In order to pursue his passion for flying, Anaheim Helicopters founder Mark Skinner left his home in England and began the journey to his current West Coast home. Now, in stable, modern, and air-conditioned helicopters, Mark stirs the air above Los Angeles and Orange County to provide passengers with views of rugged mountains and iconic buildings. During tours, Mark points out landmarks such as the Sunset Strip, the Capitol Records Building, and Dodger Stadium before soaring between skyscrapers, over famous homes, and in V-formation with migrating geese. In addition to piloting helicopters, Mark joins with a team of FAA–certified flight instructors to lead aviation lessons for aspiring pilots.
Water splashes up against their toes, which are firmly planted on the board. Arm and back muscles tighten as they push themselves forward with their paddles. Thus do novice paddleboarders from Long Beach Adventure Tours ride slowly glide their way across Long Beach, from the shore of the Hotel Maya to the behemoth hull of the Queen Mary. But they aren't the only patrons out for fun in the sun. On the beach nearby, students carrying surfboards rush into the water to catch their first waves, as a certified instructor shouts out encouragement and instructions behind them. Further out in the water, a colorful arched sail cuts through the air, sending the kiteboarder holding the reigns jumping and twisting into the air. Whatever the sport or activity, instructors that live and breathe water activities unleash their expertise onto both novice and experienced students.
Catalina Air Harbor's team whisks visitors into the Los Angeles skies, providing their passengers with stunning views of Long Beach, Catalina Island, and Los Angeles Harbor from a vantage point normally reserved for soaring birds and trampoline test jumpers. Launching from Long Beach Airport, the pilots helm brief scenic tours, taking passengers on sunset flights amid the clouds and opening their eyes to a new perspective of the southern California coastline.
Catalina Adventure Tours’ aquatic guides unlock the secrets of island living during submarine and glass-bottom-boat tours or interior land excursions. Safely submersed below sea level aboard the military replica SS Nautilus, groups of up to 45 search the waters for rapidly growing ladder kelp, boisterous fish, and reflections they think are sea spirits, and those riding in glass-bottom boats start feeding frenzies among hungry schools gliding below. Alternatively, guests can spy bald eagles and buffalo during an Inside Adventure tour or gaze over cacti speckling the foreground of sweeping ocean views from the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens on the City Botanical Garden tour. Catalina Adventure Tours also runs evening missions with guides serving as curators of ocean nightlife and designated drivers for seahorse discotheques.
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.