KidZone Museum's slew of interactive exhibits, indoor jungle gym, and other playful attractions reverberate with the sounds of joviality, pique the curiosity of pint-size patrons, and encourage family bonding. Youngsters dive into an aquatic adventure in the Starfish Enterprise exhibit, which features an imagination playground, reef building, and a research submarine that grant aquatic education without Poseidon's dull office stories. Visitors skid down the slide or skirt the climbing wall of the indoor jungle gym, and mini adventure seekers explore the nature-themed baby zone. The nonprofit museum's creative center proffers washable paints, clay, and other art supplies for crafting miniature magnum opuses, as well as occasional classes on topics such as messy science and imaginary-friend value appraisal.
Helmed by nature photographers Elizabeth and Olof Carmel, the newly expanded, 2,600-square-foot gallery showcases vivid landscape compositions, dramatic panoramas, and crisp still-lifes. Pair the sublime color and unmatched tonal range of Elizabeth's images—which have been featured in outlets including Sierra magazine—with poetry from the likes of John Updike and Richard Wilbur in Brilliant Waters ($49.95), a 104-page book ideal for coffee-table display. Calendars containing Olof's scenic depictions of the Sierra Nevada mountains ($16.95) can help repressed naturalists find peace amid drab cubicles, whereas the glossy, picturesque images on the front of 5"x7" notecards ($9.95) divert attention from the Days of Our Lives fan fiction scribbled inside. More devoted photo fans can vanquish blank wall-space with fine-art prints that range from 10"x15" to 6'x10' ($50–$1,000 and up; individuals can use up to 10 Groupons toward one purchase). The prints are available framed, unframed, or mounted on stretched canvas, and they exclusively employ museum-quality archival inks that, like most moustache dyes, remain fade-resistant for 80 to 100 years.
Gentle waves lap against the hull of the Tahoe Cruz as snow-capped mountains and evergreen trees peek through its sails. Helmed by U.S. Coast Guard–certified captains Mike and Jim, the 50-foot sloop glides along Tahoe's tranquil waters for afternoon and sunset cruises that sail travelers around the scenic lake, treating them to views of its abundant nature and grand homes—including Fleur du Lac, where parts of The Godfather Part II were filmed. Mike and Jim lead private charters as well, escorting groups as they take in the sights or race to interrupt a mermaid ex-girlfriend's wedding before she gurgles "I do."
Big Blue Adventure challenges athletes of all experience levels with races in scenic venues throughout California, Idaho, and Nevada. Trail races take runners along paths with stunning views of rivers, lakes, and beaches, and Adventure Races, which sometimes last more than 24 hours, combine running with activities such as mountain biking or kayaking through clean water. All of their upcoming races can be found on their event calendar.
With its gleaming marble demonstration counter, wooden cabinets topped with carved grapevines, and overhead televisions, the teaching kitchen at Nothing To It! Culinary Center would look perfectly at home on a film set. Instead, it sets the stage for the school’s master chefs to share the secrets to baking a flaky, golden pie crust or simmering a fragrant Moroccan stew with more than 500 students each month. Under the helm of Culinary Director, Chef Lara Ritchie, a graduate of New England Culinary Institute in Essex, Vermont, expert gourmands constantly add new hands-on and demonstration classes to their already encyclopedic schedule. Budding Boyardees hoping for a comprehensive approach can take the eight-level techniques series, which starts with knife skills and finishes with advanced techniques such as rendering an emulsified aioli or soft-boiling an egg with telekinesis. Pupils interested in more specific, contained lessons join hot-topic sessions, which delve into gluten-free cooking or sausage making, or international classes that explore Lebanese cuisine’s spices or Spain’s rustic charcoal-fired meats. Over the holidays, the 6,000-square-foot center fills with apprentices who learn to craft seasonal edibles such as truffles or gingerbread houses.
Nothing To It! also feeds visitors feasts they don’t have to cook. Its Napa Valley–style Gourmet Deli layers sandwiches with lavish ingredients such as imported cambozola-cheese pesto and flavors salads with creamy curried-mango chutney.