In order to pursue his passion for flying, Anaheim Helicopters founder Mark Skinner left his home in England and began the journey to his current West Coast home. Now, in stable, modern, and air-conditioned helicopters, Mark stirs the air above Los Angeles and Orange County to provide passengers with views of rugged mountains and iconic buildings. During tours, Mark points out landmarks such as the Sunset Strip, the Capitol Records Building, and Dodger Stadium before soaring between skyscrapers, over famous homes, and in V-formation with migrating geese. In addition to piloting helicopters, Mark joins with a team of FAA–certified flight instructors to lead aviation lessons for aspiring pilots.
PickUp USA takes the infamous pitfalls of pickup basketball—uneven teams, sloppy play, and incessant arguing over fouls and whose mama gives the best hugs—and replaces them with officiated and organized game play without the restrictions of a league. Its members hit the courts in a pristine 17,000-square-foot space, which features a lounge, a stretching area, and courts built by the designers who create them for the NCAA and NBA. Here, California Basketball Officials Association–trained referees officiate one-on-one to five-on-five games every day and night of the year. Though they are unscheduled, the matchups unfold in an organized, staff-guided fashion, a scoreboard keeps track of points, and a constantly running clock keeps games rotating.
The instructors at California Survival School impart decades of wilderness-survival know-how during outdoor, hands-on courses. Participants prepare themselves to live self sufficiently off the land using both modern and primitive techniques, which can come in handy when lost in the woods or the year 1412. During the Core Survival Skills Adventure Clinic, up to 30 students spend five hours learning to create fire using only sticks, build shelters with natural materials, purify water, and feed themselves off the land. The Ancient Artisans Workshop teaches novices how to fashion crude implements from scratch with materials found in nature, and how to use them while out in the wilderness. California Survival School also offers team-building workshops and private events.
Epic voyaging need not be reserved for classical heroes who speak in dactylic hexameter. Just as Odysseus slayed the hurricane from aboard his inflatable raft, you too can conquer vengeful waters with today's Groupon to Gold Rush Whitewater Rafting. For just $50, you'll go on a heart-pumping, rapid-raging tour of the South Fork of the American River (44% off a $90 value).
Whittier Narrows trains and nurtures novice and advanced tennis players with its roster of iTennis lessons, USTA adult league teams, and well-kept courts. Each of Whittier Narrows’ 16 courts are painted U.S. Open shades of blue and green to emulate professional play and increase ball visibility, and are fully lighted for nighttime and solar eclipse play. Tennis center memberships entitle players to complimentary perks such as a one-hour drill clinic, a racket demo program, weekly stroke clinics, and free ball machine rental (during off-peak hours), as well as a 10% discount in the pro shop and discounts on classes. After rinsing away sweat and lingering grunts in the men’s and women’s locker rooms, an airy member lounge invites athletes to relax on a leather couch and enjoy wireless Internet, a flat-screen television, and refreshments.
A sprawling multisport facility, Next Level Sports Complex welcomes athletes from all walks to train, join youth and adult leagues, or enroll in athletic clinics and camps. The complex contains 11 basketball courts, 14 volleyball courts, and 4 turf fields for soccer and other sports. When they're not participating in open-gym and league games, athletes can take advantage of the weight-training facilities or various fitness courses.
At Top Tennis at La Habra Tennis Center, shots skip and spring across a dozen pro-grade courts seven days per week. Recognizing that tennis, like competitive puppy petting, is one of the few sports that can be played from childhood through the golden years, the professionally staffed USTA facility makes sure to serve up programs for all ages and skill levels. Programs for advanced players provide competitive and tournament training, whereas youth services, such as 8 and Under programs, teach pintsize racket holders the basics on smaller-scale courts. Yearly memberships, USTA leagues, and pay-to-play options round out the center's arsenal of specialties, and an onsite pro-shop stocks the latest shoes, rackets, and accessories so players won't have to download gear onto their bodies before each match.