Exploring AZ: Hot Air Balloon Ride

Earlier this week I shared the ‘Year of Dates’ gift that I gave Adam for his birthday. We went on our first date over the weekend (on his actual birthday) and it was a great way to celebrate his special day and kick off our year of dates. If you read the title of the post or scrolled down a bit, you already know that we went for a hot air balloon ride! I’ll admit that I was a little nervous at first, but it was such a smooth ride and such a fun experience!

Originally I was going to book our balloon ride with one of the companies on Groupon, but after a lot of research I decided to book with Float Balloon Tours (I think I found them from this article about the 10 Best Guided Tours in Arizona). Anyway, after reading all of the overwhelmingly positive reviews online I couldn’t not book with them. They offer a sunrise and a sunset tour (sunset available November – March only) and I picked the sunset tour after realizing how early we’d have to wake up to meet them. It’s $20 more, but definitely worth it for the extra sleep.

We met our group (8 of us plus the pilot) at their warehouse and took a van to the launch site. From what I gathered, they change up their launch site depending on the weather conditions, but that day we launched in the same area as another company. It was fun to watch the other balloons inflate and take off while we waited. 

Once the balloon was mostly inflated and ready to go, they had us get in the basket…but not like you’d think. Our pilot said because of the wind it would be easier to get the balloon upright if there was some weight in the basket. So we all had to get in while it was still on its side. There was a little bench at the bottom, so it was quite as awkward as it looks.

Once the balloon and basket were up, we were ready to fly. The ride is so unbelievably smooth I didn’t even realize how far up we were until I looked down. Our pilot told us our speed a few times and I was always shocked to hear that we were going 10+ mph. I really didn’t feel like we were moving that fast and it was really stable. Even with people moving around a bit, the basket didn’t rock or move like I figured it would.

Of course the view is incredible from up there. We took off in North Phoenix (Deer Valley area), so we had great views of the desert, mountains, and Lake Pleasant. 

The sun set towards the end of our ride, so we saw it from the balloon and from the dessert once we landed. I swear Arizona sunsets are some of the best in the world. Oh, and we completely nailed the landing, which I was definitely grateful for.

Once we were back on the ground, the crew set up dinner right at the landing site. While they cooked and set up the table, we had time to take pictures and enjoy the last of the sunset.

Dinner was family-style under string lights with real plates and silverware (no boxed meals or sandwiches for us). We started with some fruit and a champagne cocktail to toast a safe, successful flight. For dinner we had carne asada with fajita veggies, tortillas, and salsa. At dessert they served brownies and even put a candle on Adam’s for his birthday. 

After dinner, everything was packed up and we headed back to the warehouse. During our whole hot air balloon experience they had a professional photographer out taking pictures. A thumb drive with all the pictures was available for sale after the flight for an additional charge. I bought it because I’m sucker. Actually I bought it because my New Year’s resolution is going to be to take more pictures and I figured I’d get an early start on my goal. I also bought a hot air balloon ornament for our tree. With tip, everything ended up costing me $525, which is not cheap, but it was a birthday present, party, dinner, and bucket list experience all rolled into one, so I’m ok with it. 

Overall we had such an amazing time and it was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. I would love to go on another hot air balloon ride, but it would have to be some place new to justify the cost again. There was a couple from Atlanta flying with us and I thought it was such a great idea to go on a hot air balloon ride on vacation, so maybe we’ll do that someday. 

I would definitely recommend Float Balloon Tours if you’re in the Phoenix area, but I would caution about setting your expectations too high based on the amazing reviews. That’s not to say that we didn’t have an amazing time, but I think a few of the reviews are a little over the top. For example, someone said it was the best carne asada they’ve ever had. Let’s be honest, it was good, but not the best ever…and it doesn’t need to be! The excitement is from the balloon ride and then eating dinner in the desert under the stars! Of course that person on TripAdvisor is from South Dakota, so they probably haven’t ate that much carne asada…ok, now I’m just being jerk.

Anyway, it was a wonderful experience and everyone was really nice (we really liked the new guy), plus it’s a small business and I love supporting those…so long story short, go on a hot air balloon ride! 


  1. I've never been on a balloon ride before but this looks so beautiful and like so much fun!

  2. How fun!!!! Going on a hot air balloon ride is on my bucket list!

  3. This looks like an incredible experience. This is on my bucket list for sure!

    1. Incredible is the perfect way to describe it! Hopefully you get to go soon!

  4. These are such beautiful pictures. I am scheduling to share with my friends on the RWC platform (Raising World Children) What a wonderful experience.

  5. What a great idea! I'm sure he loved it! We often see hot air balloons near our house during the summer. Like you I'm a bit nervous to try. So glad to hear that it was a smooth ride!

    1. That would be so fun to see hot air balloons near your house! You should definitely try it. The ride was so smooth you can hardly tell you're moving! The basket doesn't sway or anything scary like that.


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