Zoo in Soledad

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Winchester Mystery House is an imposing Victorian mansion built by Winchester Rifle heiress Sarah Winchester. The house's floor plan is a study in eccentricity, boasting details including twisting hallways, secret passages, and stairways that lead nowhere. Sarah Winchester built her profoundly odd home in an effort to drive away bad spirits, including that of her late husband, whom she believed cursed her upon his death. While Sarah compulsively remodeled the house until her death in 1922, historians estimate there must have been between 500 and 600 rooms built in total. Due to the extensive remodeling and the ravages of time, only 160 rooms remain—though, by any standard, the house remains a sprawling homage to Sarah Winchester's tormented mind.

Today, visitors make their pilgrimage to the house to witness in person all its peculiar glory. The home is lovingly restored and now plays host to a number of fun, bone-chilling excursions each day. Thrill seekers can stalk through the halls by flashlight during guided tours that divulge the sordid details of Sarah Winchester's nightly séances. History buffs can explore rooms dedicated to period furniture, antique trinkets, and vintage firearms found in the home. A gift shop and café onsite give guests the opportunity to purchase souvenirs, some more edible than others.

525 S Winchester Blvd
San Jose,
CA
US

During Zoo Lights, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo's annual holiday celebration, families are treated to dazzling illumination displays and holiday activities and crafts. Bask in the complimentary good cheer provided by live entertainers, or satiate holiday hungers with free hot cocoa and Santa-approved cookies. Mr. Claus himself will be making special appearances every night, personally accepting gift requests from good boys and girls. Hardcore yuletide fans can snag a photo-op with Father Christmas.

894 W Belmont Ave
Fresno,
CA
US

Allison Gonzalez spent two decades as a ballerina, and more than half of that time using Pilates as a cross-training method. Eventually, Allison earned her instructor certification and began teaching Pilates professionally, utilizing her dancer's grace on Pilates mats and reformers. Nowadays, she helms a studio--Purely Pilates--that stays true to Joseph Pilates' original vision.

Joe, who was a boxer and gymnast, developed his exercise regime in the 1920s with the goal of strengthening the body's "powerhouse"--which includes the abs, lower back and butt, but not the coal furnace at the back of our skulls. His roster of more than 500 exercises, plus his five signature pieces of resistance equipment, continue to influence Purely Pilates' intimate classes today--regardless of which fully-certified instructor leads them and if they are group-style or private lessons.

963 Industrial Rd
San Carlos,
CA
US

What started as a creative way to pay a debt led to the founding of Lemos Farm. Owner Bob Lemos' grandfather was repaid with a cow, so he bought land for the cow and her new calf in 1942, and over the years, the property morphed into a dairy farm, an alien robot, back into a dairy farm, and then a space for horses. Eventually Bob and his father, Arnold, peppered the land with Christmas trees, pumpkins, pony rides, and haunted houses, beckoning families to the sprawling grounds.

Visitors escape urban drudgery and revel in the decidedly country ambience, whether aboard hayrides or visiting the petting zoo for an introductory course in farm-animal massage therapy. During the holiday season, families wander the aromatic rows of the Christmas tree farm, where Douglas fir, incense cedar, and other pines await.

12320 San Mateo Road
Half Moon Bay,
CA
US

More than 50 years ago, Italian-born Enrico Pastorino and his wife, Lorraine, established Pastorino Farms in the Half Moon Bay region. The farm first operated as a wholesale flower nursery, but it later expanded to include a seasonal pumpkin patch, petting zoo, and gift barn. Today, Enrico and Lorraine’s son Hank—along with the third generation of Pastorinos—maintains the family farm, which still sells plants and flowers year-round. Each October, the farm transforms into a harvest wonderland, replete with a pumpkin patch, hayrides, face painting, and scarecrows modeling the season’s hottest overalls.

12391 San Mateo Rd
Half Moon Bay,
CA
US

Traditionally, the zoo provides the comfort of seeing animals that could not make a surprise visit to your backyard; this is a comfort CuriOdyssey dispatches to give weight to its message of science education. The menagerie of nearly 100 mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds primarily showcases local species like the Channel Island fox and the red-shouldered hawk, which have relatively small niches that have been squeezed by environmental degradation and human encroachment. Native species can be glimpsed within a complex of 25 lush habitats, including a 4,000-square-foot walk-through aviary and a replica of the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Sunny, outdoor gardens fill more than 1.3 acres with plots that rotate with the seasons and plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds for live study. Among the science exhibits, Forces explores fundamental forces in nature such as gravity and magnetism. All the exhibits are designed to enable close observation and experimentation characteristic of the scientific method. This aim is supported by shows, such as daily otter feedings—spied from behind the glass of a cross-sectioned riverbank—and a variety of classes.

1651 Coyote Point Drive
San Mateo,
CA
US