Knit, paint, cook, forage. The 6–5–0 has an abundance of opportunities to continue your lifelong learning.
You’re never too old to learn something new — or, at least, that’s what we’ve been telling ourselves as we’re constantly having to adapt to the new trends and necessary skill sets cropping up around Silicon Valley.
While there’s no shortage of people creating and cultivating new things to learn out here along our unique edge of California, we also have our fair share of opportunity to learn classic crafts as well, whether it’s cooking, art or language. So whether you’d like to continue your lifelong education by way of an oil painting workshop, or need a finance class to bulk up your resume, or just want to finally learn how to make chocolate, check it out: we’ve complied a list of 13 Peninsula-based classes perfect for your pursuit of the new.
Arts, crafts & entertainment
Open Paint by CATA is a sort of art class and social outing rolled into one, ideal for those who are open to learning something new while also meeting people with likeminded interests at the same time. Paint, brushes, vinyl sheets and a few large collaborative canvases are provided for no cost — open paint is a donation based event — and features a local artist, who is there to offer painting tips (upon request). Bring a friend or go with the intention of making new ones, order some food or drinks, and learn a thing or two about art: your donation supports worthwhile causes, like the ones listed here.
Need a summer class for your teen? The Social Fabric Collective is offering a photography workshop in Palo Alto for a week in July, with speaker seminars, photo activities and group critiques. The program provides students with a digital camera and other equipment for the entire week. Better yet, the program offers numerous scholarships to make the workshop available to students of diverse economic backgrounds. Check here for schedule, speaker list and scholarship application.
Opal’z Soaps and Scents in Mountain View specializes in myriad soaps, perfumes, candles and other fun, funky and often homemade products. They also offer classes in soap, perfume and candle making on the weekends (and if you don’t see a date that works for you, they’ll hold a class if three or more students register). If you’ve ever wanted to craft your own perfume or make a whimsical scented candle, this place is for you. Classes range from $50 for soap making to $80 for perfume making and run an average of two hours.
We do our fair share of keeping up with the trends on the Peninsula, and we can tell you with absolute certainty that knitting (yes, knitting) is making a comeback. Skipping any potential chances for hipster jokes, Fengari’s Fiber Arts in Half Moon Bay offers knitting workshops for knitters of all talent levels, and crocheters are also welcome. Plus, we get the feeling that this place was offering knitting classes waaay before anyone truly thought that wearing that hand-knit sweater was “in”. Maybe start simple with a coaster or go big with a scarf: it’s your call. Check it out here.
In the name of DIY
REI hosts a variety of under-the-radar classes focusing on self sufficiency and building a range of outdoor-related skills. Class offerings range from map and compass navigation, to “how to ride a bike” for kids, to hiking tips and gourmet camp cooking classes. Class prices start at around $70 — some, like the camp cooking one, are free. Check out the full listing for the Peninsula here.
Home Depot also regularly offers classes at each of its locations (on the Peninsula, that includes East Palo Alto, San Carlos, and San Mateo, as well as some San Jose locations that aren’t too far out). Stores offer DIY workshops and kids classes on Saturday mornings; for adults, classes range from constructing garden beds to things like installing wall tile, while kids’ workshops usually take the form of hands on arts and crafts. Tip: sign up for the kids’ workshops in advance, if you can — they fill up quick. See more here.
Off the beaten path
If you haven’t noticed by now, “off-beat” is kind of our thing over here, and so in the pursuit of preserving that vibe, we took a look at some of the classes that were offering something… well, truly new to us, like the stand up paddleboard yoga classes offered by Shoreline Lake in Mountain View. Classes run from January to November, and participants enjoy navigating their balance and yoga postures while out on the water on a stand up paddleboard. All skill levels are welcome, though prior experience with yoga is recommended. For the less balance-inclined, Shoreline also offers an introductory paddleboarding class that sticks to just paddleboarding.
Been anxious to learn how to catch a Monkeyface Eel with little more than a stick and a lot of ambition? Sign up for one of Kirk Lombard’s Bay Area sea foraging tours. As an accomplished angler, Lombard is the author of a book on sea foraging along the Northern California coast and can teach you the fine art of catching ghost shrimp, rock crab and mud clams, all right here along our very scenic local coastline.
East West Bookshop in Mountain View is a self-described center for wisdom, consciousness and community. The store doubles as a kind of “mini-retreat center”, and hosts spiritual-based workshops and events almost every day of the year. Their classes offer a chance to explore the spiritual sides of yourself. Past offerings have included workshops on how self-love supports self-realization, improving happiness in the time of tech (both things we could probably all use a little more of these days), as well as topics like walking meditation. See an updated calendar here.
Sweet 55 is a Swiss-owned chocolate shop in Half Moon Bay. Besides offering up a menu with a comprehensive array of cakes, tarts and chocolates (or for that matter — truffles, toffees and Swiss rochers), the store offers chocolate making workshops for groups of up to eight people (larger groups can be accommodated upon request). It’s a sweet opportunity to learn from the pros.
Pick your brain
If you feel like revving up your intellectual side, Stanford University is constantly offering a stream of lectures on a variety of topics that are both free and open to the public. Even though the university is obviously a big name in the way of Peninsula institutions, the wide range of purposes its come to serve means that some of its less-popular functions get over looked, including lectures. Stanford offers relevant, engaging and informational topics, like conversations on sustainability and presentations on the future of space exploration. Check out the month’s schedule and beyond here.
Ever wish you’d paid more attention to that second language class you forced your way through in high school or college? Us, too, so when we discovered that the Museo Italo Americano in San Francisco offers Italian language classes at Cubberley in Palo Alto, we were pretty pumped. Classes range from intermediate to advanced and last about 6 weeks.
Last but not least, the Palo Alto Unified School District runs Palo Alto Adult School, which offers an incredible range of classes and curriculums. From business & finance to wood working and arts & crafts, its specialty is kind of… everything. They also have classes for adults with disabilities as well as ESL (English as a second language) courses. See a full list of class topics here.
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