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.
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.
At iCandy Pole Dance Studio, 11 poles await 11 students. The small class sizes ensure that each gal receives individual attention from the seasoned pole-dancing instructors. During group classes and private parties, they teach ladies of all shapes and abilities pole-dancing techniques while helping them forge stronger cores, improve their coordination and flexibility, and boost their self-confidence. In beginner classes, gals get acquainted with pole-dancing basics, which include gracefully pulling yourself up onto the pole. More-advanced tricks include performing inversions, or the Chinese pole technique, and gripping the pole with only the left pinky toe. In addition to leading pole-dancing classes, the instructors motivate women to whip into shape in fitness- and fun-focused hula-hooping and burlesque classes, and to channel their inner divas in chair-dancing sessions.
As founder of Four Star Farm, Natalie Rooney Pitts instills proper horsemanship techniques in each rider, whether they’re saddling up for simple enjoyment or dreaming of one day prancing onto the Olympic podium. Natalie and her team of trainers introduce new equestrians to the sport via lessons that allow students of all ages and experience levels to take the reins without having to own their own enchanted rocking horse. Atop one of the farm’s fully trained mounts, pupils learn the techniques of English-style riding—including eventing, dressage, and show jumping—while building self-confidence and a mutual respect among man, animal, and belt buckle. The ranch also offers boarding and training services, and youngsters can take part in camps and club events offered throughout the year.
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.
Picking a criminal out of a lineup is hard, but at Bodega Bay Sailing Adventures, the staff knows that picking a plant out of a lineup is even harder. On the company’s naturalist tours, naturalist Katja Svendsen arms passengers with comprehensive ID cards, printed with pictures and descriptions of local flora and fauna. As they identify the plants as well as the whales and seals native to Bodega Bay’s hamlet, Svendsen explains topics such as the causes of tides and human’s impact on the bay. Meanwhile, US Coast Guard-licensed captain Rich Crumley steers the sailboat. Crumley can also captain the 33-foot vessel during traditional tours, supervising passengers while they steer to ensure they don’t turn in a tiny circle forever.