Note: Some companies on this list may have limited operations due to COVID-19. Check with operators about availability before you book.
After you’ve sampled its renowned wines, take to the skies to view Napa Valley from above. Hot air balloons are a novel way to tour the area and could possibly be the highlight of your journey. With the help of expert input and traveler sentiment, U.S. News found the best hot air balloon excursions available.
Before you book a ride, keep in mind that you’re in for an early morning. Balloon tours typically meet just before sunrise (usually between 5:30 and 7 a.m.), when the air is cool and winds are calm – perfect conditions for flying. Kids are typically welcome on a flight, but each company has its own height and age requirements. For safety reasons, hot air balloon rides are not recommended for pregnant women.
Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. – Classic Balloon Ride
Soar above Napa’s vineyards and enjoy expert commentary from your pilot with Napa Valley Balloons. The Classic Balloon Ride picks you up at your local hotel and transports you to the launch site. You’ll then board and float through the skies for about 45 minutes. As you tour, your pilot will point out top sights while you snap photos. After you land, the company will transport you back to your hotel. Travelers say the ride is incredible and praise the pilot’s patience when answering questions. They also say it is an ideal activity for couples. Trips cost about $275 per person, which includes round-trip hotel transport. Trips leave early in the morning, just after sunrise, so the exact time of departure varies by time of year.
Additionally, Napa Valley Balloons partners with a variety of local vendors to offer combination experiences. For example, it partners with Napa Valley Bike Tours to offer a hot air balloon ride followed by a two-wheeled adventure to some of the best Napa wineries. It also works with Platypus Wine Tours to combine a typical wine shuttle tour with a balloon flight. (Not to worry, both Napa Valley Bike Tours and Platypus Wine Tours win praise from tour-takers.) Furthermore, you can book a hotel package that includes a hot air balloon flight and a night’s stay at either the Hilton Garden Inn Napa or the Candlelight Inn Napa Valley.
Napa Valley Aloft – Adventure Aloft Hot Air Balloon Ride
Enjoy sweeping vistas of Napa’s vineyards on this flight, which lasts at least 40 minutes. You’ll launch from either Yountville, Pope Valley or Paradisa; exact location depends on the weather. Enhance your experience by paying extra for the post-flight breakfast, which includes sparkling wine. Tour-takers say the ride is a “must-do” activity when visiting Napa and say the early departure is worth it. Trips depart daily. Tickets start at $250 for adults and $195 for children. Napa Valley Aloft also offers private tours.
Balloons Above the Valley – Balloon Ride Premium Package
Travelers regularly praise Balloons Above the Valley, saying the experience is incredible and it’s the perfect introduction to riding in a hot air balloon. The approximately four-hour tour includes a one-hour flight, as well as a post-flight brunch (complete with sparkling wine). Heed the advice of reviewers and charge your phones and cameras before your flight to take advantage of all the amazing photo opportunities. Tickets start at $599 for two passengers and round-trip transportation from your hotel is included. Tours leave daily, but exact times will vary by time of the year.