If you’ve read my Things To Do in Temecula post, then you know that I surprised Daniel with a trip to Temecula for his birthday. Specifically to attend the Balloon and Wine Festival, but also to give him a gift of a lifetime – a hot air balloon ride through Temecula wine country!
You may remember me mentioning that there are hot air balloon rides in Temecula, coordinated through the Balloon and Wine Festival, but that I decided to spoil my guy and take him on a private balloon ride for two! Out of all the balloon companies in Temecula, A Grape Escape had the best reviews and the least expensive private rides. A private ride will cost around $599-799 per couple. For a more inexpensive option, you can choose rides where you’ll be in a basket with other people, which are around $126-156 per person. If you take a flight coordinated through the Ballon and Wine Festival it will cost about $200 per person, and includes same day admission to the festival.
Whether you’re taking a private ride or a group ride, if it’s a special occasion, be sure to let them know. They will have a banner for the occasion draped over your basket to make your experience even more special! Daniel was happily surprised when he saw his birthday banner!
When you’re taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise, be prepared to get there bright and early! On the morning of, we were wishing we had thought more about that while we were having a little too much fun at the Balloon and Wine Festival. They will give you an estimated call time when the date is getting closer, and then your actual call time a day or two before.
You’ll want to dress in layers, as it will be cold in the morning and very hot once the sun comes up. When you’re in the air, it will also be hot because of the flame above your head, which is why I’d also recommend wearing a hat of some kind. I’d also highly suggest wearing sunglasses, as the sun is pretty brutal. Oh, and don’t forget your cameras! You will not want to miss the opportunity to take a million photos!
In the morning, you’ll meet up with everyone else that’s taking a hot air balloon ride that morning. There may be other balloon companies there as well, so make sure you know which one you should be looking for. One note about that: apparently a lot of the companies in the area work together on flights. If for some reason the company you booked with had a change in schedule or over booked, they may pass you off to another company. This actually happened to us, and since I’m the type of customer that likes everything upfront before I pay, I was a little irked when I found out. In the end every thing worked out just fine, and the company we flew with was great. But since I would have personally liked knowing prior to booking, I thought I’d give you all a heads up!
Once everyone is checked in, you’re then shuttled to the actual takeoff area. If I’m remembering correctly, I believe it was about a 30-45 minute drive – you can try to grab a little more shut eye on the way!
After arriving it’s another 30-45 minute wait while they fill the balloons with air. This is a great photo opportunity as well. It’s pretty incredible to see the balloons so up close! Some balloons are already in the air too, which is also an amazing sight to see. Take a look at some of our pre-flight photos!
After enough air has been pumped into the massive balloon you’re ready for takeoff, it’s a bit of a mad dash to get into the basket while they hold it down (so it doesn’t float away before you’re in it!). Tip: Don’t wear a skirt! Unless you want to flash everyone while you’re haphazardly trying to get into the basket.
Taking a hot air balloon ride was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. My favorite moment was taking off, it felt exactly how you’d think floating away in a balloon would feel like. It’s a feeling you really can’t describe properly and simply must experience yourself. And that was just the takeoff! When you’re actually in the air it is completely breathtaking and exhilarating. Being able to see the balloons on the ground still being filled with air, other balloons taking off, the view of wine country, and the other hot air balloons in the air… It was incredible!
Here are some of my favorite pictures.
I can’t remember exactly how long we were in the air for, but it may have been as much as 60-90 minutes. When it’s time to come down, I have a few words of advice: hold on tight. Like, really really tight. Landing a hot air balloon isn’t exact science, and wind is a huge factor. Be prepared that it may be very bumpy, and you may end up in a bush. I thought I was holding on tight, but when we crashed (I mean, landed) I almost flew out of the basket. Luckily, my boyfriend caught me just in time!
After your adventurous landing, you’ll have the chance to see them pack up the balloon. Then you’ll be shuttled to a picnic area for a complimentary breakfast (champagne included!). Don’t expect anything too fancy, it’s basically just plastic wrapped snack cakes, but it was still a really nice and appreciated touch to end an overall amazing experience.
Taking a hot air balloon ride in Temecula was a once in a lifetime experience (although, I hope I get to do it again soon!), and I was so happy I could give and share the experience with Daniel.
If you ever have the opportunity take a hot air balloon ride, TAKE IT TAKE IT TAKE IT! It will be the most amazing adventure that you will never forget!