From the spectacular and grandiose—such as far-reaching telescopes that penetrate the cosmos and bring back crystal-clear views of the stars—to the most curious minutiae—think "space toilets" like those used by astronauts on the International Space Station—Chabot Space & Science Center captures the science, mystery, and grandeur of outer space in an interactive and educational setting.
The big picture comes courtesy of the observatory's three high-powered telescopes, which grant Chabot with its domed silhouette and provide visitors a privileged view of the stars during daytime and evening viewings. Things narrow in scope once you enter the museum, where interactive exhibits zero in on the smaller curiosities of space and Earth's relationship to it. The aforementioned space toilet is a part of the Beyond Blastoff exhibit, where spacesuits, space gear, and space food paint a picture of an astronaut's day-to-day life. One Giant Leap: A Moon Odyssey gives visitors another taste of space exploration, this time by putting them behind the controls of the original Mercury space capsule, then puts them face to face with a 3.3-billion-year-old moon rock collected during the Apollo 15 mission. Weather becomes more than something to curse at for canceling the ball game or flooding a meteorologist's basement once visitors enter Bill Nye's Climate Lab. There, kids tasked with saving the Earth from storms and melting ice sheets are too busy developing top-secret energy-saving devices to realize they might be learning something.
Chabot Space & Science Center also features shows such as LaserMania, a classic-rock-fueled spectacle where light and sound—a 360-degree cocoon of cutting-edge laser lights set to music by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and U2, specifically—team up for an explosive sensory experience.
In the 74 years between the Paramount Theatre's opening night, when people used to line up to see “talkies” for 50 cents, and 2002, when it was voted Best Mainstage Theatre in a Seattle Weekly Reader's Poll, the palatial venue faded and decayed alongside its Roaring Twenties brethren throughout America. Luckily, former Microsoft Vice President Ida Cole saved it from the rubble heap in the mid-‘90s when she established the Seattle Landmark Association and vowed to render the Paramount "kissable" once again.
Over the course of seven months, the renovation crew expanded the size of the stage wings to accommodate more ambitious live productions. They also cleared decades of grime from the french baroque plaster reliefs, uncovering long-forgotten designs and causing only one long-dormant horror to snap open its eyes dramatically. They also replaced the gold leaf in the floral designs of the wall medallions, repainted all the surfaces in their original 16 colors, and scrubbed each of the 1.6 million crystal beads in the chandelier by hand with a toothbrush. The original Knabe Ampico player piano was returned to its spot on the four-tiered lobby's lush carpeting, and a 21st-century sound system now shares sonic space with the thundering, luminous sonority of the Paramount's fully restored Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Though the Paramount's calendar runs the gamut from rock concerts to standup comedy to Broadway musicals on the scale of Wicked, its decadent Beaux Arts trappings transport audiences to the days when reality was still black and white.
The next time you're on the roof of a five-story building, look down at the ground, and you'll get a rough idea of just how high people climb at Touchstone Climbing. The gym's seven locations feature lead walls that rise as high as 50 feet off the ground, though height isn't the only dimension that makes the space feel immense. Each spot has at least 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, not to mention as much as 3,000 square feet of bouldering.
To prevent newcomers from feeling intimidated by the magnitude of the environment, the gym holds introductory classes. During these sessions, participants learn the basic techniques they'll need if they want to conquer the gym's crack systems and boulder problems. The classes are also an opportunity for students to scope out the terrain features at each location, such as Diablo Rock Gym's steep prow, which juts out crookedly like a thumbs up from a dizzy ballerina. While they're at it, the visitors might notice something else: the social nature of the gym. As the San Francisco Chronicle recounts, the fact that lead climbs require two people means that climbers are constantly asking around for new partners and chatting back and forth as they ascend.
Each location also boasts a weight room, cardio machines, and a studio space for everything from yoga to spinning to core classes.
In the 1940’s, the Boeing School of Aeronautics hangar at Oakland International Airport’s North Field housed some of the company’s brightest aeronautical engineers. Their work produced several early Boeing planes, including the Thorp T-3 and T-5, both of which are now on display thanks to the hangar’s current resident, the Oakland Aviation Museum.
Most of the museum’s exhibits focus on celebrating local aviation history, such as The American Legion’s involvement in the Bay Area and the history of native Californian and Medal of Honor awardee General James “Jimmy” Doolittle. However, the museum’s collection of aircraft features a broader mix, including a replica of the Wright Brothers’ EX Vin Fiz, a TAV-8A Herrier that can take off and land vertically, and the Short Solent III flying boat that was used in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
More interactive sites include flight simulators, a kid’s area, a research library, and occasional Open Cockpit Days that let visitors climb into the cockpit of a real Korean fighter jet and turn the radio up really loud. The knowledgeable staff operates the museum with the goal of both educating visitors about aviation’s proud history on the West Coast and throughout the U.S., as well as to inspire visitors by linking aviation’s past to the future of aeronautical invention.
Measuring in at an imposing 673 yards, the 18th hole at Lake Chabot Golf Course seems, at first glance, like an act of course-design cruelty. There's a catch, though: it's a par 6. The extra stroke, combined with the hole's all-downhill orientation, turns the titanic track into a surprising birdie opportunity.
This final hole caps a breathtaking four-hole finishing sequence that rides the high ground, offering gorgeous vistas without sacrificing course play. At 259 yards, the 15th hole dazzles with tee-box views of San Francisco, Oakland, and the Bay Bridge, but its greatest gift to golfers is a high-risk chance to drive the green (pro tip: keep your driver in the bag; there's less room than you think).
Alongside the championship course, Lake Chabot unfurls a 9-hole, par-3 layout for golfers seeking a shorter round. Shaded by towering trees, the course arcs over the same elevation changes that shape its 18-hole counterpart. Before rounds at either layout, it's not a bad idea to warm up at the driving range and putting green. The Spanish-style clubhouse is also home to the Chabot Cafe, where guests can replenish and enjoy sandwiches artfully skewered with golf tees.
Championship Course at a Glance:
After meeting and falling in love on a Venetian gondola ride, April Quinn and Angelino Sandri decided to bring that romantic experience to others with Gondola Servizio. Drawing from a mutual love for Venetian boating culture and history, they’ve assembled a staff of skilled gondoliers to lead intimate nautical cruises. On these excursions, personal gondoliers in traditional dress serenade passengers with lilting Italian melodies and half-remembered TV-sitcom themes. When not leading standard tours, gondoliers work with professional photographers to orchestrate on-water photo shoots.
Each gondola carries up to six passengers, and sandolos offer a smaller, though still traditional, boat alternative. Gondolas with felzes boast an on-deck cabin where guests sit sheltered from the elements on a love seat behind etched glass windows. A flexible schedule allows significant others to arrange lunchtime jaunts around Lake Merritt or romantic evening cruises beneath the moon’s jealous gaze. While on land, visitors can enter the Bottega Veneziana gift shop inside the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill, which abounds with locally handcrafted jewelry as well as imported shawls, Venetian chandeliers, and the fossilized remains of the first known cannoli.