a Private Tour of Catalina
The locals refer to this patch of open land in the center of Santa Catalina Island‘s only town, Avalon, as “Machine Gun Park.” The name comes from the mounted World War I German machine gun standing out in the open space. City Park, as the grounds are formally named, acquired this memento of man’s inhumanity from the local American Legion post along with the metal helmet you can see below the weapon. Not that this is the best reason to visit Santa Catalina Island by any means, but it is something that caught our eyes as we were exploring the town as part of a private Los Angeles tour. We flew to the island by helicopter. All of our helicopters are twin-engine aircraft so we can safely and legally make the 23-mile journey from the Los Angeles shore over to the largest of the Channel Islands strung along the Southern California coast. Once on the island we can avail ourselves of any number of fun activities from sightseeing to ziplining, shopping to snorkeling, community activities to deep sea fishing. Oh, and there’s talk of a ghost in the park. Catalina Island is a tiny offshore paradise from where you can easily see the giant city of Los Angeles…a getaway without going far…a perfect luxury tour destination.
Private Tour Flies Over Then Drives Back
to the Santa Monica Pier
The private Los Angeles tour guests enjoying a good look at the city’s coastline on our luxury helicopter were amazed that so many people were out on the beach and the Santa Monica Pier for this fine autumn day. Los Angeles life is something so many of our guests are curious about. We fly over the city and beaches and point to all the outdoor escapes the population enjoys all through the year: hiking, fishing, surfing, horseback riding, off road activities. The nearby mountains have enough snow for skiing and snowboarding when the winter arrives with enough precipitation and cold temperatures at higher elevations. Los Angeles, an important financial and industrial metropolis, the movie capital, is also a fitness and outdoor recreation mecca. We even offer our guests hiking and fitness tours to combine sightseeing with physical activity (hiking, horseback riding, surfing lessons, bicycling, inline skating, Segways, skeet shooting, iFly – whatever they think of we arrange). As for our guests seeing the crowds at the pier we double back after the aerial tour and visit it with them so they can enjoy all the fun, too.
Our Private Tour Guests Wish They
Were in the Vintage Chevy
This is a recent photograph of an antique automobile out for a spin on a Beverly Hills street. We saw (our private Los Angeles tour guests noticed first) this beautifully maintained Chevrolet Impala, vintage late 50s or early 60s, turning onto Wilshire Boulevard from Rodeo Drive near the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (very popular with our clientele). Our younger guests were able to read the markings and insignia but those of us in the office who have been around a while knew the Impala when we looked at the photos from the tour. As we wish farmers would identify what is growing in their fields near the freeway and along major roads, we also wish owners of these exquisite vintage automobiles would have some placard exactly identifying the vehicle for all the curious onlookers whose attention they know they are attracting. Maybe someday an enterprising app developer will create software for our cellphones that will be able to determine the make, model and year of any car we encounter. A program like that would be as essential to a Southern Californian as a bird identifier app is for an Audobon Society member. The beauty of the climate here is that these classic cars can be driven throughout the year and so always remind us of the beautiful car designs of earlier days.
Private Hiking Tour to the Hollywood Sign
Pays Big Dividends
We incorporate a good amount of walking on each private Los Angeles tour we do if our guests are up to it. With our family and small group approach it is a simple matter to park the vehicle and walk around enjoying the nice weather and the sights to see and taking a whole bunch of digital photographs for our guests’ tour album that they can share immediately. There are some places that we cannot drive close to see. One of those destinations is the Hollywood Sign. We can get close enough for most but if our guests want to examine the construction of the old billboard and the views of Hollywood, Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley available from the top of Mt. Lee then a hike is in order. We offer a number of hiking tours for our fitness loving visitors to Los Angeles and the easiest one, and the most fun in terms of sightseeing, is our walk up the service road to the Emergency Services facility above and behind the world famous Hollywood landmark. From here we look down on the back of the Hollywood Sign and out into the Los Angeles basin. You can see the Griffith Observatory and downtown Los Angeles in this picture and even the location of the Bat Cave from the old television series (we walk right past it; the cave was also used in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers). The walk is delightful, the views extraordinary and we can still explore the other Hollywood sights and locations that everyone wants to see during the tour.
Construction Does not Diminish the
Ocean Views on Santa Monica Tour
We filled up our extra large luxury vehicle for this family tour all around Los Angeles and out to Santa Monica to visit the beaches. The clear day provided us with extraordinary views of the Channel Islands off the city coast and a chance to see a major construction project upgrading the ramp up and down from Santa Monica to PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). Kids love big dirt movers, cranes and pavers and there are plenty to be seen just above the great old homes that were first on the beach when Hollywood was still making movies without soundtracks or color. Back in those days the trip from Hollywood to Santa Monica could take a half a day. Today we get there much faster unless we stop at any number of historic and interesting destinations along the way (studios, art installations, celebrity homes, boutique shops). Los Angeles is dense with history interesting to our private luxury tour guests that has happened mostly since the beginning of the last century when the film cameras came to town. And for the kids there is the Santa Monica Pier.
Dramatic Los Angeles Skies for Our
Private Helicopter Tour to Fly Through
The eye of the storm is arriving and Century City and downtown Los Angeles are highlighted in an aerial photograph we took for our private Los Angeles tour guests. We are above the beach in Santa Monica looking east as the clouds roll through. The rain is welcome for both the water in our parched community and the cooling temperatures. We are entering our other season now, the “wet” season or the “green” season is how we refer to the part of the year when, from time to time, we experience a rainstorm and inclement weather. Most often the rain comes at night just like Camelot. We seldom find a need to postpone a helicopter tour. Our hiking tours might need to be avoided for a day or two after a good soaking but for the most part every kind of tour we provide we do throughout the year. We carry umbrellas on board and know some excellent indoor destinations to enjoy the history of Los Angeles.
Our Private Tour from Los Angeles Sees the Seals
Great mounds of elephant seals lie around all day long on the narrow beaches near Cambria along the Central Coast of California. A beautiful drive up Highway 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway, El Camino Real) on a private tour from Los Angeles to visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon takes us near the Piedras Blancas rookery where these behemoths spend their land time basking in the sunshine. They don’t worry at all about solar rays exposure and swimmer safety. Even the visitors trodding along the wooden walkways seem not to disturb them. These magnificent beasts, pinnipeds, are the largest of the seal-like creatures weighing as much as 4 tons and running 20 feet long. They spend 80% of their lives in the water and are able to swim beneath the surface of the sea for as long as 100 minutes and dive to almost 5,000 feet. No wonder they loll around so languidly when they hit the beautiful beaches of California. Our tour guests enjoying an adventure along the coast can really get close to these animals once hunted nearly to extinction and now just a normal part of the ocean ecosystem along with their other relatives, harbor seals and sea lions, that we regularly see along the Los Angeles coast. Are there animals on the beach today? Just look at this webcam.
No Hustle or Bustle from Our Los Angeles Tour
Rooftop departures are de rigueur for any of our helicopter tours over and around Los Angeles. We offer a number of convenient airports for our guests to chose where they wish to take off from depending on the part of the city where they are staying or the route we take from their hotel to the airport. We also give our private Los Angeles tour guests the opportunity to see what it is like to lift off from atop a tall building in the heart of downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). Our guests notice as we fly up and over the city that all the skyscrapers have helipad markings and windsocks. However, these are only for emergency use by fire department, medical and law enforcement helicopters. There are only a couple of helipads permitted to handle commercial aircraft and our tours are invited to use one of them. As soon as we clear the rooftop we are hundreds of feet above the busy downtown streets and in between even taller buildings. We look into the windows of busy people working at desks or watching us enviously wishing they were about to fly out to the coast and low over the waves as far north as Malibu. Our route takes us over the fancy neighborhoods of Brentwood, Bel Air and Beverly Hills and then along the Sunset Strip into Hollywood. There we always like to thrill our aviation guests with a closeup eye level look at the Hollywood Sign. Our luxury helicopters are smooth and comfortable and, as twin-engine aircraft, safe to fly over the channel to Catalina Island if our guests wish. As exciting as the take off from the rooftop is flying back down to land on what seems a tiny piece of Los Angeles real estate is a true adventure.
Nothing Like a Private Tour to Experience
Beverly Hills Ghosts
What was spooky enough after sunset as we drove down Sunset Boulevard through Beverly Hills was almost spooktacular on another private Los Angeles tour early on the morning after Halloween. As the mist lifted we saw dead ghosts floating in the trees and witches impaled by broomsticks halfway up palm trees. Skeletons immobilized by the brilliant golden Southern California sunlight shifted in the slight breeze. Cobwebs sagged from the dew and giant moribund spiders glistened. Our guests discussed Walt Disney’s Fantasia and its realization of Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and could hear in their minds the morning bells ringing to Ave Maria and calling the faithful after a night of macabre revelry. Beverly Hills does Halloween well and celebrity pedigree almost takes a back seat to which mansion has a better nightmarish display. We know entire neighborhoods that compete with spookhouse decor and can create a custom luxury tour through Los Angeles visiting all these neighborhoods.
Guides Surprise Our Private Tour Guests
with Lunch at Clifton’s
Clifton’s Cafeteria has always been a superlative dining establishment in downtown Los Angeles (DTLA): best food, cheapest food, most food served, largest space, most people served. Just recently reopened the new owners seek to maintain as many of those superlative descriptions as they can…and we surely hope they will. So far we are very impressed. Clifton’s Cafeteria is the only remaining restaurant of a chain of eight themed food palaces built by Clifford Clinton. The first opened in 1931. The only remaining Clifton’s saw its first diners in 1935 and was named Brookdale after a lodge in the Santa Cruz Mountains near where Clifford camped with his family as a youngster. That explains the outdoors motif – redwood trees, bears and other wild animals, a waterfall. The family-owned business operated to feed its patrons well and at a reasonable cost, sometimes with only ½¢ profit for each meal. Pay-what-you-can and even free meals were provided for those unable to pay. This unfortunate group included at one time Ray Bradbury when he was a struggling writer. Charles Bukowski, too. The newly remodeled Clifton’s Cafeteria might run a little more money than in the past and be less inclined to feed the poor but is definitely a dining experience to be sought by locals as well as us with our guests on a private Los Angeles tour.