While seated in a boat on Laguna Niguel Lake, visitors feast their eyes on the surrounding rolling hills and lush forestry while taking advantage of 44 acres of fishing spots. The staff constantly stocks the waters with new fish, sending thousands of pounds of rainbow trout, catfish, and other species to swim amid the watery depths. With the fishing arena prepared, they then rappel down on fishing lines to awaiting customers to supply permits, poles, and bait, which they use to entice bluegill and other aquatic passersby.
Though all share the same lake, visitors can embark on fishing adventures in multiple ways. They can wrestle with carp from the lakeside, steer a rented boat, or bob across the water in float tubes, a single-person watercraft reminiscent of the floating easy chairs used by retired penguins.
A rustic Spanish-style farm in the heart of San Juan Capistrano that's been standing since 1890 promises more creatures than just the area's famous swallows. The picturesque estate is part of Zoomars?an all-ages petting zoo that's USDA-approved for cleanliness and the place where more than 100 animals call home. The residents range from the familiar to the exotic: goats, sheep, and potbelly pigs mingle alongside exotic emus, zebus, and zedonks that greet visitors for pets and feeding. One of the zoo's most popular areas is the guinea-pig patch, where some of the farm's fuzziest and friendliest creatures reside. Zoomars also features family-friendly attractions ranging from a miniature train and pony rides to the rustic Miner's Gulch, where panning the water reveals rare treasures such as gemstones and T-shirts from the Led Zeppelin '75 tour.
Owner Carolyn Franks started down the path to animal care in college when she created her own line of dog toys. She soon moved from New Jersey to California where her passion snowballed: developing a full line of pet products, hosting an animal show for kids, running a chain of exotic bird stores, and even traveling to Brazil to learn about animal conservation. In 2005, she used her knowledge to take over the Jones Farm petting zoo, expanding its pens and transforming its brand into Zoomars.
Franks is joined by a well-trained staff of zookeepers and wranglers who share her vision in entertaining kids?and teaching them how to interact with the animals?as they are in caring for and shepherding mammals and birds.
Cherylin Von Aldenbruck has no treadmills or weights at her outdoor "gym." The equipment is leather instead of lead, and your workout partner isn't a beefy personal trainer—it's a horse. After realizing that sitting atop a horse requires muscles to continually stabilize and balance the body, Cherylin founded Equestricise as an alternative fitness venue for anyone who's curious about horseback-riding. Each of her lessons now serve as a strengthening workout for the core and limbs.
Cherylin and her team of certified instructors aren't only concerned with toning physiques, though. They also teach groups how to care for the horses, tack, and stables. Classes cover disciplines from basic equitation to hunt seat skills, and accommodate riders of all experience levels, from beginners to those who can steer a horse blindfolded, even when the horse is also blindfolded.