Have you ever dreamed of taking to the sky to soar over the landscape in a hot air balloon? Or maybe you just love admiring the beauty of colorful hot air balloons against a bright blue sky. Either way, hot air balloons are majestic and exciting. Here in California, there are a number of destinations where you can take a private hot air balloon ride. Here are some of the best hot air balloon rides in California.
California Hot Air Balloon Rides
California has some amazing destinations for hot air ballooning. While the Temecula wine country is the most popular destination, we’ve rounded up a big list of many spots around the state where you can take to the blue yonder in a colorful balloon.
Popular Hot Air Balloon Destinations In California
Temecula and Napa Valley are the two biggest hot air balloon hot spots. Both are also well know wine country destinations. There are a number of companies in both locations offering hot air balloon rides. Most hot air balloon rides are an hour to an hour and a half long, and many are at sunrise. Many companies offer packages or experiences that may include wine or champagne toasts and discounts to nearby wineries for wine tasting.
Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs and the Central Coast all have a few destinations for hot air balloon rides that are worth exploring as well. Here is a list of some of the companies offering hot air balloon rides in these destinations.
Most flights depart in the early morning hours – often 5:30 or 6:30 AM. You can explore these companies to find shared or private balloon flights.
Temecula & SoCal
- A Grape Escape Balloon Adventure: 41150 Via Europa, Temecula, CA 92591 | 951-699-9987
- California Dreamin’ Balloon Adventures: 33133 Vista Del Monte Rd, Temecula, CA 92591 | 951-699-0601
- Cielo Balloons Temecula: 39730 Calle Contento, Temecula, CA 92591 | 951-541-6638
- Compass Balloons: 34225 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92592 | 760-704-7407
- Magical Adventure Balloon Rides: 31963 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92592 | 866-365-6987
- SkyRider Tours: 34225 Rancho California Rd Suite # 1, Temecula, CA 92591 | 951-795-9821
- Sunrise Balloons: 34220 Rancho California Rd, Temecula, CA 92591 | 800-548-9912
- Uncorked Tours: 39820 Calle Contento, Temecula, CA 92592 | 888-400-7641
- Sky’s The Limit Ballooning Adventures: 3251 Camino De Los Coches, Carlsbad, CA 92009 | 760-602-0295
- Skyline Balloons: Block A, 3150 Case Rd, Perris, CA 92570 | 951-514-1553
Palm Springs Area
- Balloons Above: 80223 CA-111, Indio, CA 92201 | 760-347-0410
- Fantasy Balloon Flights: 74901 CA-111, Indian Wells, CA 92210 | 760-568-0997
Napa Valley, Sonoma, & Sacramento Area
- Balloons Above The Valley: 603 California Blvd, Napa, CA 94559 | 707-253-2222
- Napa Valley Balloons Inc.: 4086 Byway E, Napa, CA 94558 | 707-944-0228
- Napa Valley Drifters: 3385 Solano Avenue, Napa, CA 94558 | 707-252-7210
- Napa Valley Aloft Hot Air Balloon Rides: 6525 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599 | 707-944-4400
- Up & Away Ballooning: 367 Windsor River Rd, Windsor, CA 95492 | 707-836-0171
- Sonoma Ballooning: 21870 8th St E, Sonoma, CA 95476 | 707-819-9223
- Wine Country Balloons: 397 Aviation Blvd, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 | 707-538-7359
- Yolo Ballooning Adventures: 800 Business Park Dr i, Dixon, CA 95620 | 530-662-8867
- Lake Tahoe Balloons: 2435 Venice Dr E, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 | 530-544-1221
- Sky Drifters Hot Air Ballooning: 7000 Stonehouse Rd, Rancho Murieta, CA 95683 | 916-244-4808
- Balloons Over Paso: Paso Robles, CA | 805-222-6176
- Sky’s The Limit Ballooning: 2432 Railway Ave, Los Olivos, CA 93441 | 760-602-0295
What To Expect On A Hot Air Balloon Ride
- Wear comfortable clothes with layers to stay warm. It can get cold up there! You’ll want to wear clothes that you can comfortably climb in and out of the balloon basket, and closed toed shoes or sneakers are recommended. A hat and sunglasses are also recommended. Long pants are often required.
- Use the restroom before you board! There’s nowhere to go up there!
- There will usually be a pilot and crew members or the hot air balloon ride, and you may even be asked to help out in the ride preparation and inflation of the balloon.
- After the balloon is inflated, they’ll light the burner to bring the balloon to boarding position.
- Once in the air, your speed and altitude will change with the speed and direction of the wind.
- It is usually very quiet when you are up in the hot air balloon.
- You may get the opportunity to skim the trees or do a splash and dash (when the gondola dips into a lake or body of water).
- Hot air balloon landings will be in open spaces like a field. Impact is often determined by the wind speed. In calm winds, you will likely get a soft landing with the gondola remaining upright. In windier conditions the gondola may tip or land sideways.
- Gratuity is appreciated unless otherwise stated by the company. It is normal to tip your pilot and crew.
- Remember that you will be standing for at least one hour. If you have back or leg conditions or injuries, this may not be your best choice of activity.
- Most companies will not allow you to ride if: you are pregnant, are on oxygen, if you have a cast on, you have recently had surgery.
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Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.