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.
Pump It Up's indoor inflatable arenas launch socked striplings into the air with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Staffers supervise fun-filled visits, during which adult counterparts leap around with their kids through gargantuan bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an inflated obstacle course.
The colorful venue also hosts custom birthday parties and private team parties, each themed to please the partygoers in question. These soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. The birthday boy or girl even gets to blow out the candles on their cake seated in their blow-up throne. Occasionally, the staffers switch off the lights, arming the roomful of players with glow sticks and bracelets as they navigate the air-cushioned obstaclescape. Relying on the staffers' vigilant, watchful eyes, guardians can rest assured that their charges will stay safe, and each piece of the inflatable playground is held to the floor and ceiling by a complex series of anchors installed according to strict safety standards.
While idly discussing the prospect of creating a miniature-golf course festooned with elaborate art installations, Michael Taft realized that he couldn’t think of a single putt-putt course in the Bay Area. Fast-forwarding to his retirement plan of owning a small business, Taft snapped up an abandoned video store and enlisted artistic friends and local craftspeople to make his dream a reality. Subpar Miniature Golf’s map of handcrafted holes has players putting their way through Bay Area landmarks, including an Altamont Pass windmill and the Golden Gate Bridge, tricked out with loop-the-loops. A sprawling, hand-drawn mural wraps its way around the room, depicting scenes of NoCal life and tricking gullible coyotes into trying to sprint through the walls.
Subpar Miniature Golf’s ever-growing arcade area keeps button-smashers busy with vintage pinball machines and a pair of air-hockey tables, contributing to Taft's dream of turning the space into a family institution and community fixture. As he told the San Francisco Chronicle, "Every once in a while, you'll hear a giant cheer in the back by a group that sunk a (great) putt. It makes me feel really good, like 'We did that. That's us.'"
A morning photo cruise powered by gentle sunlight and mellow breezes. A spirited afternoon jaunt toward the Golden Gate Bridge. A late-spring sunset trip over waters reflecting the city's skyline and the warm hues of the horizon. No matter the time of day, the waving sails of Afterguard Sailing Academy's vessels ferry passengers on adventures around the sun-kissed waters and iconic landmarks of San Francisco Bay.
Thanks to the academy's team of seasoned captains, tours are only one way to experience sailing's thrills. Their instructors also teach comprehensive American Sailing Association certification courses, which aim to transition ordinary passengers to crew members and skippers for more independent sailing adventures of all types. As students progress, instructors teach more advanced lessons, such as bay basics and ocean sailing. Aside from these lessons, the captains also run a nonprofit sailing academy for youth.
From the cabernet-hued curlicues on the carpets to the gilded columns and soaring ceilings, the Alameda Theatre is steeped in history. During the Second World War, soldiers crowded in to watch films in the auditorium, which also has spent stints as a practice area for rock bands and as a skating rink. The theater was recently brought out of dormancy with an extensive renovation project that restored the glow to its art-deco façades and towering neon sign. Gold leaf, some still intact from the building’s construction in 1932, leads eyes up to a screen 50 feet in width.
A packed schedule of first-run films flickers to life on the big screen, with showings in 3-D letting audiences see explosions leap from the flat surface or watch pieces of the Hulk’s hard-to-program VCR fly past. The historic theater also showcases classic films such as The Graduate or The Wild One every week, and hosts a talent show every Friday and Saturday evening.
Sacred Cross Horse Services founder Ashley Mason has transformed her extensive background in horseback riding and show jumping into a unique training program. At stables tucked away in redwood forests, students attend English-style riding lessons that focus on basic fundamentals such as grooming, tacking, and learning how to bond with horses. The lessons cater to students' individual needs and skill levels while simultaneously prioritizing their education and enjoyment. Sacred Cross also leads horse camps for children, as well as lessons designed to impart a sense of responsibility, teach empathy, and stop them from trying to lead the dog into a canter. Students are required to wear long pants and heeled shoes while riding.