9 Best Places for a Hot Air Balloon Ride in North Carolina 

Since the development of flight, people have taken to the skies. At first, it was an easy way to get to a faraway place quickly. Soon, it took on a more leisurely purpose. While it’s safe to say that most people have flown in a plane or helicopter, not many have had the opportunity to do that with views that are not hampered by the aircraft and the sound of engines. Many may not think of North Carolina as a great hot air balloon destination, but there are plenty of great places to take a hot air balloon ride in North Carolina.

Just imagine soaring high above a scenic landscape and seeing North Carolina lakes, rivers, forests and sprawling countryside like you’ve never seen before. There are a few ways you can do this but the safest and most fun way is with a hot air balloon flight.

Hot air ballooning first started to become popular in the 1960s and today, many places around the world are known for being hotspots for this exciting sport.  In North Carolina, there are a number of companies offering these flights. 

When you embark on a hot air ballooning adventure with any of these companies, you’ll be flying with the best of the best who have your safety and enjoyment in mind. During one of these flights, you’ll glide through the sky in the direction of the wind and see spectacular aerial views like you’ve never seen before!


The Best Places for hot air balloon rides in north carolina


Asheville

hot air balloon rides north carolina
Credit: Asheville Balloon Company

Asheville, a city in the western part of North Carolina, is a top vacation destination known for its history and attractions. But did you know the city and surrounding area are also known for being a hot air ballooning spot? That’s right! You can soar high above this historic city in a huge balloon, and it’s one of the best things to do in Asheville!

The best part of this type of adventure is there won’t be any sounds of loud engines.  You’ll gently float through the sky while the calm wind guides the balloon in whichever direction it happens to be flowing. 

Asheville Balloon Company has been offering these tours for more than 15 years and they’re the leading company for this service in the region. You’ll fly with professional pilots who ensure that safety is a priority and a ride with this company usually lasts about an hour. 

Once in the air, you’ll fly high over the beautiful landscape and enjoy incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Biltmore Lake. All along, you’ll be moving, but it won’t feel like it.  Just sit back and enjoy this relaxing ride because embarking on an adventure like this is not something that happens every day! 

There are various flights available but generally, if you wish to fly with only one other person, it will cost you around $400 and if you share a flight with some strangers, it will cost significantly less at around $300. The minimum number of passengers is two and the maximum number of passengers is six in one gondola.


You can take a hot air balloon in Asheville seven days per week, weather permitting. Hot air balloons here can only fly at sunrise as the afternoon winds tend to be strong. Flights last one hour with champagne and hors d’oeuvres, and the entire process takes about 2.5 – 3 hours.


Raleigh

One of the best places to go on a hot air balloon ride in North Carolina

A major urban area doesn’t sound like an ideal place from which to launch a hot air balloon. But Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, is another one of the Best Places to go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride in NC.  It’s truly one of the best things to do in Raleigh!

This is because a trip from Raleigh in a hot air balloon doesn’t mean you’ll be floating only over a loud, bustling city; the wind will carry you out over the sprawling countryside where you’ll escape the sights and sounds of the city for a little while. 

Above & Beyond Hot Air Balloon is the company to head to in the city to embark on a one-of-kind adventure. You’ll depart within the first two hours of sunrise or two hours before sunset. This is when the winds are most stable and therefore the safest and most relaxing time to fly in a hot air balloon. 

The company has been in business for over a decade so you can rest assured that your crew is well-versed in technique and safety. While onboard, the knowledgeable and friendly crew will answer any questions you have and they’ll also inform you about the mechanics of the balloon and its related equipment and provide the history of the area you’re flying over.  

Balloon Rides with Above & Beyond cost between $260 and $360 depending on which package you choose. 

Do you have plans to be around Raleigh in the early fall? This is when The Raleigh Balloon Glow takes place. If you’re in the area during this time, head down to Dorothea Dix Park and enjoy food stalls, craft vendors, children’s activities, balloon rides and other balloon-related fun!


Troutman

hot air balloon rides north carolina
Credit: Airtime Balloon Company

Troutman is a small NC town in Iredell County and this town’s rural location makes it an ideal place to go hot air ballooning. The company to look up when in town is Airtime Balloon Company, which has been in the business of flying hot air balloons for more than ten years. 

Take to the skies with this professional team who will ensure you are safe and secure and that you have the time of your life during your flight. Flights are offered all year round and you can choose to depart at either dawn or late afternoon. Either departure time has its benefits. The morning is when the earth is most still. The afternoon is best for aerial photography. Both provide spectacular views of the land below. 

Lakes, forests and cars moving along the roads below are some of the sights you’ll see from above. You’ll be in the air for approximately an hour and once you’re back on the ground, you’ll enjoy a champagne toast to commemorate your journey. You’ll also receive a certificate as proof that you faced your fears and embarked on this incredible adventure up into the clouds. 

If you fly with two or three other people, you’ll each pay $250.  However, if you fly alone, you’ll pay $300 so if you’re looking to save some money, it’s best to get a few friends to join you. 

Airtime currently only offers balloon rides on Saturday, Sunday, and special holidays.


Cleveland

hot air balloon rides north carolina
credit: Big Oh! Balloons

Cleveland is another area of North Carolina that’s surrounded by countryside and rural landscapes. That means it’s another popular hot air ballooning location. Big Oh! Balloons has been around for over ten years and is ready to help you set out on one of the biggest adventures of your life! 

Whether you want to see the fall colors from above or add your flight to a summer holiday, it doesn’t matter because the company flies every day, all year round. As per the norm anywhere in North Carolina, you’ll fly when the winds are most stable, which is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. 

Every flight is different because you don’t really know where and how far the gentle breeze will take you. One thing that is known before every flight is that you’ll be in the air for about an hour and during that time, you’ll see the Brushy Mountains, Pilot Mountain, the city of Charlotte and Winston-Salem. 

You’ll reach heights of a few thousand feet but at lower altitudes, it’s so quiet up there that you might even hear a creek flowing beneath you. Look closely and you might spot some deer running in a clearing. Another fun thing about flying with Big Oh! Balloons, is that you can be part of the setup and tear-down process so you can learn what goes into one of these amazing flights. 

Balloon flights are at sunrise or two hours before sunset. They fly from Cool Spring BalloonPort just east of Statesville, NC, about three miles south of I-40. There is a minimum of two passengers per balloon but Big Oh trys to keep tours pretty private.  Tours fly from tree-tops to about 1,500 feet, depending on the winds. 


Statesville 

hot air balloon rides north carolina
Credit: Almost Heaven Hot Air Balloon Rides

Statesville, also known as the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the East, has been known as a ballooning center in North Carolina since the 1960s and, to this day, it’s still one of the more popular destinations to embark on this type of adventure. So if you are in the state, know that this is where to take a fun hot air balloon ride in North Carolina.

Almost Heaven Hot Air Balloon Rides operate all year round and offer flights that typically last about an hour. It’s recommended to put three hours aside for your tour so you can watch or take part in the setup and tear down of the whole operation which is also part of the fun! 

Choose to fly at either sunrise or two hours before sunset when the winds are just right. As you soar up to 2000 feet above the landscape, you’ll see Pilot Mountain, Charlotte and Winston Salem. Single passengers pay $500 per flight but if you travel with a group of two or more, you’ll pay $325 per person. Prices include the champagne toast all passengers enjoy after the flight. 

AeroSport Balloons offers spectacular views of the Central North Carolina Landscape during one-hour flights at the start and end of each day. See the skylines of nearby cities, mountains and lakes from 3,000 feet high. 

Air-Olina Aviation offers a variety of flights including private flights, champagne flights and adventure flights. Private and champagne flights fly over the vast landscape of Iredell County and last between 45 and 90 minutes at a cost of $325 per person. The cost of adventure flights varies depending on the adventure you wish to have but one thing that’s universal is the fantastic memories you’ll make! 


Burlington

hot-air-balloons-in-nc

The city of Burlington, which is in the counties of Alamance and Guilford, is home to Paisley Balloon Aviation. This company has been in the business of getting people into the air on hot air balloons for over a decade. On one of their flights, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of central North Carolina. 

Start with a briefing and preparation for the flight and end with a mini celebration. Flights take place at the best times of the day, sunrise and sunset, so you’ll be able to get the most spectacular photos. Champagne flights start at $500 per person and private flights start at $750.  


Mebane

hot air balloon rides north carolina
Credit: Piedmont Hot Air

Situated in Alamance and Orange Counties, Mebane is a small community surrounded by rural landscapes. Hot air ballooning is a fairly new thing in the town but Piedmont Hot Air has expert team members who are professionals when it comes to both flying and safety procedures. 

Whether you prefer to take to the skies as the sun is coming up or right before it starts going down, you’re sure to have an experience you’ll never forget! As you float through the sky, you’ll see the picturesque Piedmont region with its rolling hills, farms and lakes. They charge $270 per person or $650 for an exclusive, romantic couple’s flight.

There is a minimum of 2 passengers per flight, and a maximum of 4 passengers. The total weight of the passengers can’t exceed 850 lbs. Flights run at sunrise or sunset, March through December weather permitting.


Vass

hot air balloon rides north carolina
Credit: Balloons Over America

Vass might only be a small NC town, but it’s one of North Carolina’s top places to go hot air ballooning. Located in the Sandhills area of Moore County, the town is home to a family-run business with more than two decades of hot air ballooning experience. 

Balloons over America offers a range of packages including Champagne flights and Sweetheart flights. Besides getting you in the sky and getting you there safely, the company’s main goal is to ensure you have the time of your life as you soar over Vass and its surrounding area as the wind gently pushes you along. While 2000 feet below you is the sprawling countryside.  


Carolina Balloon Festival!

hot air balloon rides north carolina

Almost every fall for the last 47 years, Statesville has played host to the Carolina Balloon Fest.  During this popular festival, there are balloon rides, fascinating displays, live music and activities for all ages. This festival is typically during a weekend in October and general admission costs around $25 depending on the day. Children that are age 12 and under receive free admission.



Hopefully this guide to the best hot air balloon rides in North Carolina helped you determine where to go! There really is nothing like flying in a hot air balloon. That weightless feeling, as if you’re floating and the silence except for the sound of the wind is an incredible experience that everyone should experience at least once!

About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and six continents. After, six years of international travel they settled down and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

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