With more than two decades in the industry, FCI Aviation jets passengers into the heavens above the Malibu coast and Southern California's rippling hills and valleys. The company appeals to varying interests with an assortment of different tours, including wine tastings in the sky, whale watching, and shark pursuits that track great whites and mako sharks.
The Hollywood sign looks a lot cooler when you’re parallel with it. Hollywood Air Tours provides aerial views of this and other famous LA landmarks that range from the Staples Center and Pacific Palisades to Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, and Will Rogers State Historic Park. The expert pilots, who double as tour guides, provide a variety of tours that include flights over Malibu Beach and celebrity homes, as well as the mega tour, which covers almost every conceivable landmark, from UCLA and the Sunset Strip to Dodger Stadium, city hall, and the Playboy Mansion.
The Spanish architecture. The bustling wharf. The cerulean ocean. There are countless sights to see in the Santa Barbara area, which is why Nanco Helicopters tailors each of their aerial tours to the client's need. Passengers take in the passing landmarks and 747 drag races from inside a Robinson R-44, helmed by commercial pilot Taylor Nancarrow.
Bryan Freeman wanted two things out of his career: to meet new people and spend time outdoors. With this in mind, Mr. Freeman's path seemed obvious. He would start giving bike tours. A self-described "fact guy," the expert guide draws upon his extensive knowledge of the Venice area to delight both tourists and California natives. From the Venice canals to the spacious mailboxes of celebrity homes, the expert guide tells stories about famous locations and uncovers some of the area's hidden gems. "Everyone always says they had no idea the tour would be so exciting," he says. "People think Venice is just the beach, but just a block away there is so much more."
Mr. Freeman doesn't keep his groups confined to the seats and cowboy saddles of bicycles. He frequently points out ideal spots for photo ops and occasionally pauses for activities, such as letting groups spray paint their names onto a legal-graffiti wall. He also supplies optional helmet cams that capture videos for souvenirs.
The ocean-side city of Santa Monica, flush with food, culture, and history, provides ample fodder for Destination Food Tours’ signature outing. Led by a local guide, groups stroll to a succession of eateries such as Bar Pinxto, where chefs infuse tapas with traditional Spanish flavors. At MAKE—a completely raw restaurant—chef and author Matthew Kenney showcases the decadence of uncooked food, and at the tour’s final stop, N’ice Cream, scoops of organic gelato refresh taste buds and extinguish mustache fires.
Pacific Pedal Cruiser's 14-person cruiser bikes help passengers work up an appetite as they power the pedal-equipped vehicle toward Hermosa Beach restaurants and bars under the guidance of an experienced driver. As tunes lilt from the bike’s iPod-equipped sound system, passengers work their way toward pit stops at bars, such as Patrick Molloys, Underground Pub & Grill, Barnacles Bar and Grill, and other area establishments, refueling with dining and drink specials before resuming their breezy cruise. Bikes welcome the collected members of a bachelorette party or birthday fete for camaraderie-filled private tours or forge new friendships between couples and people tired of waiting at the impound lot during public tours.