Captained by multi-instrumentalists Aja Elaine and Daniel Norris, the talented teachers at Music to My Ears have trained many accomplished pupils on a range of instruments. New students can hone their musicality with one-on-one sessions or alongside their peers during group classes in the 15’x10’ ensemble room. Afterward, they can stock up on music books, accessories, or rental instruments in the shop. Players ready to demonstrate their musical chops can rent out the recital room, where up to 45 guests can hear them belt out gorgeous melodies after they quiet the stage's baby grand piano with a pacifier. In addition to concerts, Music to My Ears fills stages with song through its non-profit musical theater program, which annually introduces youngsters to the process of auditioning, rehearsing, and performing in a Broadway-style show.
Clad in masks and wielding toy weapons, combatants crouch, hustle, and weave their way through the many battlefields of Playland. Players trade colorful fusillades at Playland's newest arena—their outdoor paintball field—while in the indoor airsoft theater, challengers duke it out in military-style tactical scenarios. In the laser-tag arena, weaponized beams of light fill the air as fighters compete as the stadium tracks the accuracy of their shots, documents their kill/death ratio, and assigns them to several types of missions. Playland also opens its battlegrounds for the dart- and foam-flying fun of kids' Nerf games.
After leading expeditions in search of underwater treasure, the instructors of Sonoma Coast Divers show their students how to cook and eat the spoils—abalone. They try to conclude each of their abalone diving classes with a group picnic, where everyone can compare their catch in hopes of snagging a record-size shell. Persistent hunters can even compete in the autumn's abalone cook-off, part of a Halloween celebration that includes subaquatic pumpkin carving.
These special events highlight the dive venue's dual emphasis on community and adventure. Whether they are hosting a scuba-certification class, a Stress & Rescue course, or a simple air-fill service, the staff freely shares their passion for oceanic exploration. Their training pathways safely transform patrons from first-time pool divers into instructor-level dive masters. By filling their curriculum with specialty courses—such as night diving, wreck diving, and bubble collecting—they inspire guests to pursue different disciplines. They also plan several trips for all skill levels, guiding tours through local kelp forests and planning weeklong retreats to Caribbean islands.
Founded by three Scandinavian families in 1977, Scandia Family Fun Center flings open its doors and invites families in for afternoons of youthful fantasy. Manicured hedges and lush green mounds dot the center’s challenging miniature golf course, while go-karts rumble past on the Stockholm Raceway. The sounds of splashing and laughter not only indicate the birth of a pirate, but also a gentle collision between Baltic Sea bumper boats, accompanied by the crack of speeding baseballs and softballs at the batting cages. The center’s Scandia Screamer lifts passengers 165 feet into the air before accelerating to speeds of 65 mph, while the Swedish Scrambler opts for a more amenable 25 mph. Visitors can also exercise their opposable thumbs at a fully-stocked arcade, visit Scandia's snack bar brimming with pizza, hot dogs, and churros.
Founded in 2006, the Vincent family's 3-acre ranch makes pups feel right at home when their families can't be there to care for them. "There are no cages here," Andrea Vincent explains on her website. "There are no kennels." Unlike even the best boarding facilities, where dogs are isolated in private suites, the Vincents' maximum of four furry guests roam their house at will. An enclosed outdoor play area stretches 1.5 acres, providing plenty of room for canines to play fetch, investigate odors, or negotiate a peace agreement between themselves and their own tail.
The striped barriers hugging the edges of Driven Raceway’s winding track quickly mutate into a black-and-red blur as emission-free electric go-karts zoom around it at speeds of up to 45 mph. Though the vehicles' superb cornering and speedy acceleration respond swiftly to their drivers' actions, the staff also mans electronic controls that can override their commands, minimizing the risk of colliding karts and clashing radio stations. Off the track, the center maintains the racing theme, peppering the mini-golf course with cars that glow under black lights and painting checkered-flag lines on each of the bowling alley's lanes.