This was a long time in the works. Thanks to multiple cancellations due to our schedules and weather conditions, what was essentially my birthday gift from the husband ended up being an experience four months later closer to his birthday! The hot air balloon rides we opted for were available in Perris, California through a company called Adventure Balloon Rides. At $129 per person, we thought it was a decent birthday celebration for both of us to enjoy that didn't interfere too much with our work schedules. Since this was an early morning sunrise ride, we needed to be on location 6am. Perris is 2 hours away from Los Angeles so we drove in the previous evening and spent the night in an AirBnB property in the area. Folks at the home were great, we found a pretty nice Mexican place to grab dinner and we slept early so we don’t miss the alarm to wake up first thing!
Early morning, we checked to ensure our ride was moving forward as scheduled. Once on location, we had our weight checked to ensure all balloons were equally weighted. This location had morning coffee and pastries available. Only portable potties though available at that time. We were then divided into groups and driven by van to the spot where the balloons were ready for take off. Our pilot was introduced and once the balloon had risen almost fully, we were asked to board.
This balloon had these stepping gaps in the body that we could use to climb in and get into the base. I don’t know why I imagined there would be a door/gate they would open to just walk in. Maybe there are other bigger balloons that way. This one had the pilot in the center with all his gear and four compartments around him where three riders could be accommodated in each. They packed it in pretty tight.
And then we were off! Amazing how smooth the take off and landing are in a balloon. I guess it also depends on the weather where you are. This was a clear sunny day in Perris so no major winds and such. The pilot explained how it works and pointed out to a few landmarks in the vicinity. It was primarily agricultural land and we could see lakes and mountains in the distance. The total duration for the ride was about 30-40 minutes and I think we went up a few 1,000 feet but not as high as I expected we would.
We were advised to bring layers, which we definitely did need in the early morning hours but not so much once the sun was up and we were high in the sky as well. The sound of the balloon being fired up every few minutes can be a tad bit disconcerting but the pilot warns you ahead to expect that. And when it was time to land we were told to not lock our knees so our backs don’t get the full impact of hitting the ground. Interestingly, that was simply a smooth thud on the surface and not as unsettling as I expected.
There was a van to drive us back to location where we had a bit of fun – this balloon ride service does a little ‘successfully back in one piece’ ceremony! They gave us printed certificates, mimosas and coupons for breakfast at a restaurant that is on the same property – its called the Bomb Shelter and as one of the staff mentioned – probably the only time you can say Bomb and get away with it! This was located close to the Perris airport and also where the skydiving activities take place so it was fun to watch those folks get their gear on while we chomped down our grub. The food was great and they do have toilets with real world plumbing.
Overall, a great experience and happy to strike it off the bucket list. Could have chosen to do it in a place where the views are better but this was available nearby so we took the opportunity when it presented itself. It was nice to feel suspended in mid air but with a sturdy base below my feet! I wish it wasn’t as packed but I am glad to know for myself that I can survive a balloon ride.
I don’t expect your experience to be the same as mine wherever you find the opportunity for a hot air balloon ride but here’s what’s to keep in mind heading out: