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.
All Fired Up! creates a casual, crockery haven where budding artists of any age can fashion their own earthenware masterpieces. Amateur Picassos first select from an array of paintable options ranging from picture frames and dinnerware, to mugs, platters, and bisque sculptures of the real Picasso’s ear. Guests can then select from a plentiful palette of ceramic-safe colors to customize a design, or call upon artistic aid in the form of stamps, stencils, and computer printouts. Dress up a dining table by decorating a plain oval tray with brightly colored flowers, or gift your mailman with a “world’s best milkman” tile before apologizing for your mistake.
Shoe's modish heel coddlers outfit men, women, and children with a seasonally shifting, cosmopolitan cornucopia of designer shoes and accessories. Among its lustrously polychromatic walls, multiple styles of Geox shoes await anxious toes ($58+), vying for attention with the Corso Como shoes selection ($104+). Further embellish ankles with a duo of cashmere tights ($85), or ornament jugulars with one of Shoe's panoply of scarves ($130+). Accessories, such as Eyebobs spectacles can decorate perceptual disabilities ($85+), and Bing Bang earrings ($55+) can make lobes look good, even if they fail at helping the ear hear the flapping wings of an oncoming butterfly swarm.
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."