Most presidents don't have yachts these days. Perhaps they're content with schooners, Air Force Ones, and secret teleporters. But Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a yacht that he treasured to his dying day. The USS Potomac isn't the type of seacraft that ferries playboys sipping mimosas and listening to Hall and Oates. It's a former Coast Guard cutter Electra boasting 416 tons of inertia designed for up to 30 knots of cruising speed; it's intended for authoritarian command. When the Squire of Hyde Park held the reins, the 165-foot vessel played host to political meetings, the very first visit of the British monarchy, and fishing trips, and it even served as a decoy while FDR and Churchill crafted the Atlantic Charter between games of Marco Polo. But when he passed, his sweet ship suffered decades of decrepit owners, including Elvis Presley, and nearly docked for good in heaven's scrapyard before a 12-year, $5 million restoration returned her luster.
Now docked at Jack London Square where landlubbers savor dockside tours, the floating testament to the New Deal maker also departs on chartered cruises and history tours. The expert docents give the full dossier on the FDR, his buoyant baby, and the history of San Francisco Bay as tour-goers soak in the sights and high seas.
Though Captain Charles Jennings' former life includes stints as first officer and tugboat engineer aboard several historic water vessels, he now exclusively leads daily tours of San Francisco Bay on his 28-foot custom-built, U.S. Coast Guard–approved rigid inflatable boat. He calls upon his previous maritime experience when passing sites such as the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, which he served on during the vessel's 50th anniversary voyage. He also regales passengers with the bay's history, legend, and official twitter account while the boat skims the water at up to nearly 40 miles per hour, courtesy of its 300-horsepower Yamaha engine.
Most tours operate on set routes, highlighting the bay's verdant islands, mooring sites of abandoned Gold Rush ships, and estuaries teeming with still-active cargo ships and lost Marco Polo players. However, Captain Jennings is willing to deviate from the set structures to suit passengers' interests. As far as passenger safety and comfort are concerned, he equips his boat with first-aid kits, motion-sickness remedies such as ginger ale and ginger candies, dry storage for personal effects, and foul-weather gear.
Owner Jeff Cohn of JC Cellars has always been interested in the world of wine, but it wasn't until he tasted a Chateauneuf-du-Pape that the cosmos unfurled before him. "To go from tasting only single varietals to a blend really opened my eyes," he wrote in his bio. He started crafting his own wines and tinkering with production methods, experimenting with different yeast strains. Cohn eventually produced the 2003 Rhodes Vineyard Zinfandel, which was named number three on Wine Spectator's Top 100 List—the first time a California Zinfandel had even been in the top 10.
Now, Cohn curates a roster of 21 vintages based on Rhone grape varietals at JC Cellars. The wines are the product of both his own production techniques and time-tested French methods. Visitors to the cellars can gaze upon the aging barrels during tastings led by seasoned wine educators, before taking a bottle home to christen a life-size replica of the Millennium Falcon.
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.
Although it hasn't quite reached the level of Napa Valley's 400-plus wineries, the East Bay's wine scene has experienced a rebirth—and East Bay Winery Bike Tours intends to ride right alongside as it continues to grow. Led by owner Jon Zalon, the company takes to the streets on two wheels to explore the area's ever-expanding collection of urban wineries and the faces behind the bottles at each stop.
In 2012, Diablo magazine plopped East Bay Winery Bike Tours at No. 10 on its "50 Things You Gotta do This Summer" list. No matter the season, EBWBT's rides present safe, scenic routes that include everything from a trip to an Oakland estuary to a pleasant cruise down Alameda's palm-lined streets—all without having to rent a car or a horse to drive that car. Every tour also makes sure to set aside plenty of time to soak in the surroundings, including picnics packed with homemade food.
Segway of Oakland harbors a fleet of off-road Segway x2s and street-friendly Segway i2s, which renters mount for city tours, lessons, and offsite events. Both tours and lessons begin with a video overview of segway basics to acquaint the rider and the ridden. Tours then traverse the city, with guides sharing historical tidbits on Oakland’s oak-ruled past on a route that hits Jack London Square, the downtown sector, and the shores of Lake Merritt. Group lessons jet through skill-building exercises in parking lots and on bike paths. After building confidence, students graduate to higher speeds and more varied terrains, such as bridges and grassy fields, and lessons culminate in an independent ride. Segway of Oakland can also enrich team-building events for companies or exceptionally competitive families with segway demonstrations.