Now that eating on an ordinary table or atop a stack of Chinese acrobats seem horribly passé, adventurous foodies are seeking the next unconventional dining experience. Today's Groupon puts a little motion under your meal with two gourmet dinners on the Napa Valley Wine Train for $99 (a $198 value for dinner, $188 value for lunch). Treat yourself and a loved one to a three-hour ride through Napa Valley on an antique locomotive engine, accompanied by a delicious gourmet meal in lieu of the traditional mysterious murder.
There's nothing quite like a bicycle ride over rolling hillsides for shaking up the doldrums of daily idling. The shuttle bus will pick up bikeseekers between 8 and 9 a.m. and head across the Golden Gate Bridge toward wine country. Upon arrival, the guided bike ride begins, and you'll hop from winery to winery like a king on a checkerboard. All the tour guides are trained sommeliers with craniums filled with wine knowledge—and possibly wine. Sample varietals aperitifs along the course of the journey and stop for a delightful picnic lunch among the vineyards. The shuttle bus will follow along to carry anything purchased at the wineries or to assist thoroughly tuckered trekkers. Daytrippers are returned to the city by 7 p.m., in time to share the sunset with a lucky loved one—a girlfriend, a husband, a bottle of wine wearing a wig, etc. Purchase up to four of today's deal and invite friends, family, or a group of beloved strangers to join the journey. If you want to bring a friend along who doesn't possess a Groupon, that person will get 20% off the tour.
Housed within the heart of Golden Gate Park, Park Chalet Garden Restaurant manages to simultaneously embrace its natural surroundings and its contemporary, urban setting. Glass walls and ceilings completely surround the diners, affording them pastoral views of Queen Wilhelmina's windmill and the dutch-tulip garden without sacrificing the comfort of an indoor environment. During warm, sunny days, natural light floods the space and the retractable glass doors slide open to admit warm breezes. The dining room's pendant lamps and immense stone fireplace become invaluable at night, keeping the restaurant brightly lit and the temperatures toasty throughout the evening.
To complement this elegantly cozy ambiance, Executive Chef Matthew Urban and his team devised a menu of familiar comfort foods with subtly refined touches. Smoked paprika oil adds an unfamiliar yet welcome burst of savory flavor to the fried chicken, and cornmeal-crusted trout arrives at tables with an aromatic saffron aioli. Occasionally, the chefs look for inspiration in other cuisines and fuse those flavors with Californian ingredients. Crushed avocados add to the ahi tuna tartare's richness, but the dish's ginger-sesame vinaigrette balances those flavors with a hint of zesty spice.
However, the chefs aren't the only culinary talent at Park Chalet Garden Restaurant. The staff also brews a variety of beers in-house, crafting everything from smoky, German-style märzens to refreshingly hoppy IPAs. As diners enjoy one of these brews with their meal, they can take in the views and applaud the local bands and extraterrestrial magicians that perform every Tuesday evening.
Swirl and Sip Wine Tours' vino veteran Rozanna Picantin chauffeurs aspiring sommeliers through the varied bouquets and sweeping scenery of Napa and Sonoma wine country. A native of the famed valleys for 53 years, Ms. Picantin ferries parties from as far south as San Francisco and Walnut Creek in her roomy Lincoln Navigator to showcase the pride of Northern California's beautiful wine valleys and breathtaking highway system. Clients benefit from their savvy guide's insider knowledge as they work with her to create a customized itinerary of four to six attention-worthy estates, where they'll spend up to 90 minutes jaunting through fields, delving into cellars, and tasting three to four vintages of world-renowned grown-up grape juice.
While most 21-year-olds are content to just sit in a bar and drink beer, Mike Johannsen was a bit more active about his newly legal status. As soon as he came of age, he started brewing in his dorm room at CalPoly San Luis Obispo. Over the years, he has explored almost every angle of the business, from equipment maintenance to cellaring, packaging, and quality assurance. In 2013, he founded Schubros Brewery alongside Ian Schuster, a London Business School grad and craft beer aficionado.
In the short time that Schubros has been operational, they have already done a lot to distinguish themselves from other breweries. For starters, all their brews are organic: varietals include Diablo Sunrise, a chocolate-orange imperial stout, and 680 IPA, a mahogany ale with notes of caramel and toffee. Schubros also gives 1% of their profits to various local organizations. Customers can go online to vote on where the money should go each quarter; options include environmental groups, school districts, and fire departments.