For more than 20 years, Channel Islands Outfitters's Paddle Sports Center has helped humans commune with nature through their guided expeditions, courses, and gear rentals. Their expert guides lead kayakers and hikers to California destinations such as Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island, where explorers enjoy picturesque scenery and native wildlife that haven’t yet learned about sarcasm. The outdoor fitness center also offers instruction for outdoorsmen ranging from courses that cultivate Wilderness First Responders to lessons in the art of standup paddleboarding. Meanwhile, their surf shop doles out aquatic equipment such as surfboards, paddleboards, and an array of kayaks that are available in single-seat or tandem models.
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.
Having just completed his studies in winemaking at UC Davis, Mark Cummins headed to San Luis Obispo in a 1970 Volkswagen bus, his belongings wedged into the back. Originally intending to pursue a career in music, his plans changed after taking a grape-crushing job at an area winery and meeting a girl named Andi, who later became his wife.
Today, Mark and Andi share their love of wine with others as the winemakers, tasting guides, and operators of Drake Wines. Since 2008, they’ve produced limited bottlings of small-batch varietal wines culled from designated blocks at local vineyards. They press and age these wines themselves, using grapes from each vineyard's pinot noir, chardonnay, and viognier plantings.
In their downtown tasting room, Mark and Andi, often joined by their two sons, guide guests through tastings of their wines. They pour libations into conventional wine glasses, growlers, or old-fashioned test tubes amid eye-pleasing decor that includes a wood-paneled and painted bar and modern, star-shaped chandeliers. Regular performances by area musicians accompany tastings, with Mark sometimes taking the stage himself to play guitar.
Nick Sanregret's passion for golf began when he was a youngster playing in junior events and dreaming of one day competing against the sport's top players. Over the next 15 years, Nick attended the Golf Academy of America to refine his craft and eventually turned pro in 2008. Today, at Montecito Country Club, Nick applies his cultivated wisdom to tailored instructional programs that help other golfers achieve lower scores and develop their own passion for the game.
In lessons and clinics, Nick's teaching philosophy centers on solid fundamentals, including good posture, correct grip, and course-management skills. Private and group instruction takes place on the driving range, whereas the practice green is the locale for short-game clinics' combination of drills and dueling techniques with sand-wedge swords. Golfers interested in a drastic handicap reduction can enroll in the Player Improvement Program, an all-encompassing boot camp that incorporates ongoing lessons, club fitting, and access to training aids.
Above Giovanni's Pizza you'll find Mesa Hot Yoga, where Courtney Enright combines her two passions: yoga and teaching. A former high-school teacher, Courtney discovered a love of hot yoga, which was ignited when she was accepted into the Absolute Hot Yoga teacher training in Thailand. Popular in Asia and Europe, the Absolute Hot Yoga style has only recently made an appearance in the United States, something that Courtney was determined to help grow.
Classes follow the basics of the 50 poses in the Absolute Hot Yoga series, allowing every part of the body to be engaged. The 60- and 75-minute classes also include variations and modifications, while the 90-minute classes follow the 50-pose series of seated and standing positions. Classes, which range from Rooted in Reggae with reggae music to set the mood to Yoga Core & More for a focused glutes and core workout, are open to all levels.
The California Wine Festival – Monterey Peninsula celebrates the Golden State's vintners by allowing attendees to sample a selection of more than 250 Californian wines. The event includes winemakers and representatives from 53 wineries—including Grgich Hills Estate, Bernardus Winery, and Paraiso Vineyards—as well as booths with artisan cheeses, fresh fruits, and barbecued meats from local, gourmet restaurateurs. Spread across two afternoons and evenings, the festival encourages guests to revisit their favorite wineries or discover obscure gems at a new booth or through a trap door connected to a hidden cellar. The California Wine Festival – Monterey Peninsula aims to support the community by donating 100% of the net proceeds from the Silent Auction to The Food Bank for Monterey County, which distributes food and provides antihunger education throughout the region.