so many before it.
Course at a Glance:
Full-service snack and beverage bars provide lubrication for moistureless mouths and nourishment for nosh-needy teeth with a menu consisting of sandwiches, snacks, and sodas, and pool tables and video games keep trained fingers in pin-fighting form. The on-premises pro shop allows bowlers to accessorize their outfits with matching balls, stylish wrist guards, and spare shoes for centaur teammates.