The meaning of art may be subjective, but Mission: Renaissance believes that the basic, technical skills needed to create art are learnable, regardless of a student’s age or experience. The instructors at the studio, which was originally founded in 1975, illuminate the Gluck Method, which focuses on the classic rendering techniques that the great masters used on their first computers. The classes can accommodate students as young as 5, and they explore a number of different mediums—including charcoal, watercolors, and oils—while giving attendees the experience they need to appreciate art, as well as create it. Spread across 19 studio locations in southern California, attendance is capped at around six students per instructor, which allows them to offer artists more personalized feedback and more fitting nicknames.
At OC Fitness Boot Camp, exercise isn’t just about summoning an instant endorphin rush or fitting into a smaller pair of jeans a few weeks down the line. It’s about helping people live longer, healthier lives. Held at scenic parks and beaches, workouts help participants cultivate a love of fitness that endures when life throws them a curveball or a water balloon filled with chocolate pudding. Here, participants of all fitness levels cheer one another toward goals during strength-building exercises such as burpees, squats, push-ups, and sit-up variations. In addition to torching calories, running and jumping drills fill the group with energy, like a pep rally led by anthropomorphic lightning bolts. A seasoned instructor oversees each camper, doling out exercise demos, technique tips, and a hearty dose of motivation.
Chris Brennan competed on mixed martial arts' highest stage in 1998, taking part in two bouts in the same evening at a UFC event. Not long after that, he founded Next Generation MMA, which has grown from a gym in Orange County, California, to six locations worldwide. At the Frisco location, Brennan and other experienced instructors such as Olympic gold-medalist wrestler Kendall Cross instill discipline, respect, and self-defense moves to children and adults at their 24-hour-access fitness center—one of the few 24-hour martial-arts centers around. Each of their martial-arts or martial-arts-inspired fitness classes offers an excellent workout, where members kick, jab, and punch bags and the air and learn to block attacks while building muscle and burning fat on Next Generation’s padded floor.
“We believe that every child is a champion.” This mission statement informs the approach that Cal Elite Kids takes with the participants of its programs. Youngsters may learn self-reliance in gymnastics lessons, which take place on an in-ground tumble-track trampoline, on an array of beams and bars, or in the air above an in-ground foam pit. They also develop discipline in dance class; at the Rancho Santa Margarita facility, the five dance studios inspire with views of the surrounding mountains.
Cal Elite Kids’ charges can even learn how to express themselves through athletic theatrical performances or simply improve their 2 a.m. Friday-night karaoke warblings during Glee Elite sessions.
Since the first vines began to climb across Hamilton Oaks Winery in 1989, Ron and Connie Tamez worked with a dedication to craft a selection of fine wines. Having sworn off pesticides and herbicides, the two collaborated with ladybugs and red-tailed hawks that thrive by devouring crop-threatening pests.
Visitors to the Hamilton Oaks Winery are welcome to sample varietals such as chardonnay, zinfandel, and cabernet sauvignon during tastings at the historic farmhouse, which has been on the land since the 1920s. Those fields also contain an orchard and mission and malbec grapevines. The space holds up to 400 people, and it's sometimes available for weddings and other events.
Amazing Grapes Wine Store features a full wine bar where oenophiles can taste selections from the 1800-plus wine inventory paired with eclectic small plates. Order a sample of one of the around 15 wines offered, including the 2008 La Forge Estate cabernet sauvignon ($4 a tasting), which has a ripe fruit aroma and full-bodied palate, and the 2008 Hirsch Vineyards chardonnay from Sonoma ($6 a tasting), which overflows with lemon chiffon unctuousness and a billowy texture like a cloud of butterscotch pudding. Amazing Grapes takes special care to safely store all 5400 square feet of its inventory for optimal aging. To prevent corks from drying out, all bottles are hung upside down or on their sides in a UV-free environment that is not littered with open tanning beds.