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.'"
The crack of the bat is an exhilarating sound, whether or not the batter is about to run the bases. At Triple Play U.S.A., players can hone their skills in cages that hurl baseballs or softballs at 25–80 miles per hour with more precision than a propped-up leaf-blower. Pitchers can also keep their arms conditioned in the center's pitching tunnel, but they’ll probably have to change up their throwing pattern on the center’s half-basketball court. While resting their arms, patrons can find snacks at the concession stand or catch up on the latest scores on one of two HDTVs.
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.
The party-loving minds behind Yacht Party Cruises wanted a creative way for locals and tourists to explore a city's late-night atmosphere. Eventually they launched a fleet of luxury yachts into the waters of eight of North America's most lively urban waterfronts. On each vessel, festivities abound as DJs spin everything from hip-hop to Sinatra, inviting passengers to shake a leg in between trips to the full bar or buffet lined with hot appetizers. All yachts boast extravagant details such as wraparound decks, fireplaces, or a glass atrium that hangs above the dance floor offering dancers a direct view of the man in the moon's game of solitaire. Guests can also step onto the decks for fresh air or panoramic views of city's skyline.
Though it survived six war patrols in the Pacific and an at-sea rescue of 73 POWs, the USS Pampanito is no match for the ravages of salt and wind. That’s why every seven years the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association hauls the 300-foot submarine from its perch at Pier 45 and restores it, piece by piece, to its WWII-era glory. Such meticulous upkeep and respect for original detail have earned the vessel its status as a National Historic Landmark. While the museum's crews keep the exterior free of salt erosion and smudge marks from nuzzling seals, curators use the interior as a gallery for historic artifacts that tell about the ship's accomplishments and the men who ran it. The vessel's narrow halls host the 80-man crew’s letters, memorabilia, and oral histories, as well as interactive educational programs for adults and kids. For an extended visit with history, the ship is available for educational birthday parties that offer access to otherwise restricted areas of the vessel, as well as daylong and overnight outings.
For longtime dancers Rachel Jackson and Aderemi Rucker, the creation of Destined 2 Dance Studio & Performing Arts took a leap of faith. They had performed together as a gospel-infused praise-dance duo for several years, and had been asked many times about offering classes. In 2003, they decided to give it a try, and since then, they've helped both adults and children express themselves through dance. Classes include ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, and praise styles, and the studio also has its own dance company.
Max Results Boot Camp helps clients work toward their fitness goals by offering a fitness-boosting combination of in-home training, weight-loss programs, and boot camps. Led by owner James Patterson, Max Results Boot Camp's cadre of trainers includes a former Marine as well as athletes with experience competing at the college level. The signature boot camps convene Monday–Friday for 30 minutes of intensive exercises, which recharge weary metabolisms while burning calories like a bonfire in a candy shop. Depending on the day, the instructors stage sweat-inducing boot-camp sessions at Lakeside Park or the Cascade staircase on Lakeshore Avenue.
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