Surrounded by walls tacked with sunny works of art, rows of easels prop up paintings in progress, their evolving canvases commanding the attention of aspiring artists. This scene plays out every day at Paint Lab, a creative haven where talented instructors ignite pupils' imaginations with positive encouragement. The studio's classes teach the technical elements of acrylic, watercolor, or oil painting while students craft their own rendition of a classic work, capture the human form in figure-drawing sessions, or turn their pen toward anime and cartoons. Adults pique their artistic sensibilities with liquid inspiration during classes that provide refreshments and cheese, and younger Picassos can pay homage to their favorite lunchbox by painting it in battle dress during after-school or weekend children's workshops.
The Green Yogi's team of certified instructors boasts a wealth of yoga knowledge and a dedication to guiding students through power Vinyasa classes that earned the eco-friendly studio Southbay magazine's award for best yoga studio in 2011. The beautiful storefront space envelopes students with gleaming floors made of FSC lumber, energy-saving lighting, and reclaimed furnishings illuminated with floods of natural sunlight to ward off fitness-minded vampires. Students of all skill levels gather in the relaxing space for power Vinyasa class, where they hone physical and emotional strength and balance. The 60- to 90-minute sessions fill the practice space with motivating music as focused downward dogs flow through a dynamic series of postures linked together with deep, mindful breaths.
Miles into the Pacific Ocean, Harbor Breeze Cruises' captain tells a story. He speaks of Pacific gray whales making the journey from the Bering Sea in Alaska to Scammon's Lagoon in Baja California, Mexico, right when—as if on cue—a whale breaks the water's surface. Its blowhole fires a plume of water into the air as sightseers, spread across two decks, feast upon views of the majestic creature and their camera shutters snap furiously to capture the moment.
Up to 80-feet-long, Harbor Breeze's double-decker vessels allow groups to visit the habitats of a diverse group of marine wildlife; tours often spy whale species from blue to orca, dolphins as they leap into the air, and harbor seals as they sign traffic signals to passing boats. Aside from tours, Harbor Breeze Cruises also charters boats for weddings and memorials.
Jacques Cousteau had barely slipped the first scuba tank off his back when Pacific Wilderness opened its doors in 1953. Since then, the shop’s staffers have used their collective expertise to outfit divers with high-quality equipment from brands including Oceanic, Scubapro, Seaquest, and Zeagle.
They also teach PADI scuba-certification courses that range from basic open-water training to advanced rescue diving. Lessons start at the on-land facility's heated pool but progress to weekend-long dives in the waters of San Pedro or the surrounding Catalina Island. The shop's scuba-philes also arrange journeys to exotic locales such as the Sipadan Water Village Resort in Malaysia and the secret depths of Camp David's presidential bathtub.