Oakland Zoo was first established in 1922, but it didn?t find its permanent home until 1939, when it was thoughtfully constructed amid the rolling hills of Knowland Park. Today, Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 animals, who thrive in biomes designed to mimic their natural environments.
The sprawling African savannah is one of the zoo?s largest habitats, housing hyenas, zebras, elephants, and giraffes. The centerpiece is a 1.5-acre lion exhibit called Simba Pori, which translates to lion county in Swahili. Inside, a pride of lions freely roam an enclosure outfitted with kopje rock structures, a pond, and a booth where the king can sign autographs.
Over in the rainforest habitat, chimpanzees and white-handed gibbons swing through the treetops. Emus and wallaroos?a cousin of the wallaby and the kangaroo?roam freely in the Wild Australia exhibit, accessible via one of the zoo?s rides, Outback Express Adventure Train. Other rides include the Endangered Species Carousel and Sky Ride, a chairlift that soars above the habitats and offers Bay Area skyline views.
This zoo received its first animal in 1889—a grizzly bear believed to be the last in captivity. More than a century later, it shelters 1,000+ exotic and endangered animals. It’s also home to the a six-acre petting zoo, plus the largest outdoor lemur exhibit in the country and the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world.
By the Numbers: Ardenwood Historic Farm
1849—the year George Washington Patterson began farming this land
1985—the year the East Bay Regional Park District re-opened the property as a fully functioning farm
17 sites to explore, including an aviary, a barnyard, a Victorian garden, a historic home, and a blacksmith shop
1 horse-drawn train to ride, complete with a staff dressed in Victorian-era costumes
5 kinds of animals to visit with, including cows, goats, pigs, and sheep
90+ varieties of birds spotted on the property
18+ types of organic produce available for purchase
3 months to see visiting monarch butterflies, from December to mid-February
Allison Gonzalez spent two decades as a ballerina, and more than half of that time using Pilates as a cross-training method. Eventually, Allison earned her instructor certification and began teaching Pilates professionally, utilizing her dancer's grace on Pilates mats and reformers. Nowadays, she helms a studio--Purely Pilates--that stays true to Joseph Pilates' original vision.
Joe, who was a boxer and gymnast, developed his exercise regime in the 1920s with the goal of strengthening the body's "powerhouse"--which includes the abs, lower back and butt, but not the coal furnace at the back of our skulls. His roster of more than 500 exercises, plus his five signature pieces of resistance equipment, continue to influence Purely Pilates' intimate classes today--regardless of which fully-certified instructor leads them and if they are group-style or private lessons.
Winchester Mystery House is an imposing Victorian mansion built by Winchester Rifle heiress Sarah Winchester. The house's floor plan is a study in eccentricity, boasting details including twisting hallways, secret passages, and stairways that lead nowhere. Sarah Winchester built her profoundly odd home in an effort to drive away bad spirits, including that of her late husband, whom she believed cursed her upon his death. While Sarah compulsively remodeled the house until her death in 1922, historians estimate there must have been between 500 and 600 rooms built in total. Due to the extensive remodeling and the ravages of time, only 160 rooms remain—though, by any standard, the house remains a sprawling homage to Sarah Winchester's tormented mind.
Today, visitors make their pilgrimage to the house to witness in person all its peculiar glory. The home is lovingly restored and now plays host to a number of fun, bone-chilling excursions each day. Thrill seekers can stalk through the halls by flashlight during guided tours that divulge the sordid details of Sarah Winchester's nightly séances. History buffs can explore rooms dedicated to period furniture, antique trinkets, and vintage firearms found in the home. A gift shop and café onsite give guests the opportunity to purchase souvenirs, some more edible than others.
At Happy Hollow, kids can wander through a maze, climb into a giant treehouse, catch a puppet show, and meet two giant anteaters named Xander and Xena, all in the same day. Zookeepers even provide the opportunity to meet some animals outside of their enclosures at various times throughout the day.