The team of FAA-certified pilots at San Carlos Flight Center opens up the world of aviation to aspiring pilots and sightseers. During comprehensive flight instruction, the team teaches pupils the skills needed to operate flight controls, land, take off, and keep seagulls from mistaking the plane as their king. Training sessions include everything from private pilot certification to specialty and advanced training. High-tech simulators such as the Xwind help burgeoning aerialists get their bearings before soaring the skies in a Cessna suited for training. To share bird's-eye vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge, coastal cliffs, and the city of San Francisco huddled up against the blue Bay, the crew also offers aerial tours.
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 Flying Dolphins' tours, dolphins don't fly?participants do. They skim the waves or soar high above California on an amphibious flying trike, helmed by an FAA-certified pilot. From their bird's-eye view, riders often catch glimpses of aquatic life, from dolphins and sea lions to elusive whales. Riders can fly over the coast or fly over Lake Tahoe.
Drivers are only as good as their cars, which is why SFC Limo's ace chauffeurs keep a fleet of superior sedans and stretch limos on hand. They rev up the stretch limos during weddings and specialty group trips to Muir Woods, Napa Valley, and throughout downtown San Francisco. Passengers can customize the daylong jaunts by telling their driver to head toward a certain nightspot, park alongside a specific scenic view, or veer into a certain winery to get the ghosts of the California Raisins off their trail. For more business-minded migrations, the drivers hop into their sedans and transport guests to San Jose, Oakland, or San Francisco airports.
The history of wine in the Livermore Valley spans 250 years. Spanish missionaries planted the region's first grapes in the 18th century, and Robert Livermore sowed the first commercial vines in the mid-19th. These early efforts led to America's first international gold medal for wine at the 1889 Paris Exposition, when California grapes beat out bordeaux in the annual race to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The guides at Livermore Valley Wine & Cycle Tours lead cyclists into this historic, scenic valley in which some 40 wineries currently reside. Rides between them follow moderate routes, letting peddlers soak in views of the canyons and ridges that rise and fall between the clustered rows of vines.
"If you want to aggressively snack your way through a neighborhood as you walk it," says Fodor's, "consider hanging with cookbook author Tom Medin or one of his local guides." Medin is one of the founders of Local Tastes of the City Tour/SF Food Tours, and he personally leads many of the company's walking tours, which seek out the soul of the city in its bakeries, restaurants, and cafes. The hunt for hidden gems might lead to Chinatown's oldest bakery and a fortune cookie-making demonstration, or through an authentic Western saloon. The North Beach tour, which has been recommended by Lonely Planet, presents a behind-the-scenes look at coffee-roasting by way of the favored hangouts of the Beat Generation. Even when a tour skirts the city's iconic landmarks via painted bus, each stop is replete with tastings and demos, which is why the guides recommend that visitors avoid eating before a tour or swallowing their backpacks for safekeeping.