1520 Lakeside Drive
Oakland, CA 94612
Price: 30 minute private tour – $40 for the first couple, $10 per each additional person
Close your eyes, and within seconds, Gondola Servizio will transform Lake Merritt into Italy’s Grand Canal with its iconic gondolas and sweet sounds of barcarola being sung from the lips of a gondolier. Choose from a 30-minute tour to an upgraded package with a felze (closed cabin) suitable for two passengers who are looking to add romance and privacy to the evening’s detail. A variety of options exists; find the one that best suits your plans and budget. For a sweet deal, look no further than the Chocolate Dessert Tour. It serves decadent house-made treats, chocolate eclairs, truffles, hand-wrapped caramels and sparkling Prosecco. Gondolas can accommodate up to six passengers with tours available 7-days-a-week upon request.
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Pacific Pinball Museum
1510 Webster St.
Alameda, CA 94501
Price: Adults—$15; Kids under 12 — $7.50
Geek out at this Alameda location that pays homage to America’s favorite arcade game, the pinball machine. Wander through a maze of rooms where you’ll find rows of playable machines, nearly 100 in all, some imparting background information on the designer and artist. Vintage machines are kept in the main room, and the more antiquated pieces off limits to the touch. An 1879 Montague Redgrave Parlor Bagatelle earns bragging rights as the Pacific Pinball Museum’s most historical piece. Patrons will delight in playing machines built from 1936 to the present and watching technology shift and shape the game while enjoying the eras’ modern art. Everything is well represented, from pre-flippers and spring launchers to spinners and magnets. No need to raid the bank for quarters – all machines are rigged to play, simply pay a flat entrance fee. Don’t tilt the machines and let the good times roll.
Chabot Space and Science Center
Dark Nights at Chabot
10000 Skyline Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94619
Price: Adult – $15.95; Youth (ages 3-12) – $11.95; Members – Free
You should always be wary of anyone promising the moon and stars, however, Chabot Space and Science Center actually delivers on this promise. The museum understands the earth makes for fascinating observation after-hours, which is why Dark Nights at Chabot is so wildly popular. A series of nighttime events includes stargazing with Leah, Rachel and Nellie – names for the center’s three telescopes. Rachel is actually the largest refracting telescope open to the public on the West coast. The famous observatory deck allows for breathtaking views 1,500 feet above the Bay. If it’s the moonlight you desire, a moderate to difficult five mile hike explores the surrounding Redwoods. Word to the wise: hikes fill up fast. The on-site Skyline Bistro keeps the same hours as Chabot, meaning appetizing dinner entrees are available along with coffee, teas and baked goods before or after your star-gazing experience.
Takara Sake Museum
708 Addison St.
Berkeley, CA 94719
Takara brings more than simply a taste of sake to its Berkeley headquarters. Inside the company with “harmonist” values, visitors are greeted with Japanese culture found in the sake museum and tasting room. Tours are provided daily and a video describing the story of sake brewing is available for viewing. The museum features a collection of artifacts on display and an impressive sake press with hanging stone weights – the only one of its kind in the U.S. Takara holds the title as America’s largest sake producer and for $5 offers a variety of courses of sake tasting and food pairing guide based on the dry/sweetness, texture and aroma.
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1822 9th St. (cross Street Pine)
Oakland, CA 94607
Price: $45 – Single Class, 10 classes/10 weeks – $295, 10 classes/20 weeks – $345
Fly through the air with the greatest of ease; you’re all harnessed up for the flying trapeze. Raising the bar on fun, Trapeze Arts has been turning people into swingers since 1994. Whether date night, corporate event or just trying something new, students ranging in age are learning to let go and have the time of their lives. The very capable staff of instructors, each bringing years of experience as teachers and performers, are very patient. Feel the excitement and adrenaline rush connecting in mid-air. Your confidence will soar with every catch.