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Everything You Need to Know About Taking a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Tampa

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Obviously taking a hot air balloon ride in places like New Mexico and Arizona is pretty popular, but did you know you can take a ride on a hot air balloon in Tampa!? Well, if you read my date ideas for Tampa Bay you did 😉 Honestly, I had no idea myself until I was writing that blog post thinking what would be the perfect date for me as an adventurer.

Of course my mind immediately went to a hot air balloon ride (it was a long-time bucket list item for me). I remembered Tampa had a hot air balloon festival a while back that I was unable to make it to, but didn’t think you could actually do the experience year-round— but you can!

So here’s an answer to all of the questions you might have about enjoying a hot air balloon ride through Tampa and my personal experience with Big Red Balloon!

Two hot air balloons on the ground preparing to take off in Tampa Bay

Where can you ride a hot air balloon in Tampa?

Big Red Balloon will have you meet at one of two Bob Evans restaurants in the Tampa (Temple Terrace) area. The night before your flight, they will inform you which one to meet at.

When do the hot air balloon rides take place in Tampa?

Flights are done daily at sunrise! You meet at the location mentioned above an hour before sunrise. While the flights are done year-round, I recommend waiting until after daylight savings, so dates March-September are probably the most ideal. I say this because the weather is a little nicer, and you don’t have to get up as early!

Related read: Check out my ULTIMATE Tampa guide for the best things to do, restaurants, and places to stay

How long does the hot air balloon ride last?

The flight lasts approximately one hour, however, plan to spend around 4-5 hours on the whole experience between transportation time, witnessing the balloon’s inflation, flight time, the champagne toast, and enjoying your breakfast at Bob Evans.

How much does the hot air balloon ride in Tampa cost and what is the cancellation policy for Big Red Balloon?

There are a few factors that determine price, including age and if you want a shared Adventure Flight or a private Sweetheart Flight, so check here for a current pricing detail as well as their cancellation policy!

What is included in the price for the hot air balloon ride in Tampa at Big Red Balloon?

An approximately one-hour flight, all ground transportation to and from the launching and landing fields, a champagne toast after the flight, as well as a complimentary breakfast after the flight at a local Bob Evans Restaurant.

My experience with Big Red Balloon in Tampa

We arrived in the morning at the Bob Evans we were instructed to and filled out waivers before loading up in the van and heading to the spot we would be taking off from. Dave and the crew began unloading the basket and envelope, and even let us get in on the action and assist with the setup. The whole setup process took maybe twenty minutes, and then we were off! (Well, first we got some pictures of course!)

We did the shared adventure, and while the basket is small, I honestly forgot there was anyone else in there with us. You can definitely make the moment more romantic if you do the sweetheart flight, but I don’t think the views or experience was any less magical having others on board with us.

How it felt

This truly was a remarkable experience. The fact that we did it at sunrise made it even more special. The feeling of rising in the balloon with the sun made the moment harmonious. You feel weightless and at peace. Aside from when Dave (the pilot) would have to ignite the burner, it was truly so peaceful up in the air.

It just made me realize how many sounds we are constantly hearing on the ground that we don’t always realize until there’s just silence as you’re looking down at it all. Do you remember those road map rugs that were always in kiddie play areas? Looking down felt like I was a little kid again playing with one of those mats— it was wild.

What to wear

If you’re wondering what to wear, dress for whatever the weather is when you’re about to head out. I wore a dress and jean jacket, and while I was a little chilly getting ready to fly, once we were in the air I was totally fine. You’ll feel some warmth from the burner. I will say that a dress may not be the best option though, as you have to climb in and out of the basket. Do make sure to wear close-toed shoes with your outfit, as you will be taking off and landing in fields.

Feeling safe

Dave is the owner and one of the pilots at Big Red Balloon and has over 3,000 hours of flight experience! We felt totally safe in his hands and loved how knowledgeable and excited he was about explaining the process and history of ballooning to us. If you have the opportunity to have this experience, I highly recommend it!

Additional information

If you’re curious about safety, why the balloons only fly at sunrise, and other details regarding Big Red Balloon company, check out their FAQ page here!

Check out the video of our experience here! And don’t forget to share this post if you enjoyed it 🙂 Also be sure to check out all of my other Tampa Bay posts including fun birthday ideas in Tampa, and follow me on Instagram @guidedbydestiny for more local content.


  1. Very informative article. I don’t know if I would have the courage to get in a hot air balloon, but the views do look great. I love the fact they leave at sunrise. That is really cool.

    1. I definitely had some nerves too, but it put my mind at ease hearing how many years our pilot had done this for with zero incidents!

    2. This looks awesome. I’ve always wanted to have a ride in a hot air balloon. And the views look great!

      1. They were amazing– hope you get to try it someday <3

  2. Ummi | Ummi Goes Where? says:

    Oh I didn’t realize you could go on a hot air balloon ride in Tampa. Always thought that you’d have to go to places like Cappadocia or the Himalayas for an epic hot air balloon ride but this already looks perfect! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I know right!? So did I! Hope you try it out sometime! Cappadocia is next on my list now haha!

  3. Wow! I had no idea I could do a hot air balloon ride in Tampa! And I love that the rides are at sunrise. Even more magical!

    1. I agree! Definitely made the experience a little more magical 🙂

  4. MagicandBliss says:

    This is so cool! The pictures are so colourful & bright and love how you’ve mentioned each and every detail about taking the ride.

  5. What an amazing experience! I’ve always fancied a go in a hot air balloon but I’ve been too scared to try it! The view does look incredible though! I had no idea you could ride a hot air balloon in Tampa! Thanks for the great guide!

    1. I had nerves myself! But it was definitely worth it facing my fears, I’ve really never experienced anything quite like the feeling I had up there! Hope you try it someday 🙂

  6. Anne Betts says:

    I’ve experienced a sunrise balloon flight in Cappadocia, Turkey and loved it. I imagine the Florida landscape and the thrill of drifting over it as the sun rises would be a memorable experience.

    1. That is so amazing! Cappadocia is definitely on my bucket list!

  7. This looks so fun! I will keep it in mind for next time I am in Tampa. I appreciate the tips and yoru report of how you felt safe with this company.

  8. This is great – my only hot air balloon experience has been in Cappadocia and I’m looking forward to some domestic trips!

    1. That is hopefully next on my list next!

  9. I can’t wait to do a hot air balloon ride. I love that the price included a champagne toast and breakfast. Love all your pictures as well.

    1. Right? I thought that was a nice touch! I didn’t expect anything extra, so those bonuses were definitely a treat 🙂 Thank you for your kind words!

  10. I didn’t even know you could take a hot air balloon ride in Tampa, so that’s great to know for when I make it down that way!

  11. What an amazing experience- sounds like a must-do activity! Thanks for sharing

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