San Diego Hot Air Balloon Flights

If you’re fortunate enough to spend any amount of time in Southern California’s desert communities, sooner or later, you may spot gently floating hot air balloons drifting by in a mesmerizing and colorful display.

Most people only see them from a distance.  But when you book your own hot air balloon experience in Temecula, you’ll get up close and personal to witness a majestic display unlike any other.  

Balloons inflate from flat to seven stories tall in short order, and before long, you’re ready for an airborne adventure as you set a course across the skies.  You’ll sail over gently rolling hills, miles of vineyards and orchards, ranches, luxury homes, lakes, wildlife, and more.  Clear days may also offer views of the Pacific Ocean and local islands.

Your adventure will start with a drive about 60 miles north of San Diego to Temecula, deep in the heart of Southern California’s wine country.   

Because many flights take place at dawn, Temecula is a popular destination for overnight visits the night before.  A wide range of lodging options will allow you time to enjoy local cuisine and explore the historic downtown.  

One of the most popular options for visitors is to combine a hot air balloon experience with a visit to one or more local vineyards.  Helicopter tours are an in-demand add-on as well.

You’ll also enjoy the short and hassle-free commute to your operator’s takeoff zone when it’s time to fly.

Most flights take off daily at sunrise when conditions are optimal.  Basic flights last anywhere from 60-90 minutes, but you should allow about three hours for the entire experience, including pre-flight check-in, transportation from the landing zones, and champagne and mimosa celebrations afterward.

While most people choose an introductory shared-basket flight, operators also offer several luxury options. Some also partner with local tourist attractions and dining establishments so that you can enjoy a full experience visit to Temecula.

Many people float across Temecula to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, ash scatterings, and engagements.  

Some people also get married while flying for a truly unique and memorable wedding day.  Many pilots are ordained officiants and can perform weddings in flight.  

Operators are happy to customize any experience to meet your needs.

Another thing you may have wondered about is how hot pilots steer the balloons since they don't have steering wheels.  Pilots use the wind direction and speed at different heights to steer the balloon. They control the balloon's ascent and descent but can't steer the balloon in another direction without changing altitude.


Temecula is approximately 60 miles north of San Diego, and about 25 miles inland as the crow flies from San Clemente in southern Orange County.


It varies from operator to operator, but if you catch a special discount, you can book a basic shared basket flight with up to eight other passengers for as little as $125-$150 per person.  

Depending on how luxurious you want to go, your flight can easily cost more than $1,000 on the high end for private flights, added amenities, and special occasions.


Safety is always the #1 priority.  Hot air balloon operators are licensed and insured.  Pilots are FAA certified and have generally been flying for years.  As you might expect, they’re also talented tour guides and can answer most anything about landmarks, the region’s history, and what you’re flying over.

Operators pay close attention to the weather, especially the winds. If there’s any doubt about whether conditions are flight suitable, they’ll do their best to accommodate you with alternate days or times.  It’s best to pay attention to weather conditions or check with your operator the day before or the day of your flight, especially if you’re driving from San Diego.


Guests of all ages are welcome.  Operators generally only require that all passengers meet a minimum 48-inch height requirement.

What to Wear

Temecula is typically warm and arid, so your best bet is to dress comfortably.  You might want to bring a light wrap, hoodie, or a jacket just in case since you’re flying before the sun has a chance to warm the day.

Due to the heat generated from the propane tanks, also consider bringing a hat to protect your head from the warmth generated by the blowers.


Many balloons have doors for a walk-on-walk-off experience. Despite what you may have seen in the movies, most of the time, there’s no climbing over a 4-foot wall to get in or out of the basket.

Hot air balloons are sensitive to weight, and because of this, powered wheelchairs are not permitted on board.  A manual wheelchair is required for any disabled person looking to take flight.


To be clear, use the facilities before you fly because hot air balloons have no facilities on board.