At 2,600 feet up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one might expect to find sprawling views of the ocean and surrounding forest and not flourishing vineyards. Yet there are more than 70 wineries dappling the hills at various altitudes, privy to the dewy, cooling breezes of the sea and the richness of the rocky soil. The San Francisco Chronicle speaks to their scattered presence, deeming them "less a cohesive wine region than a patchwork of vineyards." Still, this characteristic isolation has resulted in "a perfect laboratory for winemaking not held hostage to fashion"—no one style dominates in this rustic setting.
Pinot noirs and chardonnays populate the western front, and the east yields cabernets, merlots, and zinfandels. The majority of the vineyards are small and family owned—a fact reflected in their meticulously bottled libations and the matching sweaters of their holiday photos—but though they exist in chosen hermitage, many of them welcome visitors to their scenic sites. They host weddings, festivals, and open events such as Pathway to Pinot Paradise, a self-guided tour of the pinot noir hotspots.
Every week, The Palomar Ballroom's 80-year-old space reverberates with a DJ's Latin beats and synchronized salsa shimmies. Beneath a baroque chandelier, couples twirl passionately enough for the New York Times to deem this salsa party the "spiciest spot downtown." Owner and award-winning ballroom dancer Jeremy Pilling prizes the supportive atmosphere that allows his students to commingle at these parties, whose themes can also cover Argentine tango and swing.
To lead up to its festivities, The Palomar Ballroom hosts drop-in classes, weekly series, rehearsals for routines, and private lessons for dancers that range from beginner to expert. During these sessions, seasoned instructors stress the social aspects of dance while teaching the techniques, rotating partners often so that they can learn different ways to twirl, dip, and ceremoniously lacerate a rug. Visiting dance champions also lead workshops on their specialties, showcasing advanced steps in cha cha, samba, swing, rumba, and other styles.
Trudie Ransom knows just how addictive the sensation of standing above the waves can be. After just a few trips out on her board, she not only began training with the standup-paddleboarding master Andy Whitman from Angulo boards, but also opened up SUP Shack. From her experience shadowing Whitman, she decided the best way to introduce people to the sport was with Angulo’s soft, 10-foot boards, which serve as an easy surface to learn on while spending a day on the waves or taking one of the shop’s classes or tours. Classes never contain more than six students, allowing each student to have the one-on-one attention needed to master the art of balancing and maneuvering the board. Once pupils are sure of their strokes, the shop’s instructors lead guided tours that slip out across the rippling blue mirror and past the sights of the harbor or tackle the more advanced paths past sea-lion habitats. Late-evening tours pause as the sun sets over the ocean, filling the sky with color like somebody inciting peacocks to riot.
Gymnastics Learning Center's experienced instructors engage energized tots with an array of challenging athletic activities that aid children in motor- and social-skill development. KinderGym, JuniorGym, and parent-assisted MiniGym courses teach tots younger than age 6 the fundamentals of muscular movement and how to finally earn their cat's respect. Sixty-minute beginning gymnastics or trampoline classes imbue older pupils with stretching and bouncing basics, and 90-minute intermediate gymnastics or trampoline courses explore more advanced balancing and bounding techniques. Small class sizes ensure that enthusiastic staff can safely escort whippersnappers as they navigate beams, spring from vaults, dangle from rings, or employ the silent treatment on disobedient pommel horses. Customers should check Gymnastics Learning Center's schedule to determine the most appropriate class time and fit.
The team at Tropical Adventures Scuba and Travel teaches classes, repairs equipment, and plans diving trips, all with a focus on building an active scuba community. Seasoned instructors with NAUI and PADI certification lead beginners from the classroom to the ocean, where they meander through kelp forests and master the art of underwater basket weaving. Experts coordinate travel to premier international and local dive sites such as Catalina Island, aiming to make the three to five yearly trips affordable and fun. The crew also recommends new and used gear for purchase or rental, including Oceanic booties, Tusa masks, and radar equipment that helps divers avoid traveling mermaid salesmen.
Studio 831's graffiti-clad interior greets guests with an impressive line-up of functional fitness equipment that includes climbing ropes, medicine balls, barbells, and weight machines. The studio's trainers eagerly customize their instructions during the studio's three offered classes. During CrossFit Workouts of the Day, they'll combine Olympic weightlifting with gymnastics and cardio to build routines whose movements are relevant to daily living, and run through staggered stretches, plyometrics, and strength work during X-Train circuit-style programs. For an aerobic workout and a way to condition muscles with low impact, they lead aerobics routines on trampolines in fun and effective Urban Rebound courses. During one-on-one sessions, they'll design entire fitness plans to help clients achieve their goals of looking slimmer.