If you've never tried it, hot air ballooning sounds like a dreamy fantasy — and IRL, it doesn't disappoint. The ride is quieter and more peaceful than any other style of flight you've experienced, and it's an item you absolutely need on your bucket list. Find your just-right ballooning experience in your region of the country, and soar above America on a ride you'll never forget. Here's where to go:
1. New England
This is a particularly good ride during the height of fall foliage, when warm-toned views seem plucked from a dream (or a travel guide book). You’ll have a lovely time with the aerial tours available in the region any time of the year, but if you’re considering planning it for autumn, be sure to reserve your spot ahead of time. The rolling and colorful hills that hug the landscape will add an element of romance to this outing and you'll probably find the crisp air invigorating. Try flying with High 5 Ballooning, which offers rides in Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire.
2. New Mexico
New Mexico is probably the most famous place in the U.S.A. for hot air ballooning, thanks to the famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Held each year in October, this mega gathering of balloons brings people together in the colorful desertscape from all over the globe. Check out Rainbow Ryders Albuquerque.
3. Napa Valley
Napa Valley is a destination that appeals to multiple senses — and not just the wine-craving tastebuds. The beauty of this world-famous wine country can be observed well from above. Napa Valley Aloft offers rides that take off just after dawn for a memorable start to the day. You might catch a glimpse of the San Francisco skyline as well as Mount St. Helena and the expanse of the region’s valleys and ranges.
4. Lake Superior
Though the weather can be cold to a harrowing (subzero) degree, the warm summer months on Lake Superior are paradise. Hop in a hot air balloon to take in the expanse of the North Woods and the largest Great Lake at once. Choose either a sunset or a sunrise ballooning outing with a company like Minnesota Ballooning and enjoy serene views of this special glacier-formed land.
Everyone knows Colorado is a looker of a state, but seeing just how beautiful it is from above is an experience like no other. One option is to get to Boulder County and let a company like Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon Flights take you up, up, and away. Your flight comes with breakfast and champagne, and the Rocky Mountain sights are unbelievable.
6. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is one of America's most stunning natural landscapes. Think remarkable Alpine views of the Sierras as well as the spectacular lake itself paired with snowcapped mountains and the Nevada desert to the east; there are few other spots where you can take in this much eye-popping scenery at once. Do it with a hot air balloon company like Lake Tahoe Balloons and head home with memories (and photos) you’ll forever cherish.
7. Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains offer those traveling through the southeastern U.S.A. a glimpse of an old range — one so old that all that remains are its colorful rolling hills. The Smokies are truly a sight to behold and one of the finest ways to do just that is through a hot air balloon. Take off from Asheville with a company like Balloons over Asheville or Asheville Hot Air Balloons and savor the relaxed mountain sights.
8. Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is stunning from any angle — whether from a hike into its depths or camping on its plateau. But seeing it from above provides perhaps the most drama of all. Because of various factors, including weather conditions, these tours are normally chartered privately — and they'll cost you. But if you have thousands to spare and are interested in a once-in-a-lifetime ride, reach out to a company like Apex Balloons to discuss options.
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