In a season chock-full of stuff, the notion of learning a new skill, or improving upon an old one, through taking a class is a great way to give someone a gift that keeps on giving—providing memorable experiences and perhaps even spurring lasting new interests. Here are some class-y gift suggestions for everyone on your list.
Eat This, Shoot That!
One glance at Instagram is all it takes to know that food shots are all the rage. Learn how to take fantastic food and travel photos while tasting delicious food and drinks in and around Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone with this unique tour. (800/979-3370, 805/699-6719, eatthisshootthat.com) Eat This, Shoot That! owner Tara Jones and her crew take you to taste and shoot at Deep Sea Winery, Santa Barbara Shellfish Co., Lucky Penny, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Riverbench Winery, Koval Confections and Seven Bar + Kitchen. In addition to photography tips and nibbles and tipples, the tour also offers tidbits of Santa Barbara history.
Learn the fast-paced game of polo at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, where John Westley’s world-renowned polo school has taught players of all skill levels for more than 20 years (805/729-2812, sbpoloschool.com). The club offers a variety of options to learn to play polo for beginners and to fine tune polo skills for more advanced players.
Studies have shown that learning music enhances brain power, improves memory and boosts performance. What a great gift to give to someone at any age! Learn to sing or play an instrument at Santa Barbara School of Music (805/699-5594, schoolofmusicsb.com), where the goal is to make learning to sing or play an instrument a fun, rewarding and positive experience.
Up in the Air
Has the same old, same old exercise routine gotten stale? Santa Barbara Rock Gym’s skilled staff teaches aspiring rock hounds of all ages everything from beginner climber safety and climbing techniques to advanced bouldering skills (805/770-3225, sbrockgym.com). For a completely different type of high flying fun, check out Cloud 10 Jump Club (805/617-3900, cloud10jumpclub.com); with almost 19,000 square feet of trampolines to play on, the club is also home to the C10 “Air Academy” training center for trampoline and tumbling classes, camps and flipping clinics. Also up in the air for fun and fitness are classes at Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Arts (805/284-8785, sbaerial.com), including intensive stretching and conditioning, static trapeze, aerial sling, the art of balance and more.
Dance to your heart’s content at Santa Barbara Dance Center (805/899-2901, santabarbaradancecenter.com), where lessons are offered in Brazilian dancing, Bollywood fusion, world dance, salsa, Argentine tango and more. Arthur Murray Dance Center (805/963-6658, arthurmurraysantabarbara.com) gets students out on the floor for a wide variety of Latin, country Western and ballroom dances, including the waltz, jitterbug, fox trot, cha cha, Texas two-step, swing, Polka, merengue, quickstep and more.
Yearning to get out on the water? Santa Barbara Adventure Company (805/884-9283, sbadventureco.com) offers standup paddling lessons, surf lessons, paragliding and kayaking. Santa Barbara Sailing Center (800/350-9090, sbsail.com) has more than 40 charter boats in its program and a large staff of instructors to accommodate sailors of all levels. In addition to one-on-one lessons, it also offers plenty of live-aboard instructional vacation options to choose from, as well as regularly scheduled group classes.
Get out a paintbrush and get back to nature at the same time at The WOODS Art Studio, a fun sunlit outdoor studio in the Santa Barbara foothills, where LeAnne Iverson offers both private and small group classes in mixed media painting, collage, Photoshop techniques, acrylics, art journaling, mosaics, found object construction and art parties (including bachelorette gatherings, date nights and singles nights) for children/teens and adults (646/369-7277, facebook.com/thewoodsartstudio). For a more traditional approach, Santa Barbara Museum of Art (805/884-6457, sbmuseart.org) offers a wide variety of studio art classes at Ridley-Tree Education Center, including instruction in watercolor and acrylic painting.
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Winter 2014/15.