Many people feel an indescribable urge to follow in the footsteps of celebrities long passed?hoping that a connection to their genius or charm still lingers in the air of their apartments and favorite pubs. The guides of Esotouric understand and share this urge, though they prefer to roam the paths of history by bus. After scouring the famed neighborhoods of Los Angeles in search of interesting and outlandish locations, they share their findings on bus adventures that retrace the trails blazed by local artists, filmmakers, writers, and actors.
Esotouric's odysseys wind through haunts such as Raymond Chandler's favorite breakfast spot and the salon Charles Bukowski visited for his weekly knuckle-hair perm. Coloring their tours with anecdotes about the films adapted from his noirish stories, guides also visit locales captured in the cinematic landscapes of James M. Cain. Various tours explore Southern California?s culture, literature, and architectural sides, giving history hounds the chance to sniff out sinister deeds in old-time tattoo parlors, burlesque shows, and crime scenes.
The heavy stillness of night hangs over Old Town?s cemetery, the air silent and thick with a nervous, uneasy energy. A group of people has gathered here in the quiet, and stands seemingly motionless amid the graves, their outlines rendered almost indistinguishable thanks to the moonless sky. At the center of this group, experienced ghost hunter Michael Brown holds out his EMF meter that, after a second of inactivity, displays an unusual reading?alerting the onlookers that it senses a ghost is near.
This spooky sojourn is just another day on the job for Michael, who leads two ghost tours through Old Town four evenings a week. Intent on introducing believers and nonbelievers alike to the area?s paranormal activities, he bolsters equipment-based communications with the spirit world with tales amassed from his own experiences ghost hunting for 13 years. Public ghost tours give intrepid groups a chance to experience unsettling phenomena?such as a local energy vortex in which energy hovers above the ground?as they wend through haunted locales and ghosts' favorite picnic areas. Michael?s private ghost-hunting tours arm each brave soul with an EMF meter as they embark upon specter-tracking expeditions.
Each year, the creative team behind Dead Time Dreams Attractions fills its disturbing setting with elaborate plots suitable for the silver screen. Far from sitting passively, audiences step into the scene beset by a cast of horrifying creatures. Before entering one of the immersive attractions, The Meat Factory or The Church, guests pass through the preshow Midway of Terror attraction. In the Meat Factory, terrornauts stumble through a maze of wending dead-ends festooned with meat hooks and body parts, behind which hungry creatures lurk. In the Church, visitors tour an apocalyptic wasteland populated by undead carnivores and toys that have a little bit of battery life in them.
Foxhound Urban Adventures founder Shannon Bruzelius is an organizer. Growing up in Colorado, Shannon was always outdoors, putting together events such as epic games of hide-and-seek at night, holiday scavenger hunts, and New Year's Eve sledding festivals. When he moved to San Francisco, visiting friends and family put him in the role of designated tour guide, which naturally progressed into what is now Foxhound Urban Adventures.
Jericho San Francisco is a spy adventure based on the party game Jericho, which offers locals and visitors a new way to see San Francisco neighborhoods. Players are split into two teams of up to 6 people each and charged with a specific mission, then armed with a bag of modern spy gadgets, including laser-tag gear and walkie-talkies. During the game, agents race through the city for up to 4 miles and just as many hours, sightseeing, outwitting opponents, and wasting time interrogating statues.
Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad's track may only be four miles long, but their trains cover decades in that distance. Here, a duo of antique steam engines?one built in 1913, the other in 1928?tow travelers through the piney wilderness of Sierra National Forest. Along the way, guides provide a glimpse of how America's wilderness looked to the railroad companies and loggers as they worked their way westward and shipped raw materials back east. The lesson also incorporates a bit of biology, as tour-leaders will often deviate from historical discussion to talk about local wildlife or how lumberjacks evolved their ax hands.
On certain evenings, the conductors extend the track tour from one-hour to three. Guests begin the evening with a barbecue dinner, then ride the train to a campfire for a sing-along. They then get back on the locomotive for an evening trip back to the modern era.
Saskia Darnell, Lavender Screw's head artist, has been showcasing her artwork in galleries and exhibits since she was a child. In 2006, Saskia entered the student art exhibit at the Los Angeles County Fair and took home first place, and was featured in seven other art exhibits while earning her bachelor's in fine art. Students of all levels can enjoy BYOB classes, which feature a variety of paintings for students to emulate through step-by-step instruction. Paint Your Pet nights invite artists to transform a blank canvas into a colorful homage to their dog, cat, or secretly cloned woolly mammoth.