Like most of the 400-plus other creatures at Santa Barbara Zoo, Duncan runs, blinks, and growls. Unlike his fellow animals, however, Duncan isn't real. The life-like adolescent Tyrannosaurus Rex stars in the zoo's 15-minute stage show "How to Train Your Dinosaur," where zookeepers demonstrate the special care given to each actual animal. 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 and Baringo giraffes. 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.
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, seven 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.
After spending years as head coach for the Weil Tennis Academy and tournament director for the Bulgarian Tennis Federation, USPTR professional Dimitar Yazadzhiev now leads a team of professional tennis coaches at Oceanside School of Tennis. Through group and private lessons, the coaching staff aims to help students develop critical areas such as technique, footwork, peak performance, intimidation grunting, nutrition, and strategy. During each camp and clinic, students also take part in fitness sessions with certified athletic trainers and certified conditioning specialists. All Oceanside School of Tennis sessions take place at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort, which is surrounded by a natural enclosure of mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
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.
At tastings held daily from June to August, Jaffurs Wine Cellars tempts oenophilic tongues with five Rhône varietals. Growers in the fertile Santa Ynez, Santa Rita, and Santa Maria wine regions carefully cultivate the future intoxicants on small lots, observing high farming standards and ancient Bacchanalian rituals. With a limited production of about 5,000 cases each year, Jaffurs' winemakers can thoroughly inspect each individual grape, screening out overripe fruitlets and anthropomorphized raisins. The results are red and petite syrahs, grenache, and mourvedre wines that play pleasantly atonal chords of fruit across the palate, an aromatic white viognier with floral and peach intonations, and other varieties that croon seductive verses to receptive taste buds. A private tasting appointment, necessary for groups of more than six, may incur an additional fee ($5/person).
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.