Though the birth of a child changes the lives of all parents, it doesn’t usually spark inspiration for a new business. But for the Soon family, the arrival of son Jordan Alexander highlighted the need for a place where little ones can explore, learn, and socialize through interactive play. So the parents created Diddalidoo to fill this void.
The Soon family's playground welcomes kids aged 0–4 to play with toys and solve puzzles within its colorful confines. Separate areas cater to different age groups, with a baby area perfect for honing sensory skills and discussing the rising costs of rattles. A two-level playground looms over the toddler play area and creates laughs with its bright-yellow racing slides. Granting breaks from playtime, a quiet room caters to nursing mothers, a boutique shop sells gifts, and an onsite café serves up health-focused snacks and food for hungry teddy bears.
Dart Ops creates a safe indoor battlefield where players vie for victory using toy dart guns loaded with foam ammo propelled by short blasts of air. Neon-colored screens, walls made of mesh netting, and hanging targets pepper the arena space, which transforms into a monsoon of flying foam at the start of each friendly battle. As games progress, players can curl their trigger fingers around more advanced weaponry, including velcro-tipped darts that adhere to targets or the weak spots of enemy sock puppets. A marshall ensures fair play and organizes different types of game play, such as Free for All, Capture the Flag, and Protect the President. Aside from open play, Dart Ops' staff also host birthdays in a party booth and organize monthly Tour of Duty tournaments.
Serra Bowl provides pin hunters with a comfortable, state-of-the-art environment in which to ply their strike-seeking skills. Take advantage of bowling’s distinctively stealthy footwear to sneak up on the flocks of unsuspecting game roosting on the alley’s 44 gleaming lanes—each of which can be outfitted with bumpers, the bowler’s version of a laser scope. A high-tech Qubica scoring system is available to track the pin count and vindicate the view that math skills have no real-world applications, and a friendly staff is on-hand to help with the equipment, explain bowling’s rules, and settle arguments over which of the Wright brothers was taller. Exhausted orb hurlers can replenish their strength at the alley’s snack bar or fully stocked on-site cocktail lounge, or they can opt to give their brains a much-needed break from the complexities of the game with some therapeutic button pushing in the game room. Serra Bowl is open until 2 a.m. or later seven nights a week, and around the clock on Saturdays, giving werewolves a wholesome alternative to their traditional nocturnal activity—drag racing.
"I will honor Christmas in my heart," vows Ebenezer Scrooge near the end of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, "and try to keep it all the year." For five weekends around Thanksgiving through Christmas, the 750-plus costumed performers at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair honor this declaration.
Lauded as "charmingly over-the-top" by the San Francisco Chronicle and "dazzling" by the San Francisco Examiner, the fest comprises more than three acres of exhibition halls. Inside, the fair's creative team recreates Dickens' Victorian-era London, complete with labyrinthine lanes, scone-scented bakeries, quaint pubs, and a rowdy dockside. In the streets and on seven stages, carolers entertain crowds alongside notable guests, including Queen Victoria and Scrooge himself. yelling that famous catchphrase, "Bah! An icky humbug! Somebody squish it!"
GoKart Racer safely curbs the need for speed with its fleet of Sodi RX 7 European racing karts, which come equipped with hydraulic brakes, a four-point racing harness, and a 9-horsepower Honda engine that can reach up to 35 miles per hour. The speedsters weave through each facility's indoor European-style road courses, including the 3/8-mile SuperTrack, which has more than 20 turns, an elevation change, and the occasional hotshot, road-jumping frog.
Before the green flag waves, the staff members equip racers with a racing suit, a helmet, and a brief rundown of the kart's abilities and dietary regulations. They tailor races to different age groups by offering kids? karts, a driving school for minors, and racing leagues for experienced drivers, and they augment traditional racing with a laser maze. The facility also welcomely opens its doors for birthday parties and other events.
Wind Over Water Kiteboarding founder Jeff Kafka tamed both wave and wind as a professional kite boarder and big-wave surfer before starting his own kite-boarding instruction school. During a two-hour beach lesson, beginners soak up kiting basics—including equipment setup, safety systems, wind theory, kite mechanics, and more—from a trained instructor while staying on dry land. Customers also perfect self-rescue, a vital skill for kite-board crashes or pickup lines gone awry. With no more than three people and one ocean in each lesson, there is plenty of individual instruction from Jeff's handpicked instructors, who get wind-whisperers in shape for the next level of instruction by the end of the two hours.