Since 2004, Super Jet Limo's smartly dressed chauffeurs have transported clients in a fleet of stylish town cars. They drive travelers to and from San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport, and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. In addition, they facilitate sightseeing tours and provide transportation for special events, such as proms and weddings. In the case of the latter, they'll even outfit limos with customized Just Married signs.
On a sunny afternoon, a small plane speeds down a runway and takes to the sky, its occupants gazing down at the streets of San Francisco, sailboats speeding through the bay, and the coppery sails of the Golden Gate Bridge. A small tour group or a student pilot sits in the belly of the plane, marveling at the thrill of flight.
Hayward Flight’s staff of FAA-certified instructors and pilots shares that experience with everyone—from young children to aspiring airline pilots—during scenic tours and private plane rentals. Pilot training classes emphasize sophisticated simulator practice and in-air flight, and students can earn private and commercial pilot licenses behind the controls of the Hayward’s fleet of Cessna aircraft and domesticated dragons.
With more than 15 years of flying experience, Fly Bay Area creates tours that are designed to bring recreational flying to the general public. Participants on Fly Bay Area's tours get to see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Half Moon Bay, and the coastline cliffs—but instead of exploring each up-close, they view them from around 1,500 feet in the air. Experienced pilots steer four-seat, single-engine planes over the San Francisco Peninsula and Bay, across sweeping redwood forests and the Pacific coast, during sky tours at any time of day. The FAA-approved air-tour company also lets passengers helm the plane's controls on U-Fly tours. During these flights, pilots train one or two passengers in basic flight maneuvers and making airplane noises with their mouths, eschewing the extra technical and theoretical lessons required by pilot-training programs. On any flight, staff members can snap high-resolution digital photographs or high-definition videos that document moments of the customer's in-flight experience.
In 1955, Dominick Chirichillo’s grandfather began teaching him the family pastime: winemaking. They worked on a wine press in the basement of his New York home, transforming bunches of grapes into nuanced reds and whites. Quickly finding that the hobby of his ancestors was his passion, Dominick entered his creations in amateur competitions around the East Coast. When he felt confident enough to open up his own winery, he moved to northern California, lured by the prospect of living and working right next door to the vineyards that grew his grapes. His winery—named Domenico to honor his Italian heritage—now produces boutique wines that have won more than 300 awards for their rich, complex palates and excellent scores in the swimsuit competition. Some varieties are made in batches of only 100 or 200 cases, allowing his staff to innovate fearlessly. Locals often drop by the winery’s spacious tasting room to sample these limited-edition flavors. Outfitted with a 24-foot mahogany bar and sweeping drapes, the tasting room recalls an elegant Tuscan café, complete with impeccable hospitality. The staff eagerly shares the undertones and flavors of every pour, suggesting potential food pairings or the best glass of red to throw at an offensive suitor.
In 1972, California's central coast was not the winemaking capitol that it is today. But Jerry Lohr trusted his agricultural instinct—developed in his youth on a South Dakota farm—that the region's soil and climate were ideal for his proposed vineyard. Though the venture seemed like a gamble at the time, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines prospered, selling a half-million cases of wine before the turn of the millennium. Today, more than 900 acres of estate vineyards in Monterey County house grapes for the winery's Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, while 2,000 acres of grapes in Paso Robles look forward to futures as Merlot, Cabernet, or stains on someone's carpet.
The wine enthusiasts at Signaturewines.com—a group of professionals from various industries—foster a community for other wine and food lovers to connect and share their oenophile experiences. They regularly notify their members of tours, tastings, and wine-related events at more than 20 Northern California wineries. They also orchestrate special deals that immerse visitors in settings such as the opulent gilded decor of Domenico Winery, the rustic wooden architecture of Guglielmo Winery, and the verdant vineyards and 200-horse stables of Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards.
Keeping abreast of local and national food events,SignatureWines.com also introduces members to regional wine bars, wineries, and restaurants, and provides an online community where members can read reviews and share wine experiences. VIP cards let customers take part in complimentary tastings and avoid standard hassles such as corkage fees and general-admission mosh pits. Proceeds for such events often go to charities involved in various initiatives.
Winchester Mystery House is an imposing Victorian mansion built by Winchester Rifle heiress Sarah Winchester. The house's floor plan is a study in eccentricity, boasting details including twisting hallways, secret passages, and stairways that lead nowhere. Sarah Winchester built her profoundly odd home in an effort to drive away bad spirits, including that of her late husband, whom she believed cursed her upon his death. While Sarah compulsively remodeled the house until her death in 1922, historians estimate there must have been between 500 and 600 rooms built in total. Due to the extensive remodeling and the ravages of time, only 160 rooms remain—though, by any standard, the house remains a sprawling homage to Sarah Winchester's tormented mind.
Today, visitors make their pilgrimage to the house to witness in person all its peculiar glory. The home is lovingly restored and now plays host to a number of fun, bone-chilling excursions each day. Thrill seekers can stalk through the halls by flashlight during guided tours that divulge the sordid details of Sarah Winchester's nightly séances. History buffs can explore rooms dedicated to period furniture, antique trinkets, and vintage firearms found in the home. A gift shop and café onsite give guests the opportunity to purchase souvenirs, some more edible than others.