Most days, Saul Alcaraz can be found toiling over his 2,000-degree glass oven, often surrounded by an enraptured crowd. A surprisingly graceful practice, his glass-blowing is often as artful as a ballet performed in a volcano as he deftly spins, rolls, blows, and cuts his pieces. Having studied the craft since 1988, today Alcaraz splits his time between making effervescently vivid pieces?such as such as custom lamps and iridescent perfume bottles?and teaching teens and adults to do the same. In classes, he trusts his students to work toward shaping their own forms, even helping them introduce color into their creations to make them more attractive bait for trapping rainbows.
Just two blocks from East Beach and down the way from Stearns Wharf, the crack of bats is a fitting addition to the soundtrack of the nearby crashing waves. Each day throughout the week, baseball and softball fans pop in at East Beach Batting Cages to get in a workout, perfect their swing, or shake off the rust from too much time between batting sessions. At the outdoor facility, eight baseball pitching machines wing balls at batters at 35?80 mph, and six softball pitching machines lob a choice of slow or fast pitches. After working up a hunger, patrons can indulge at Norton's Pastrami and Deli, located onsite, or take a stroll along the beach to see how the seals play their own version of baseball.
Raptors of Rock, Hollywood Crisis, and Trip Aces might not be household names yet, but they?re rising stars in Santa Barbara. That?s thanks to Santa Barbara Youth Music Academy, which specializes in helping talented, dedicated young musicians form their own rock bands and ensembles. Under the guidance of expert musicians and instructors, groups spend time rehearsing tunes, refining their collective playing skills, and developing pithy responses to journalists? questions. The academy likewise encourages students to hone their individual talents during weekly private lessons in instruments such as guitar, drums, and voice. Once the band starts gelling, SBYMA schedules gigs at various venues, including multi-band showcases. For budding musicians interested in a less intensive commitment, the academy also hosts six-week sessions and summer programs.
Like most of the 500-plus other creatures at Santa Barbara Zoo, Duncan runs, blinks, and growls. Unlike his fellow animals, however, Duncan isn't real. The life-like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Lily the Duckbill, and Baby Triceratops Tulip star in a lively 15-minute "cooking show" that reveals how zoo animal diets are created. This compassion is on display throughout the 30-acre zoo, where critters such as female Asian elephants, California condors, and Chilean flamingos roam in open, naturalistic habitats.
Elsewhere on the grounds, guests can ride around the zoo's perimeter in replicas of C.P. Huntington trains from 1863, marvel at stunning Pacific Ocean views or hand-feed domestic sheep. More hands-on experiences are afforded through the zoo's behind-the-scenes packages, such as the Keeper for a Day program, where visitors work alongside pros as they train and clean up after animals. Along with the daily sights available during visiting hours, the zoo hosts events, camps for youngsters, and overnights, where participants can sleep beside the lion exhibit, across the street from the beach.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History seeks to educate its visitors about the world around them through in-depth exhibits on nature, wildlife, and native cultures. A 72-foot blue-whale skeleton stares down and Chumash Indian relics wait for their secrets to be uncovered. Traverse these halls to see everything from outer space, fossils to bears and a nature trail.
At the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, visitors of all ages delight in newfound knowledge about the community around them, soaking up information from a wealth of permanent collections, artifacts, and art. Guests marvel at beautiful Chumash baskets and stonework, paintings and armor from Spanish settlements, and relics of life in Santa Barbara during the 19th and early 20th centuries.