San Francisco Fire Engine Tours & Adventures’ sparkling 1950's Mack Fire Engine carries passengers on themed adventures that combine the excitement of racing toward a fire with the fun of outwitting time. From the vantage point of the "Big Red Shiny Mack Fire Engine," guests catch views of the Bay Area while pretending to be important pieces of firefighting equipment. Tours run year round, and the crew outfits patrons with authentic fire gear to keep them warm while they explore the city on one of the themed tours. Winery tours cruise to Treasure Island, where guests enjoy tastes of signature varietals, while the Golden Gate bridge tour begins in Fisherman's Wharf before heading across the iconic bridge, through the village of Sausalito. Holiday-lights tours capture some of the city's most festive and decorated locations, and Halloween tours creep through Historic Presidio where ghosts are rumored to vacation.
A 9-foot statue of Willie Mays looms over fans at the entrance to AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants since 2000. Along with the team’s many other Hall of Fame inductees, Mays is part of a team heritage that spans more than a century and has garnered 21 National League pennants, six World Series championships, and the most overall victories by a franchise in baseball history. Up to 41,503 fans cheer on the Giants as they swing for the tides, splashing home runs into the waters of McCovey Cove. On the field, players dig their cleats into the kentucky bluegrass blend and slide on the crushed-volcanic-rock infield, dodging the gloves of tagging basemen and onyx claws of lava worms.
The experienced staff at The Peninsula Ballet Theatre Conservatory of Dance nurture awkward appendages into free-flowing figures with their dance and fitness classes. Learn the sultry style of Latin-based beats during the beginning folklorico course with Norberto Martinez, or join flow yoga with Patti Stafford to elongate a rigid endoskeleton. The beginning ballet class enables novice dancers to pirouette to work and the grocery store, and the synergy Pilates class swiftly strengthens the core for upcoming sit-up competitions against the neighborhood snap bracelet.
At Bay West Ballroom, students learn how to tango alongside their identical twin, whether they were actually born with one or not. The studio's eastern wall of mirrors stretches for 60 feet, ensuring that students’ reflections are always visible as they spin on the sprung beech-wood floor. On the opposite side, windows admit sunlight and scenic views of the hills, creating an ethereal space where seasoned instructors demonstrate ballroom, Latin, and swing dance styles. Drawing from a diverse curriculum, these instructors cover a broad spectrum of disciplines that range from the cha-cha to the country two-step, encouraging practice in both the classroom and social settings. For example, lessons on popular salsa steps prepare pupils to spin at nightclubs, and wedding courses customize choreography to match a chosen song at elegant receptions.
Directors Mark and Andrea Nelson-Novak have both earned championship titles, and Andrea draws on a degree in biology to better inform her protégés on anatomy, movement, and the location of the body’s rhythm glands. The pair enlists other experts—including US Country and Swing Champion Tony Gutsch and Grand National Latin Finalists Dima and Olga Sukachov—to helm specialized and regular classes. The team also hosts holiday parties each year.
At Marin Murder Mysteries, dinner mates may ask you to pass the rolls just before they begin chipping away at your alibi. That’s because guests are both suspects and sleuths during the theater troupe’s interactive performances, attempting to tally the clues and pinpoint the culprit's motive. Each year, the cast and crew serve up three to four different shows that inject generous portions of slapstick into the familiar detective genre. The writers and directors have a particular fondness for the noir-soaked era of the 1950s, with such past plays as Remains to be Seen, Murder Me, Always, and Death of a Doornail. During the show, guests have the option to dine on a gourmet dinner or sip cocktails from a cash bar.
Leona Norman founded Marin Ballet more than 40 years ago, holding classes in her own home. As an internationally trained and acclaimed dancer, Norman hoped to bring the same high-quality teaching she experienced abroad to dancers of all ages in Northern California. At her studio, which has expanded greatly to fill a bright and spacious facility in San Rafael's historic Dominican neighborhood, the current staff pursues the same mission of high-quality dance education under the tutelage of artistic director Cynthia Lucas, who trained under Norman.
The studio now welcomes more than 600 adults and youths per year to hone their fancy footwork with a schedule of more than 100 classes per week. Ballet makes up the majority of Marin’s curriculum, with training programs that start wee ones as young as 3 years old on the path to learning advanced techniques and pointe skills into adulthood. To balance out ballet-heavy schedules, students can enlist in infusion training, which covers such styles as modern dance, Pilates, jazz, flamenco, and West African dance.
The students and their instructors also choreograph and present showcases and performances of such ballet classics as The Nutcracker, the beloved tale in which giant nuts ransack a village and are eventually destroyed by the heroic Nutcracker.