The paddle wheels of The Sternwheelers' two signature boats churn through the blue-green waters of Mission Bay, transporting passengers back more than a century to when steamboats dominated America's rivers. Across the 100-foot-long William D. Evans, festive events with up to 600 passengers unfold under ornamental pressed-tin ceilings, handcrafted lamps, and the astronaut-crafted stars viewable on the open-air top deck. Handmade masts at the bow lead the ship's way, and its hundreds of decorative bulbs illuminate the bay at night. Bahia Belle, William D. Evans' smaller sibling, offers a more intimate space for gatherings. Its Victorian decor and architecture make way for a stained-glass skylight that beams vivid colors across its interior, resplendent with cast-iron staircases and red-velvet curtains. Weddings, banquets, and other events also take place on the boats between public cruises, each craft's rich detailing setting the tone for trips to remember.
Bursting with beads and jewel-crafting necessities, South Sun Products' inventory equips do-it-yourself jewelers with the tools to craft delicate adornments at home or in myriad classes. South Sun Products manufactured jewelry for two decades before opening its enormous retail store, giving the public access to its colorful treasure trove of rare and natural gemstones and beads. The staffers also stock chains, earwires, and other necessary parts to help crafters easily affix their beaded creations to a loved one's wrist without painful hot glue. An ever-rotating schedule of classes keeps curious beaders enthralled with wire-working, beading, and other jewelry-smithing workshops.:m]]
Inside the colorful CeramiCafe, more than 500 bare pieces of pottery await creative embellishments and an eventual trip to the kiln. Mugs, banks, figurines, and tiles become canvases for visitors, who can personalize them using provided stencils or by covering them with recent grocery receipts. The helpful staff glaze and fire pieces to seal in artwork and create a glossy sheen, with final products ready for debut in five days. Outside the pottery realm, in mosaic projects, artists can use glass tiles, marbles, and broken pottery to doll up picture frames, mirrors, or plaques. Meanwhile, parents can immortalize a child's early days by pressing their tiny hands and favorite action figure into a pad of clay to make a lasting print.
True connoisseurs can taste the character of a city in its beer, especially those cities constructed mostly from hops and barley. Sample the sudsy side of San Diego with today's Groupon: for $89, you get a luxury brewery tour for two from Brew Hop (a $190 value).
Where You Want to Be Tours was launched as a walking-tour company in 2003 and since then has offered tours of San Diego that take locals and visitors to spots such as Balboa Park and the shores of La Jolla. Most adventures last more than two hours, so tourists have plenty of time to stop and sightsee or fold obsolete guidebooks into three-corner hats that will shade their eyes from the sun. Today, the company has expanded its offerings with bike tours of locations such as Pacific Beach and Mission Bay and urban scavenger hunts, which present a hands-on approach to urban exploration, turning tour routes into racecourses and throwing in physical challenges, including Frisbee-throwing contests.
Pacific Sunset Cruises rims evening jaunts around MIssion Bay and the Sunset Cliffs coastline. Cast in the orange and purple hues of dusk, passengers aboard the Privateer pass the waning moments of daylight searching for wildlife sightings or kicking back with refreshments purchased from a fully stocked galley. The ship's resident naturalist comes along, too, sharing insights on the sparkling water and the life within it.