Why I Loved My San Francisco Helicopter Tour

February 3, 2009 by

North America

I’ve lived in San Francisco most of my adult life. (Cue nostalgic music and violins.) I remember when I first moved here, the city was so unlike my hometown of Los Angeles. LA has freeways. San Francisco has hills. LA has golden sunsets and towering palm trees. SF has fog horns, cable cars and cafes. It’s taken many years for me to truly appreciate how unique San Francisco is. But after 17 years of on-and-off living here, I thought I had seen the city from all of its most flattering perspectives.

Well, I was wrong.

Somehow I’d lived here all these years and never seen SF from above. You get a hint of the beauty when you fly in or out of SFO airport and are lucky enough to have a window seat. And I’ve certainly spent many pleasant afternoons up on Twin Peaks, Bernal Hill, Buena Vista Park, and even that funny little park by the Randall Museum in the Castro.

San Francisco Helicopter Tour - Golden Gate Bridge 2

Golden Gate Bridge from the SF Helicopter Tour

So I signed up for one of our San Francisco helicopter tours. At first I thought the whole thing was overblown. A helicopter ride over San Francisco? Sure, whatever, it’ll be great (read: b-o-r-i-n-g). Then as the day got nearer I admit to a small, growing sense of excitement. I’d never taken a helicopter flight before, and I was a huge fan of Magnum P.I. as a kid (T.C., you’re the man!).

Then the day arrived and I became very excited. I started dropping it into my conversations casually, “OK, I’ll call you later, after my HELICOPTER RIDE” and “sure I can stop by the grocery store later tonight, after I get back from my HELICOPTER TOUR.”

San Francisco Helicopter Tour - Haight AshburySo did the helicopter tour live up to my expectations?? Let me put it this way: We flew underneath the Golden Gate Bridge at about 180 miles per hour. Let me repeat that. We flew under the Golden Gate Bridge, clearing the ocean by about 50 feet. We saw the Farallon Islands on the horizon.

We flew over Golden Gate Park and Baker Beach and Sausalito and Alcatraz and downtown San Francisco and the baseball stadium and my old house (my old house!).

So no, to answer the question, it did not live up to my expectations at all. It was sooooo much better, even with the soundtrack of San Francisco-themed songs playing in our noise-reducing headphones (Tony Bennett you, too, are the man). So yes, I loved it. It put my home in a new perspective and showed me, yet again, how beautiful this city is.

If you’re a first-time visitor, take this San Francisco helicopter tour. If you’re a seasoned traveler to San Francisco, take the helicopter tour. If you’re a local and have out-of-town guests, or are looking for a gift that’s a little different, organize the helicopter tour and you will be feted for your creative approach to sightseeing and gift giving. (Click here to see all helicopter tours in San Francisco from Viator.)

Scott McNeely

Planning a trip? Browse Viator’s San Francisco tours & things to do, including Scott’s very own favorite SF helicopter tour. If you need a place to stay, check out Hotels in San Francisco on Planetware.com.


5 Responses to “Why I Loved My San Francisco Helicopter Tour”

  1. Paul Says:

    Cheers Viator. I did this SF helicopter tour 2 weeks ago, booked through your site, easy, fast, not a single problem at all. The helicopter flight was awesome. The fog cleared on the day we went, and we had an unforgettable view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. I was not sure about the money, I thought maybe it was overblown. But in the end I agree with the reviews on your site — this is definitely a cool experience. So thanks.

  2. Barrie Nathan Says:

    How do I book the S.F, helicopter trip through your site?

  3. Scott Mc Says:

    Hi Barrie. Simply click here and follow this link, and then enter your preferred dates in the “Book in 3 Easy Steps” box on the right of the page. That’s all you need to do.


  4. Jane Says:

    my old house! Nice review, Scott.