Ryan Curtis loves local history, sunshine, and exercise, and he just happened to be clever enough to combine all three into a career. As the owner of Roam Local, he offers—and leads—private and semiprivate walking tours that explore the hidden stairways, alleyways, and gardens of San Francisco. As groups walk, hidden terraces with stunning views as well as famous sights come into view, usually from unexpected angles. That perspective often creates stunning photo opportunities that can’t be found on postcards, such as the Golden Gate Bridge before it’s infused with its morning coffee. As your guide walks and talks, they supplement their information with an interactive iPad presentation and San Francisco’s other standout: its balmy weather.
The cable car is an important piece of San Franciscan history, but you don't have to go to a museum to see one. Instead, you can ride one yourself thanks to the California Street Cable Car Line. Used for private charters and holiday tours, the company was started in 1958 by Arnold Gridley and now has a fleet of over 20 vintage-inspired vehicles. Each one was built using the original cable car blueprint, which means solid oak benches, brass rails, and a sepia conductor at the helm. These iconic features have led to numerous appearances in numerous TV shows, movies and commercials, from Nash Bridges to The Hulk and ads for Pepsi.
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.
Named the best domestic airline for three consecutive years by both Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler, Virgin America boasts a fleet of all-new Airbus A320 and A319 planes that house a cavalcade of cabin comforts, including custom leather seats with a spacious 32-inch pitch in economy class, and international-grade white leather seats with a 55-inch pitch in first class. All seats also come equipped with 9-inch video touchscreens with keyboards and remote controls, 110-volt power outlets, and almond-butter churns. A pioneer of in-flight WiFi (for an additional fee), Virgin America allows tech-loving travelers to stay connected while lapping up the luxury of the airline's 12-shade cool pink-and-blue mood lighting, which creates an atmosphere that the Los Angeles Times compared to "an airborne discotheque."
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.