A charter member of the MLS, the San Jose Earthquakes played their first four seasons as the Clash before claiming the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003. Though the team moved to Houston in '05, the franchise was reinstated in '08, bringing professional soccer back to the Bay Area. Buck Shaw Stadium serves as the team's current home, though a new stadium will shoot skyward in 2014, complete with luxury suites for fans and exhausted referees alike.
Palm trees aren't normally present when Kristi Yamaguchi turns a triple axel. But that's par for the course at Downtown Ice, where the former Olympic skater has been known to circle the rink in celebration of a chilly San Jose tradition. Each year, Christmas lights wrap around the tree trunks in downtown San Jose’s Circle of Palms, lighting up the ice rink that spreads beneath the trees' fronds. Designed by rink architect Gil Garcia, the outdoor ice arena enables revelers to partake in a beloved winter tradition without being forced to partner skate with yetis. At night, the palms’ twinkling lights join stadium lighting so that skaters can practice their Scott Hamilton backflips all night long. The temporary ice rink is part of San Jose’s Downtown for the Holidays traditions, such as Christmas in the Park and the Winter Wonderland amusement rides.
Inside Line Racing gives RC enthusiasts a venue to pit their mechanical monsters against radio-controlled rivals in tests of speed and skill. A large, winding foam track provides the arena upon which glory will be won and reputations will be shattered as motor-powered autos careen toward the finish line. Rentals are fully able to hold their own, even against home-brewed speed machines, ensuring a fun and fair hour of competition for beginners and Mario Andrettis alike.
At Wedding Faire, brides-to-be attend edifying panels, peruse wedding wares from hundreds of vendors, and try on around 400 styles of dresses from local bridal salons. Enthused betrothees explore 25,000 square feet of matrimonial merchandise and events, glimpsing new styles at three daily fashion shows and dropping in on workshops featuring wedding tips from industry insiders (some events entail additional fees). At Saturday's wedding luncheon, brides and professionals mingle and enjoy scrumptious eats as wedding maven Sasha Souza presents a collection of her favorite bridal trinkets and tricks. Afterward, a book signing allows attendees to shake Sasha's hand and propose marriage to her.
In 1987, indoor climbing was as unpopular in the Seattle area as breeding labradoodles. But Vertical World––a pioneer indoor climbing gym––introduced the city to the up-and-coming sport of rock climbing in a controlled environment. Since its inception, the gym has expanded to three other locations in Everett, Tacoma, and Redmond, the latter hosting eastside climbers for more than 20 years.
A team of experienced route creators challenges climbers with more than 200 bouldering, lead, or top-rope routes in a wide variety of difficulty levels. The gym hosts competitive youth teams that have gone on to national or world tournaments. The gym's staff of climbers and guides also leads outdoor excursions that build confidence and teach novices how to identify a rock wall in the wild.
With hands gripped to the wheels of karts capable of cresting 45 miles per hour, up to 12 racers hum around the hairpin turns and straightaways of K1 Speed's indoor track during adrenaline-spiking sprints toward the podium. This brand of excitement can be found at all 15 locations, where racers eschew the fumes and inflammatory skywriting of gas kart exhaust for European, eco-friendly electric karts designed to instantly accelerate out of curves, which are bordered by safety barriers that absorb impacts. To keep everyone in the chase, dialed-down junior karts (available at select locations) safely carry tiny drivers between the height of 48" and 58".