By Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
Whether it’s soaring over the ocean in a seaplane or doing aerobatics over vineyards in a biplane, river rafting, rock climbing, bungee jumping or auto racing, California offers more than its fair share of stimulating activities for the thrill-seeking traveler.
Of course, what one traveler considers to be a thrilling adventure, another might see as boring as a “day at the office.” Thrill-seeking is all in the eye of the beholder.
Today’s travelers, of all ages, are increasingly seeking out activities that provide a “thrill,” or the “rush,” of being alive.
Seaplane tours add the excitement of sightseeing from the air to the unique thrill of taking off and landing on water.
Seaplane Tours of San Francisco offers a Champagne Sunset Tour that includes not only flutes of champagne with a San Francisco sunset, but also views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. seaplane.com.
San Diego Seaplanes offer tours of San Diego from the air departing from San Diego Bay. It also offers seaplane flight lessons. Visit www.sandiegoseaplanes.com.
Don your flying helmet and ride shotgun in a 1941 World War II open cockpit biplane. Prepare to soar over the vineyards and rolling hills of the Sonoma Valley. Enjoy breathtaking views of fields and vineyards while you fly only hundreds of feet in the air. For the truly adventures you can also choose the option to add aerobatic maneuvers to your flight. www.vintageaircraft.com.
There are dozens of helicopter tours, offered by a variety of companies, throughout Southern California. Choose a tour of downtown Los Angeles, coastal beach communities or Southern California landmarks, see your home from an entirely new perspective.
A helicopter tour can be a romantic date night experience or a birthday or anniversary gift. If photography is your hobby, a helicopter tour gives the opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime photos.
Los Angeles Helicopter Tours offers a variety of tour packages from three SoCal airports, Van Nuys Airport, Burbank Airport and El Monte Airport. los-angeles-helicopter-tours.com,
Los Angeles Helicopters offers 13 different tour packages including a Downtown Lights Tour where you can see Los Angeles illuminated, a SoCal Surf Tour that also includes Hollywood landmarks and the LA Live Tour which includes not only downtown L.A. landmarks but also the home of the Goodyear blimp. www.lahelicopters.com
After former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday in 2014 with a tandem parachute jump in Maine, a feat he also accomplished at age 85, skydiving was added to many “must do” life experience lists.
In Southern California there are several popular options for making this “bucket list” experience a reality.
Sky Dive Santa Barbara, offers first time skydivers the same kind of tandem jump experience enjoyed by the former president with beautiful views of the Central Coast. The company offers first-time jumpers the option of jumping from either 18,000 feet, 13,000 feet or 8,000 feet along with a short training session and a jump video. skydivesanta
At Sky Dive San Diego you can bring family and friends to celebrate your jump in a special spectator zone just feet from where you land. Tandem jumps and video packages available. skydivesandiego.com,
Located at Camarillo Airport, Skydive Coastal California is less than an hour drive from the Santa Clarita Valley. It offers tandem skydives for beginners with 45 seconds of freefall from two miles high. www.skydivecoastalcalifornia.com.
Bungee jumping may be one of the most adrenaline-filled adventures available, and surprisingly, like parachuting, is on many “bucket lists.”
Bungee America offers bungee jumping from the historic Bridge to Nowhere located in San Gabriel Canyon, 30 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. The company offers daytime and nighttime jumps. bungeeamerica.com,
Bungee Adventures offers jumps from bridges, trees, dams and rocks in locations that include near Sacramento, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California close to: San Francisco, as well as Napa, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park. bungeeadventures.net
River rafting trips can be found for all ages and all skill levels.
Redwood Rides Outfitters located in Hiouchi, in the far reaches of Northern California, offers what is described as “the best overall single-day whitewater trip in the U.S.”
Raft the North Fork of the famous Smith River in the Class IV whitewater rapids adventure. The water on this river can become so clear that many have described it as looking like you’re floating on air. This experience offers rafters amazing canyon scenery, rare carnivorous plants and dozens of waterfalls, including one you can paddle under to reach “the grotto.”
This trip offers several Class IV rapids (which occasionally turn into Class V rapids) and many more Class II and III rapids. redwoodrides.com.
Race Car Driving
You Race LA located at Irwindale Speedway, is a 50-minute drive from the SCV on the I-210 freeway. Drive a stock car on the Speedway’s track, or choose a ride-along experience. The speedway features banked, paved 1/2- and 1/3-mile oval tracks and hosts NASCAR short track racing. youracela.com,
Racing Adventures offers drives the chance to drive a supercar (Cobra, Corvette, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, etc.) on the famous Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond. This is the race track automotive journalists often use to test new cars. racingadventures.com/los-angeles-
California Rock Guides is one of the oldest rock guiding companies in California, (established in 1981), with rock climbing venues from the Southern Sierra Nevada to Castle Crags next to Mount Shasta. californiarockguides.com
Rock n Rope Adventures touts the thrill of Los Angeles area rock climbing offering outdoor climbing routes for all ages and skill levels, from first-time beginners to advanced climbers. ,www.rock