Beneath the high ceilings of Cast Away's yarn shop, towering shelves overflow with bundles of color-coordinated wool, cashmere, and alpaca yarn. Cobblers' tool shelves, iron baby bathtubs, and even a dingy retired from its maritime duties catch the runoff, creating a homey space peppered with vibrant colors for a distinctly bohemian feel.
At the center of this antique bliss is a pair of vintage armchairs, where customers can recline and survey how-to books or familiarize themselves with the supplies for one of Cast Away's staff-taught classes. Though the calendar implies a steady buzz of activity, the shop's proprietor doesn't stop there. She regularly books notable authors and designers for workshops and special lessons that center around projects such as knitted afghan squares and lace vests that add old-timey charm to an outfit without forcing one to wear steel gauntlets.
Escape curates friendly competition within its 45,000-square-foot facility, which houses massive paintball and laser-tag arenas. The faux-combat emporium houses two indoor paintball fields, including a castle-themed map in which players defend flags just like peasants did in the days of medieval paint arrowing. Ribbons of light cut through the ominous fog that hangs over the 5,000-square-foot Q-ZAR Lazertag arena, a maze-like structure illuminated by black lights and soundtracked with high-octane beats. After rounds of recreational warfare, guests can relax at Escape's arcade or tap into the building-wide wireless Internet to send an email ordering an ambush on an unsuspecting pal.
Though many outsiders know Sonoma County for its fine wines, the savvy drinkers at North Bay Brewery Tours spread the word about the region’s other specialty: craft beer. A relatively simple outfit, the company only needs knowledgeable drivers and tour guides, a fleet of buses running on eco-friendly compressed natural gas, and enough effort to organize group tours, party buses, and pub crawls. Brewery-hopping tours, their top services, head to three craft breweries each trip. One on-the-bus tour segment demonstrates from start-to-finish how beer is made.
Beer samples will be available for purchase at participating breweries, and complimentary ice-cold water or beer on the bus keeps tour takers thirsts' slaked between stops. Examiner.com recommended the tour as an excellent way to taste a variety of brews while enjoying the safety of a designated driver.
An experienced gymnastics instructor and fitness enthusiast, Gretchen Iniguez firmly believes a fit body leads to a happy life. The seasoned personal trainer discovered Pilates in 2005, instantly falling in love with the way it strengthened her core muscles, improved her flexibility, and uplifted her spirits. Gretchen would continue to train for years in the Pilates practices—including pre- and postnatal Pilates and Pilates for clients with scoliosis—before opening her own studio.
Within Lifestyle Pilates's sunny and spacious facility, Gretchen conducts Pilates classes for men and women of all athletic abilities. She guides students through lively strength-training exercises using a variety of equipment, including spring-loaded resistance machines, hand weights, and exercise balls. Gretchen strives to motivate her students by keeping workouts fresh and engaging, providing constant encouragement, and screaming onomatopoeias when it looks like they're getting tired.
Harnessing a background in both art and education, The Pottery Studio's owner aims to create a community gathering space where kids and adults can channel their individual creative urges into decorative or functional pottery, tiles, and mosaics. Amateur artists can grab provided brushes, dip them in eco-friendly and water-soluble paints, and then coat clay in any of more than 60 hues. Idea books are on hand to help aid in the design as one maneuvers stencils and sponges across mugs and plates, or kids and pets can learn to create a lasting impression without super-gluing themselves to the garage door by making clay hand- or footprints. Once ready, the professional staff dips each earthenware masterpiece into a clear glaze, fires it inside a kiln, and readies it to be picked up within one week. The pro potters also encourage each visiting artisan to bring coffee and snacks, and during evening hours, bottles of wine can tag along to refill adults' juice boxes.