Flavors of Laguna's tasting tours meander to well-known Laguna Beach restaurants as well as eateries kept quiet by locals, with tastings of a wide variety of cuisines along the way. Though stops can vary, past trips have seen tour-goers dig spoons into Dolce Gelato's creamy handcrafted treats, sample sizzling dishes at La Sirena Grill, or cozy up to the horseshoe island bar at Lumberyard. (Wine or beer tastings are available for an extra fee.) Between bites, guides point out major sights during casual strolls around Laguna's streets, ensuring that tours, like city maps made of chocolate, are informative as well as delicious.
From its beach-adjacent headquarters at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, OC Helicopters whisks clients away on aerial tours that deliver a rare vantage point for familiar southern California places and Orange County beaches. The owner and head pilot mans air-conditioned and reliable Robinson R44 helicopters and other aircraft that can comfortably seat three or four passengers in chairs that provide a 180-degree view. Customers choose from a number of aerial tour routes, veering south over Laguna Beach's luxury golf courses and sprawling houses or hovering near Crystal Cove and Newport Beach. Helicopters can also head northwest and take the Surf City Tour, which traces the shoreline while supplying an aviator's eyeful of Dana Point's population of surfers as they come ashore to lay their bronze eggs. OC Helicopters also offers custom tours.
Deanna and Renee's memories of childhood are bathed in the warm, nostalgic glow of bustling family celebrations nourished by Northern Italian dishes and homemade wine. So influential were these culinary family traditions that the sisters banded together in adulthood to share their love of fine dining and their hometown with visitors from across the globe. Thus Old Towne Orange Walking Food Tours was born, a venture that enables the pair to shepherd curious foodies and history buffs of all ages through Old Towne Orange during their meticulously planned culinary walking tours.
The leisurely paced tours introduce guests to the town’s diverse selection of bistros, bakeries, and farmers' markets via numerous stops to sample house specialties. The Orange Sampler Tour introduces palates to the panoply of cuisines in the county –from heirloom tomato salad to french baked potato soup.
Beside the Rhine River in Germany or in sun-soaked fields in Tuscany and California, vines grow heavy with ripe fruit. These jewel-toned morsels fill bottles at PRP Wine International, whose consultants then share the global terroir during special events and private tastings at home. Each staff member has a library of facts about wine production and consumption on the tip of their tongue, as well as several varieties of corkscrews hanging from their mandated utility belt. Their mission is to cultivate an appreciation of fine wines by introducing clients to global varieties—from beaujolais to chianti—while sharing food pairing ideas and recipes, and educating clients about the winemaking process and wine in general.
An online shop organizes varietals, such as montepulciano and gewürztraminer, by their taste profile and country of origin, and sparkling wines are searchable by price point. To deepen their client's connection to their favorite bottle, they may either be etched or emblazoned with custom labels that commemorate an event or deliver a dry thank you.
When Brian McInerney reflects on the humble beginnings of Wheel Fun Rentals, he points to his childhood passion for bikes. "As far back as I can remember, I had a real love affair with bicycles," he recalls. During a trip to Italy in 1987, Brian's affinity for cycling blossomed into a full-fledged obsession when he spotted locals' transporter of choice, the surrey. Inspired, he began importing the Italian four-wheelers to a rental business in the U.S. that eventually expanded into Wheel Fun Rentals, now a nationwide web of shops that also loans out bikes, electric cars and mopeds, and man-powered watercraft. Adventuresome athletes can also compete in activities such as surrey scavenger hunts and blindfold obstacle courses navigated via shouted instructions from a seeing teammate or exceptionally long rounds of trial and error.