Though still the same game at heart, the bowling competitions at Valley Center Bowl take on a sci-fi spin. The center's 30 lanes use flat-screen televisions to report bowlers' scores, play 3-D graphics, and display a digital clock counting down to the robot uprising. During events such as the Rock-N-Bowl, black and colorful lights dance along the walls and floors while videos pour from six 42-inch screens. Electronic entertainment coaxes visitors away from the lanes an into a newly remodeled, 3,200-square-foot redemption arcade that sits beside the Lazer Frenzy laser maze. Recently renovated with comfortable seating and flat-panel screens, Monterey Lanes entices bowlers of all ages to strive for a perfect 300 score while enjoying good company and crisp refreshments from the cocktail lounge. Weekend glow bowling and an onsite arcade keep gamers amused, and the pro shop caters to more serious bowlers. Monterey Lanes routinely lends its slick surfaces to charity events, such as Bowl Over Breast Cancer.
An old-fashioned marquee sign hangs above the entrance to Osio Cinemas, its hand-placed letters broadcasting the six films currently being screened. While the selection changes weekly, the theater always carefully curates a selection of popular films, documentaries, and independent features. That eye for artistry even extends to the refreshments—besides classic popcorn scooped at the concession stand, the on-site Cafe Lumiere serves up slices of cheesecake, squares of brownies, and generally round cups of espresso, all of which may be brought into the theater.
Tucked into the tranquil foothills of Mount Madonna, BellaMar Training Stables and Riding School educates students of all abilities either inside one of two arenas or on the airy stretches of the facility's many trails. Head instructor Elizabeth guides riders through every level of equitation and instructs more advanced students on the styles of dressage and eventing.
New riders begin with private lessons, during which they learn such skills as correct position, grooming, and cleaning tack. Private lessons also maintain an overarching focus on good sportsmanship, emphasizing both respect as well as the importance of never spiking a helmet after a flawless trot. As riders improve, they can then move on to semiprivate or group lessons.
With permanent exhibitions including an observation beehive, snake display, and touch pool full of wiggly aquatic life, the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History appeals to both individuals and families looking to learn more about the naturally occurring world around them. The museum's current exhibition, Bones: An Inside Look at Nature, explores adaptation and biodiversity by looking at the skeletons of different animals, a bone-crown topped with the skelegem of a never before seen whale fossil, whose age is counted in the millions.
The Museum of Art and History's magical meld of contemporary art and Santa Cruz County history came into being in 1996, when the art museum and the Santa Cruz Historical Society were fused. An individual membership gets you free admission to the museum's diverse collection, invitations to members-only exhibition previews, a discount to the museum's public programs, and, among other benefits, resistance to the wail of the banshee. Revisit the days of writing on paper and typing with one finger at the Don’t Forget to Write: Correspondence in the Pre-Electronic Age exhibit, which compares 1918 wartime letters with 2010 Facebook posts and showcases out-of-date communication methods, such as typewriters, fountain pens, and styrofoam cups connected by floss. Machines of Memory: Sculpture and Works on Paper by Joseph Zirker, an exhibit about the Bay Area printmaker's innovative work and methods, displays three- and two- dimensional compositions aglow with biomorphic shapes and symbols.
"The Nick" showcases alternative, foreign, and art-house films in a theater steeped in the stylings of Hollywood. Beyond the elegant marquee lights, in a smoothly styled lobby, the walls are accented with stained-glass detailing comedy and tragedy masks. The retro chic movie house boasts two intimate and two large screens, which will soon play host to a bevy of upcoming shows. Current features include Academy Award nominees Black Swan, Another Year, The Illusionist, and Biutiful, the story of a crime boss who is diagnosed with a serious illness which forces him to reconcile his good intentions with his lawless lifestyle.