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Best of the East Bay - Fun

Best dance troupe, new dog park, ski resort, cooking classes, art gallery, winery...



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Alternative To Jumping Out Of A Plane

Editor Pick: New and Notable

Best Alternative to Jumping Out of a Plane: iFly; Photograph by Mitch Tobias→ Skydiving looks fun, but most of us remain tethered to the ground by fear. Check out iFly. The indoor skydiving center is home to a vertical wind tunnel whose four 250-horsepower fans generate wind speeds up to 160 miles per hour, faster than the speed at which skydivers free-fall before popping their parachutes. It is in this flight chamber that adults and kids learn to fly—and professionals practice their spins and somersaults.

Fledgling iFlyers get a brief training session before donning a jumpsuit, goggles, helmet, and earplugs. Accompanied by an instructor, you take to the tunnel for one or two minutes at a time. Simply lean into the tunnel and the instructor will balance you on a cushion of air, a few feet above a safety net. As you hover, fighting to remain level against the buffeting winds, your body quickly tires and you wonder how more experienced iFlyers can duck and dive through the air like birds.

Then it happens. The instructor lets go, and for a moment, sometimes several, you fly. The second time, when confidence pushes you higher and you learn to steer your body, the fun really kicks in. Be warned: An addiction to air acrobatics might ensue.

31310 Alvarado Niles Rd., Union City, (510) 489-4359,
www.iflysfbay.com. First-time iFly package with training and two tunnel flights is $49.95. —Hannah Craddick


Ski Resort

Reader Pick

Northstar at Tahoe has 83 well-maintained ski trails, and the resort’s eight different terrain parks have long made it a favorite for snowboarders. Yet another plus is the location, just far enough away from South Lake Tahoe to escape the hordes. But, really, it’s all about the amenities awaiting you after you take your last run.

Grab a drink at the bar and warm those toes by one of the handsome fire pits surrounding the 9,000-square-foot ice rink at the base of the mountain, in the middle of the recently renovated Village at Northstar. The village sports a variety of top-notch shops and restaurants, and has accommodations ranging from family-friendly condos with kitchens to the truly deluxe:A new five-star Ritz Carlton is scheduled to open midmountain in fall 2009.

For those looking for outdoor enjoyment sans long underwear, Northstar’s got you covered, with mountain biking trails, an 18-hole golf course, and fly-fishing at Sawmill Lake reservoir. And, that ice-skating rink? It opens for roller skating in the summer.

(800) 466-6784, www.northstarattahoe.com. —Ethan Fletcher

Dance Troupe

Reader Pick

Company C Contemporary Ballet; Photograph by Scott Clark→ Formed just six years ago, Walnut Creek–based Company C Contemporary Ballet has built a reputation for putting on eclectic shows (a recent performance was set to a Tom Waits tune) and featuring lesser-known pieces that are more New York than San Francisco. Founder and artistic director Charles Anderson says he’s got even bigger plans in the works.

Have you had to educate the audience about ballet here?
You have to educate people about ballet everywhere you go. The nature of dance is educating people, but what I really enjoy, one of my little personal goals, is when a wife drags a husband to the ballet who really doesn’t want to go, and he says, “Wow, I really didn’t know this is what it was going to be like.”

What is the ultimate goal for Company C?
The great big hairy audacious goal is for it not just to be a regional company but to become an important, recognized national entity, touring around the world with guest artists. We would like to create work that is not just interesting in Walnut Creek or San Francisco, but that’s important to the dance world, as well as to someone who’s never seen dance before.

1280 Boulevard Way, Ste. 203, Walnut Creek, (925) 708-0752,
www.companycballet.org. —E.F.

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