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Best Helicopter Tours In The Bay Area

There's really nothing quite like seeing the magnificent San Francisco Bay Area than onboard a helicopter. With stunning vistas afforded only to those who are high above ground level, many world famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island can be enjoyed in a matter of minutes compared to a full day's journey by car. Fortunately for Bay Area residents and travelers from all over the world, there are a number of excellent helicopter businesses to choose from, offering a wide range of tour options. The following are five of the best helicopter tour operators in the San Francisco Bay Area.

(credit: Randy Yagi/

Bay Aerial Helicopter
815 Skyway Road
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 281-8282

Located at the San Carlos Airport, 12 miles south of the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), this local business features a grand one-hour tour to many of the Bay Area's most popular and recognizable locations. Price for Bay Area Helicopter's Works Tour is $600 per hour for up to three people. Among the highlights of this outstanding tour are spectacular aerial views of AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, Port of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island, the City of Sausalito, the historic Cliff House and the seaside communities of Pacifica, Half Moon Bay and Pescadero along California's scenic Highway 1. Bay Area Helicopter also provides helicopter tours to Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Napa Valley in the California Wine Country and the Sacramento Delta, in addition to customized tours. Visitors traveling to the San Carlos Airport must take Highway 101, then exit at Holly Street, before heading east.

Related: Spend the Day at Fisherman's Wharf

(credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

561 Sky Ranch Drive
Petaluma, CA 94954
(707) 779-9155

Although it's based in the North Bay city of Napa, Heloventure offers two locations for tour departures, from the Napa County Airport and Petaluma Municipal Airport. For any of the six Napa helicopter tours from the Napa County Airport, tour prices range from $129 per person for a 15-mile roundtrip tour of beautiful downtown Napa to $299 per person for a grand tour of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys in the idyllic California Wine Country. The Napa County Airport is located eight miles south of the city of Napa, off Highway 29 at the Highway 12 intersection. For any of the Petaluma tours, there are eight tour options ranging from $199 per person for a tour of the Sonoma Raceway to $469 per person for The Ultimate Tour of the Napa and Sonoma Valley. The Petaluma Municipal Airport is located three miles east of downtown Petaluma, near the intersection of East Washington Street and Garfield Drive. All tour prices are based upon a two-person minimum.


San Francisco Helicopters
SFO Executive Terminal
San Francisco, CA  94128
(650) 635-4500

San Francisco Helicopters is one of the highest ranked helicopter tour operators in the Bay Area. Established in 1976, this locally owned business has daily departures from SFO and Sausalito Heliport, located across the Golden Gate from San Francisco. Guests staying in San Francisco or other visitors need not travel to either departure point as this tour operator provides three convenient pick-up locations in the city: Pier 39 for the Fisherman's Wharf area, the Fairmount Hotel for Nob Hill and the Financial District and the Hilton Union Square for Union Square and south-of-Market guests. San Francisco Helicopters offers five tours, with its Vista Tour among the most popular. The Vista Tour is priced at $175 per person and $135 per child and includes shuttle pick-up and a 20-minute flight over San Francisco's most famous landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Another popular tour combines a Vista Tour Flight with an Alcatraz Island cruise and a hop-on/hop-off sightseeing shuttle with ride privileges valid for 24 hours.

(credit: George Rose/Getty Images)

Sonoma Helicopter
5000 Flightline Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 528-4883

Sonoma Helicopter specializes in tours of the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly to the world famous California Wine Country. Describing itself as the Premier Helicopter Company in Northern California, tour departures originate from the Sonoma County Airport, eight miles northwest of downtown Santa Rosa, off Highway 101 at the Fulton Road exit. A featured tour includes a lunch provided by the world famous Costeaux Bakery of Healdsburg at Mazzocco Winery with wine tasting and an entertaining helicopter tour of Dry Creek Valley and Lake Sonoma for groups of two to six passengers. Sonoma Helicopter also offers tours of the Russian River, Sonoma and Napa Valley and a Gold Edition Tour with a fabulous gourmet lunch created by a world-renowned chef.

(credit: George Rose/Getty Images)

Wine Country Helicopter
2030 Airport Road
Napa, CA 94558
(707) 226-8470

Napa-based Wine Country Helicopter offers 16 distinctive tours covering the Bay Area and other prominent California destinations like Monterey Bay, Big Sur and Lake Tahoe. Wine Country Helicopters is the official helicopter service of California's Wine Country region consisting of Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties. The business located at the Napa County Airport advertises itself as the only FAA-certified Commercial Helicopter operator based in Napa and Sonoma Counties. Wine Country Helicopters has a three-star rating from Frommer's "Napa and Sonoma day by day Guide" and recently was the official helicopter service of BottleRock Napa Valley, a festival that featured some of the biggest names in the music world. A featured tour called Romance, the Wch Way! includes a tour of San Francisco's many landmarks like the Embarcadero, the Ferry Building, Pier 39 and the Golden Gate Bridge before landing on an island to enjoy a private gourmet picnic with wines selected by Wine Country Helicopters' Sommelier, then a visit to a local winery, a massage and overnight accommodations at the luxurious Kenwood Inn and Spa.

Related: One-Tank Trip to Mendocino

Head to CBS San Francisco's Best Of page for more local tips on family fun, shopping, nightlife, food, culture and more!

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

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