The staff at Checkered Flag hand-washes cars with care, but that doesn't mean customers endure long waits. Thanks to efficiency measures implemented eight years ago, the locally owned and operated business can get a chassis glittering in just 10 minutes. "We don't compromise the quality," Manager Chuck Morris told the Orange County Register, which named Checkered Flag one of the best car washes in the county in 2012. "Our teams on the dry-off work hard to do a quality job of cleaning your car inside and out in a timely manner."
To make the short wait feel even briefer, Checkered Flag pampers guests with perks such as complimentary Wi-Fi, espresso drinks, and gourmet coffee. Inside an attached boutique, they can browse high-end gift items or admire the racecar in which Kevin Cogan zoomed to second place at the Indianapolis 500 in 1986.
The California coast lends a sparkling backdrop to the Dana Point Harbor Boat Show where, for the 12th year running, boat enthusiasts and marine-related exhibitors converge to discuss and celebrate the latest watery wares. Snaking along the harbor's docks, show-goers wade through a trove of exhibitor booths that includes the Ocean Institute and California and Pacific Northwest Yachts. Power and sail vessels—by such makers as Albemarle, East Bay, and Ocean—model varying modes of aquatic transport, and gadget enthusiasts get first glimpse at in-water features such as electronics, fishing gear, and apparel that emboldens seafarers to take on the angry seas or finally stand up to the office drinking fountain and its aggressively unpredictable spray.
Founded in the mid-1980s, The California Women's Conference boasts a long and proud tradition of lectures and discussion panels aimed especially at women in business. Some highlights from past years include a panel and sack race featuring Michelle Obama, Ann Romney, Cindy McCain, and Elizabeth Edwards in 2007 and a historic address from the Dalai Lama and Maria Shriver in 2006. Beyond annual conventions, The California Women’s Conference offers news and resources with a lively online community.
First String Sportfishing sails the open seas off of Southern California, taking passengers on both fishing voyages and educational marine tours. Its largest boat, First String, can hold up to 149 people for its whale-watching tours. On board the 93-foot boat, you’ll find two 9-ton fish holds, two radars, a large-screen television, and a dolphin-to-English dictionary. First String Sportfishing’s other boats depart for both Californian and Mexican waters on fishing excursions. These trips typically yield shallow-water rockfish such as Sculpin and Whitefish and larger varieties including yellowtail and barracuda.
From its beach-adjacent headquarters at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, OC Helicopters whisks clients away on aerial tours that deliver a rare vantage point for familiar southern California places and Orange County beaches. The owner and head pilot mans air-conditioned and reliable Robinson R44 helicopters and other aircraft that can comfortably seat three or four passengers in chairs that provide a 180-degree view. Customers choose from a number of aerial tour routes, veering south over Laguna Beach's luxury golf courses and sprawling houses or hovering near Crystal Cove and Newport Beach. Helicopters can also head northwest and take the Surf City Tour, which traces the shoreline while supplying an aviator's eyeful of Dana Point's population of surfers as they come ashore to lay their bronze eggs. OC Helicopters also offers custom tours.
As an FAA-approved Flight School, Orange County Flight Center prepares aspiring pilots to handle aircraft of all sizes, from private Cessnas to commercial jets. They employ a mix of classroom time, actual flight hours, and simulator training to increase their students' aerial aptitude, following the Skyroamers syllabi to the letter. Each new certification builds on the one before it, allowing private pilots to earn commercial licenses, multi-engine ratings, or even become instructors themselves.
Once licensed, students get to opportunity to return to their alma mater to rent aircraft for private excursions. Available vehicles include a selection of Cessnas, a pair of Pipers, and a twin-engined 1976 Beechcraft Duchess.