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.
Today’s Groupon values the optimism of having something to run for by combining exercise and charitability: for $25, you get entry into the Thanksgiving Day Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot charity race, a commemorative T-shirt, and post-run refreshments, an up to $40 value.Fun Run: Leaves you feeling great physically and spiritually. Football: Leaves you with in-depth knowledge of beer selling points.
With a stay at Hotel Diva, you'll be centrally located in San Francisco, steps from SHN Curran Theatre and American Conservatory Theater. This romantic hotel is close to Academy of Art University and Lombard Street. n Rooms
Make yourself at home in one of the 114 air-conditioned rooms featuring flat-screen televisions. Complimentary wireless Internet access keeps you connected, and cable programming is available for your entertainment. Bathrooms feature shower/tub combinations, designer toiletries, and complimentary toiletries. Conveniences include safes and desks, as well as multi-line phones with voice mail. n Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities
Take advantage of recreation opportunities such as a 24-hour fitness facility, or other amenities including complimentary wireless Internet access and concierge services. n Dining
Grab a bite to eat at the hotel's restaurant, which features a bar, or stay in and take advantage of room service (during limited hours). Mingle with other guests at a complimentary manager's reception, held daily at evening. At the end of the day, relax with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge. n Business, Other Amenities
Featured amenities include a 24-hour business center, a computer station, and audiovisual equipment. Parking (subject to charges) is available onsite, and additional parking (subject to charges) can be found nearby.
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.
After 13 years in the culinary industry, Lisa Armstrong founded Local Roots Food Tours to teach fellow foodies, locals, and visitors about the rich cultural and culinary history of Northern California. Armstrong told Michaela Stewart of the Sacramento Press that she got the idea for the company following a food tour in Seattle. After hours of local library research, she has compiled tours whose locations range "from a farm-to-table upscale restaurant to a small and special bistro to a funky coffeehouse off the beaten path to a mom and pop deli market."
Ranked as the No. 1 tour in Sacramento by TripAdvisor, Local Roots takes guests behind the scenes to meet talented chefs, farmers, and business owners who are passionate about local and organic cuisine. Farm tours showcase the origins of fresh ingredients and wines, and food tours explore the history and architecture of Sacramento. Tours also head to destinations such as Murphys, where 19th-century Italianate brick and stone buildings house locally sourced produce, locally made wines, and the pickpocketing ghosts of Gold Rush–era settlers. The Girls on the Grid food bloggers "discovered a restaurant, deli, bakery and coffee shop" during their tour, and Blair Anthony Robertson of the Sacramento Bee liked the fact that the tours are "bringing positive energy to neighborhoods."