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Summer’s here and the livin’s easy. But that’s no excuse to spend the next three months on your couch. Get outside, join a sports team, take photos, scout out some adventure, test your luck and enjoy good wine. Here’s a kick-start!
You don’t need to wait for your wedding to get professionally photographed. Local photographers offer great deals on photo shoots around the city (think engagement shoot without the ring). Pose for photos with your girlfriends, family or your hubby in fun settings such as Folsom Lake, Old Sac, the Tower Bridge, William Land Park and the Riverfront Promenade. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 for a couple of hours of shooting. For those on a tight budget, consider hiring an advanced photography student or finding local beginning photographers on flickr.com.
Want to feel more comfortable behind the lens? Local photography clubs offer practice and learning opportunities for photographers of all skill levels. Enhance your knowledge of digital SLR cameras and experiment on club outings around the region, capturing everything from downtown city shots to landscapes of the American River. Groups hold monthly meetings with guest speakers, workshops, critiques and competitions. Some organize community photo exhibits and volunteer to photograph local events. Bring your own camera and be prepared to pay a minimal annual membership fee.
* The Photography Club of Davis (photoclubofdavis.org)
* Sierra Camera Club (sierracameraclub.com)
* El Dorado Camera Club (eldoradocameraclub.com)
FOR COMPETITION SEEKERS
Feeling hungry (really hungry)? Try a food challenge.
* Parker’s Hot Dogs of Santa Cruz: Tackle 5 pounds of chili dogs and fries within 20 minutes. Only one person has ever completed the challenge. The Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” star Adam Richman couldn’t even finish the meaty meal at the Roseville eatery.
* Suki Sushi Challenge: Eat 4 pounds of specialty sushi rolls within one hour. If you don’t complete the challenge, you pay for the $29 meal. Call this South Sacramento restaurant to schedule a time.
* Sweet Lew Burger Challenge: How about gravy fries, a 16-ounce burger, a fried chicken breast, pastrami, fried egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a pickle—all inside two buns? And you have to drink a pint of beer. The record stands at 9 minutes, 58 seconds. Think you can beat it? The challenge is available only during the summer months at The Chef’s Table in Rocklin.
*King of Sacramento Cheesesteak Challenge: Pound down two 15-inch cheesesteaks (each with one pound of steak, lettuce, tomato and mayo), a large order of steak fries, a large drink and a Tastykake in less than one hour at The Cheesesteak Shop in Sacramento. Only 15 people have succeeded.
Feeling lucky? It’s no Vegas, but some would say the Sacramento region has better gambling than Reno. Area casinos offer low buy-in poker and blackjack tournaments with large guaranteed winnings.
* Thunder Valley: The Lincoln casino holds Texas Hold ’Em low-limit $40 to $100 buy-in tournaments every day at various times. Higher buy-in and no-limit tournaments are held once a month.
*Red Hawk Casino: Every Tuesday, the Placerville casino hosts a $25 buy-in blackjack tournament at 5 p.m. Final payout depends on the number of entered players.
WINE & DINE IN FAIR PLAY
Fair Play in El Dorado County is home to 20 family-owned boutique wineries.
*Colibri Ridge Winery & Vineyard and neighboring wineries Oakstone, Obscurity Cellars and DKCellars will feature wines made from grapes grown along Slug Gulch Road in Fair Play for the Fourth Annual Slug Fest on Aug. 6 and 7. Light appetizers will be served. No charge with last year’s glass; $5 for newcomers.
*Join Perry Creek Winery on Aug. 7 for a free barbecue from noon to 3 p.m. RSVP no later than July 28 to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 620-5175.
* Stop at Fitzpatrick Winery and Lodge on the first Friday of every month for homemade wood-fired pizzas between 5 and 9 p.m. and views of the entire region. Reservations are required. Every second Friday, see blues rocker Jonny Mojo and Friends perform live.
* On Aug. 13, Perry Creek, Toogood Estate Winery and three others host the Fair Play Wine and Poker Run from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Each winery you visit presents you with an envelope containing a playing card. At the end of the day, you’ll have at least five cards to create your hand. The best hands receive prizes like a night at Fitzpatrick’s Lodge. Sample wines, take home your favorite bottles and enjoy dinner. Total cost: $89.50 per person. Order tickets online at fairplaywineandpokerrun.com.
The Social Media Club of Sacramento, created in 2009, has monthly meetups for locals interested in exploring how social media enhances our lives and connects us all. Discussions include social media best practices, industry standards and ethical concerns. Social Media Club is an international organization with more than 100 active chapters. Follow the group on Twitter @SMCSac.
Meet your Twitter connections in person at monthly TweetUps in Sacramento, Placer County and Folsom. The free meetings aim to connect digitally attached people through events like scavenger hunts, happy hours and restaurant outings. Anyone, even non-Tweeters, can attend.
* Placer Business TweetUp (@placerbiz)
* Sacramento TweetUp (@sactweetup)
* Folsom TweetUp (@folsomtweetup)
Dancing is good for your physique and your social life. Locals can swing, step and cha-cha any night of the week at restaurants, bars and dance studios around town.
Head to The Stoney Inn for the Rockin’ Rodeo nightly country dance party. Every night of the week, professional dancers teach line dancing, two-step and swing group lessons. No reservations are required; just show up in your boots and hat. Live music, a full bar and a room full of dancing cowboys and girls? Yee-haw!
The Station, a Roseville restaurant and lounge surrounded by old railroad cars, hosts a different genre of dance every night of the week on its two dance floors. Before the floor opens up to the public, The Station’s instructors give lessons on the theme of the night, from Sunday’s West Coast Swing to Fridays ’80s dance party and karaoke. Some instructors charge $5 to $10, while others teach for free.
Join hundreds of dancers at Midtown Stomp for East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop dancing every Friday night. Start with beginning swing lessons from 8 to 9 p.m., then join open dancing from 9 p.m. to midnight. Don’t miss live music twice a month, featuring bands from around the world. No partner needed!
Put your rhythm to the test on Tuesday nights at The Davis Graduate, where salsa lessons start at 9:30, followed by open dancing.
BREW YOUR OWN
Brew six cases of your own 12- or 22-ounce bottles of beer at Brew it Up! in downtown Sac. Choose from ales, lagers, pilsners and bocks, and add as much hops, malts and flavor extracts as you wish to give your beer a personalized touch. Customized labels are available.
Turn brewing into a hobby with the help of Brew Ferment Distill. The Oak Park store opened last year and has all the ingredients needed to brew not only your own beer, but make your own wine, soda, kombucha (fermented tea) and cheese.
Go hang gliding: Launch off with Sacramento Hang Gliding near Rancho Murieta. Beginners start with flight theory, which explores how the glider works. Next, the simulator helps students get a feel for flight, then instructors help students get 5 to 10 feet off the ground. After five four-hour lessons, most people are able to fly off an 80-foot training hill. Sessions are $140 each, and package deals are available. All equipment is provided; all you need to bring is a love of heights.
Moaning Cavern Adventure Park: For underground adventure, rappel 165 feet down into the Moaning Cavern, the largest single-chamber public cave in California. Two hours of guided exploration through deep chambers and passages will reveal the location where more than 100 human remains were once found. Most areas are undeveloped and don’t have lights, stairs or walkways, so explorers climb and belly crawl with lighted helmets. For the less adventurous, walking tours also are available. For large groups, reservations are required.
Moaning Cavern Adventure Park: Fly across the Gold Country foothills on Moaning Cavern’s twin zip lines. For $39, you can race a friend on the 1,500-foot double cables at speeds averaging 40 mph. The only requirement: weighing between 70 and 260 pounds. No reservations are required, but call ahead to check for availability.
Go paintballing: The nine fields at Capital Edge Paintball Park in Sacramento range from turf to urban settings and are filled with mounds, spools, bunkers and a newly added castle. The family-owned business, home to one of the top five paintball players in the world, often hosts fundraisers and regional tournaments. The park is open only on weekends, and players and families of all ages and skill levels are welcome.
Go kart racing: Race up to speeds of 40 mph on one of RPM Indoor Kart Racing’s four track layouts. No prior experience is necessary, but RPM does require you to watch a training video before jumping in a cart. Adults (18 and older) can attend alone; RPM also offers junior race camps for the younger set.
Ready to start your own garden? The Home Depot offers free gardening and landscaping classes during the summer. Check out its Home Improver Club website at homeimproverclub.com to find schedules for regional workshops.
Don’t dig digging? Start a beehive. Bees travel within a five-mile radius of their home base to pollinate surrounding flowers and trees. Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies has all of the tools necessary to start a hive—about a $250 initial investment. The knowledgeable staff can answer any questions ranging from the use of protective beekeeping suits to smoking bees. The Sacramento Area Beekeepers Association offers beginning to advanced beekeeping classes.
Visit a public garden:
* The UC Davis Arboretum offers 100 acres of gardens and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Check the calendar for special events like Folk Music Jam Session and Poetry in the Garden.
*In the southeast corner of Sacramento’s Old City Cemetery sits the California Native Plant Society Demonstration Garden, where you can learn about medicinal, cultural and edible aspects of native plants used by local Native Americans. Flowers include the region’s largest collection of California lilacs (mountain lilacs) and California sages.
*Created in 1928, the McKinley Park Rose Garden boasts 1.5 acres of more than 1,000 rose bushes, tree roses and annuals. New award-winning varieties are planted in the garden every year. The garden will be closed this coming September through February for improvements, including new benches and walkways, so plan a visit soon.
* WPA Rock Garden, a William Land Park gem across the street from Fairytale Town, is home to more than 1,000 plant varieties.
* Charles C. Jensen Botanical Garden, a lush 3.5 acre garden just off busy Fair Oaks Boulevard in Carmichael, was founded in 1958 and is flourishing with thousands of tulips. One-day volunteers are needed to tend the garden on Aug. 8.
Refresh Your Routine:
Stand up paddle, the core-strengthening activity that has you paddling while standing up on a surfboard, is offered through the summer at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma. Introductory classes, which are three hours long, cost $30; all equipment is provided. The first half of the lesson is indoors, where students learn about technique and equipment; the second half is on the water.
Test your skills at Segway polo with the Folsom Breakout Segway Polo Club. The sport, created 10 years ago by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, is based on horse polo and soccer, with additional right of way rules to avoid Segway collisions. Last month, the sixth annual international Woz Challenge Cup (named after Wozniak) was held in Folsom, where 12 teams from around the world competed. Players ride the two-wheeled personal vehicle up and down Kemp Field at the Folsom Sports Complex every Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Members encourage everyone to come out and try it for free before joining the club.
Jump around at Sky High Sports in Rancho Cordova. Wall-to-wall trampolines offer a low-impact, high-energy way to exercise that burns calories fast. Take an AIRobics class or sign up for a trampoline dodgeball tournament. Kids classes also are available.
Rock out at Heavy Metal yoga at the Alt+Library, sponsored by the Sacramento Public Library, where you can do Warrior Two to Twisted Sister and Downward Dog to Deep Purple. The class takes place July 13 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and is part of a series of four fitness programs, including Punk Rock Aerobics and Punk Rock Pilates classes, taught by Lipstick Librarian of the Sac City Rollers.
So you’ve conquered Zumba, but how about doing the Latin dance-based workout under water? Aqua Zumba integrates the traditional Zumba workout into an aqua fitness program, which works the muscles on an extra level using the water’s resistance with less impact on joints. Go to zumba.com to find an instructor near you. While you’re there, check out Zumbatomic, a version designed specifically for kids.
Work on your hand-eye coordination at one of Roseville’s six public horseshoe pits, located in Kaseberg Park, Royer Park and Veteran’s Memorial Park.
Work Out in the Park:
* Yoga in the Park is a free all-levels Vinyasa yoga class offered every Saturday from 9 to 10:15 a.m. behind the McKinley Park Rose Garden on H Street. Instructor Gina Garcia Di Fiore, a former KCRA 3 reporter, started the practice in her home in East Sacramento, but has since moved it to its new location to accommodate the 100-plus students that attend every week. The class runs through Oct. 1.
* Blood, Sweat and Tears offers a bootcamp-style combination of cardio, strength-training and stretching. Instructor Vee Bhopla, a fitness instructor at California Family Fitness and a registered nurse, worked off his extra pounds years ago and now wants to help others do the same. The hour-long class started in April and is held every Thursday at 5:45 p.m. in McKinley Park (at 35th Street and McKinley Boulevard). The class is free, although a $3 donation is encouraged to fund equipment. Bhopla caps the class at 50 to keep it intimate, so don’t be late!
* Mama Bootcamp is a 12-week workout session that includes a personalized exercise program, body fat testing, nutrition counseling and life coaching. The 60- to 90-minute sessions, designed to boost confidence while slimming waistlines, are held at various parks around the region, and include core work, cardiovascular exercises and full-body strength training. And it’s not just for mamas! Women of all ages are welcome. Founder Lorri Ann Code also recently started a Man Bootcamp for the guys. The session costs $299. For an extra $25 a month, Code trains triathlon newbies looking for an endurance challenge. Go to mamabootcamp.com for schedules.
Be a Team Player:
Xoso Sport & Social League is a co-ed adult league with dodgeball, kickball and volleyball teams, recess, and newly added bowling and boot camp. After the weekly matchups, players hit the bars for some post-game partying. The club’s premise of mixing working out and socializing seems to be resonating—the league has grown from 50 to 1,400 players in two years. Registration for fall teams starts in late July. Team fees vary based on the sport, but a group of 13 can expect to pay around $650.
City sports leagues offer a variety of teams and drop-in games. Check your city’s website for schedules and registration information.
No time for play after work? Join the city of West Sacramento’s lunchtime sports leagues. Basketball and volleyball teams practice a couple of days a week at the West Sac Recreation Center. Quick Start Tennis, a modified indoor tennis game that’s fast-paced to fit into a lunch hour, practices on Fridays. Leagues are free for rec center pass holders.
Cameron Park Rotary Community Observatory features two 14-inch telescopes, one hooked up to a camera, for viewing galaxies, nebulas and star clusters. A docent will lead you on a narrated tour of the night sky. The outdoor amphitheater is free and open every weekend with clear skies.
Check out the Sacramento City College Observatory when it opens to the public in September.
Want to know what it all means for you? On Aug. 21, get an astrological sign reading at the National Council on Geocosmic Research’s first-ever open house. The 15- to 20-minute readings will follow four half-hour sessions on astrology, including an intro to astrology and discussion about understanding your sign.
Location: Planet Earth Rising, 625 Sutter St., FolsomTime: noon to 4:30 p.m. (stop by anytime)
Cost: Lectures are free, readings are $20 (proceeds go to the local NCGR’s educational programs)
INDULGE IN SOME “ME” TIME
Relax at one of these day spas around town:
Treat yourself to a weekend of relaxing spa services at the Inn & Spa at Parkside, a combination bed-and-breakfast and spa in downtown Sacramento. Sleep in one of 11 rooms inside the mansion, surrounded by gardens, a gazebo and an eight-person Jacuzzi. The inn has various monthly specials, like the first-time customer package for 20 percent off regular room rates when coupled with a 60-minute Swedish massage and a 60-minute facial or a 60-minute couple’s massage.
Parkside Pharmacy in Land Park is a compounding pharmacy that doubles as a spa. Co-owner Michelle Ortega, a licensed esthetician, offers spa services, such as facials, microdermabrasion, waxing, and brown sugar and honey lip plumping treatments. The pharmacy also sells upscale accessories and homegoods, and has a kids’ play area. Try a special monthly event like Ladies Night.
Body Advantage in midtown offers a variety of unique spa services including craniosacral therapy, used to treat stress, neck and back pain, migraines, the lower jaw disorder TMJ and chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia. Massages are available starting at $45.