Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, checking an item off your bucket list, or just embracing your inner thrill-seeker, floating in a hot air balloon above Pennsylvania is an ideal way to experience the natural beauty of the commonwealth.
Did you know the first flight humans ever took was by hot air balloon? In 1783, two French brothers perfected an invention that filled a silk bag with hot air, allowing it and an attached basket—for passengers—to float into the sky.
Today, we have more efficient methods to travel by air, but hot air balloon rides still inspire a sense of wonder and curiosity. When these brightly colored balloons meet the clouds, one can’t help but stare at the display—and wish they could take a hot air balloon ride, too.
The good news is that you can take a hot air balloon ride in Pennsylvania. Not only is a hot air balloon ride just plain fun, it’s also an excellent way to view the countryside.
We’ve put together a guide on where and how to take a hot air balloon ride in Pennsylvania. You’ll find most tour operators on the eastern side of the state, but a hot air balloon ride is as good a reason as any to travel. And if you’re afraid of heights, you can still enjoy hot air balloon rides from the ground by witnessing dozens of balloons take to the skies at hot air balloon festivals.
Most hot air balloon rides in Pennsylvania take place in the southeastern corner of the state, particularly over Lancaster County. Lancaster Balloon Rides has been in operation for more than 35 years, and hosts balloon rides for leisure, birthday parties, and even weddings. Prices for one hour in the air start at $275 per person and include a champagne toast to celebrate your flight.
If you’d rather view balloons from the stable earth beneath, make plans to check out the annual Lancaster Hot Air Balloon Festival and Country Fair, which takes place this year from Sept. 14-17. A general admission ticket will get you into the festival so you can admire the mass ascension of the festival’s hot air balloons. If you’d like to take a ride, you can also purchase a traditional flight or even grab a ticket for a tethered flight. On a tethered flight at the festival, you float up about 40 feet above the ground, just for a few minutes, with the balloon tethered to the earth. Think of it as a mini (and less expensive) hot air balloon ride experience.
In the Delaware Valley, Chester County is a lovely place to launch into the sky by balloon. Air Ventures has been offering hot air balloon rides to the adventurous since 1990. Soaring through the air, you’ll be able to see miles of the countryside on your relaxing (yet exhilarating) balloon flight. Air Ventures prices start at $299 per person, including a champagne toast, and they also offer packages that could work as fun gifts, like a romantic dinner for two plus a private hot air balloon ride.
If you’d prefer the festival route, you can visit to the Chester County Hot Air Balloon Festival. Held annually in June, the 2023 festival has passed, so start making summer 2024 plans. You can watch the bevy of balloons lift off together on festival mornings or nights, and you can even make time to take a tethered balloon ride.
Live in the central or western part of the state? You’ll be pleased to learn that you can take hot air balloon rides near State College in Centre County. The Sky’s the Limit Ballooning offers hot air balloon rides year-round at sunrise and sunset (ideal times for most ballooning because of the temperature). You’ll lift off and fly over Happy Valley, getting to see the views of the Appalachian Mountains in the distance. Note that your flight will happen weather permitting—balloons can’t fly in precipitation or if it’s too windy. Prices start at $225 per person and rides include a closing champagne (or apple cider) toast to celebrate the ride.
Lehigh Valley Hot Air is a newer balloon company operating in Coopersburg offering hot air balloon rides over the Lehigh Valley. You’ll enjoy light snacks and a champagne toast on the hot air balloon ride, with prices starting at $275. Like other balloon companies, Lehigh Valley Hot Air offers a number of experiences in addition to the traditional flight, like tailoring rides for kids in school or camp groups.
On the festival front, the Lehigh Valley has been hosting the Spooktacular Hot Air Balloon Festival for four years. In addition to the twice-daily mass ascensions of balloons, the festival also adopts a party atmosphere on Friday and Saturday nights, with a DJ, fireworks, and laser show. This year’s festival runs Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at the Slatington Airport.
You can get a glorious view of NEPA by flying in a hot air balloon and catching a glimpse of the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Endless Mountains Hot Air Balloons can take you on a hot air balloon ride in Lackawanna County, launching just north of Scranton. Enjoy a complimentary champagne toast after your flight, which can take off either around sunrise or sunset. Prices start at $275 per person.
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