Hot Air Balloon Ride
by Dave

Hot air balloon at sunset
Close your eyes and imagine soaring through the air, sipping champagne, and holding your date close as the sun sets in the distance. This doesn't have to be a dream, you can find it all on a balloon ride! Hot air balloon flights are a romantic way to spend time experiencing something different together and seeing the surrounding area from a completely new perspective. They come in two flavors; the popular sunset balloon flight and the less known, but equally fun, sunrise flight. For raw romantic appeal, I'd say choose the sunset flight, but if you’re morning people and just want to have a good time, the sunrise flight is also a lot of fun.

The trip starts with passengers meeting at a specified location, which is probably not the launch point, and the company driving them out to the balloon. The balloon may or not be ready to go when you arrive, if not it's interesting to watch them inflate and we were even able to walk inside and take a few pictures on my flight. They're huge! Finding space inside the baskets isn't a free-for-all like you may imagine. They’re generally divided up into different padded compartments (4-8) where you and your date can snuggle up without bumping into the other passengers. When the balloon starts rising everyone will climb into their compartments and you're off!

Sunset flights generally take you into the air a fair amount of time before the sun disappears so that you can relax with your date and enjoy the entire experience while talking and drinking champagne. Sunrise flights, on the other hand, take off closer to the event and spend more time rising and descending to give passengers a view of local landmarks and scenery. While the wind takes you along, a chase car will be following your expedition and may drive ahead to take photos as you skim by. The entire trip lasts an hour to an hour and a half, and companies generally offer drinks, and possibly snacks like cheese, crackers, pastries, or other food while aloft.

At the proper time, your pilot will find an empty field to set down and the passengers will be able to snap off a few more shots with the balloon before being driven back to their vehicles. From beginning to end the entire experience should take 2-3 hours. Make reservations at a nearby restaurant so you can talk about the trip over breakfast or dinner afterward. If you're unfamiliar with the area, ask the balloon company for recommendations.

Video of a couple taking off on their hot air balloon date.

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