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The Best Places to Ride a Hot Air Balloon in the USA

Flying in a hot air balloon is truly a magical experience that everyone should enjoy. Nestled safely in the wicker basket, floating gracefully hundreds of feet above the earth, the quietness is deafening and the views are spectacular. Hot air balloons use a heat source,…

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Flying in a hot air balloon is truly a magical experience that everyone should enjoy. Nestled safely in the wicker basket, floating gracefully hundreds of feet above the earth, the quietness is deafening and the views are spectacular. Hot air balloons use a heat source, usually a large torch to warm up the air inside the balloon and off you go.   The pilots masterfully use wind currents to move and change direction by altering elevations to find different flows.

It’s all pretty rudimentary and amazing at the same time, how these massive balloons and their pilots can navigate as well as they can. Without an actual motor, these pilots are so skilled it continuously amazes me.

If you are not a fan of heights then maybe this isn’t for you, but for us daredevils, it is the ultimate experience.

I compiled a list of some of the best hot air balloon organizations and businesses in the country, so float away friends and find your freedom hundreds of feet in the sky.

 rainbow ryders

Rainbow Ryders

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque is home of the world famous Balloon Fiesta, a gathering of thousands of balloon enthusiasts every October. Rainbow Ryders is a FAA certified organization that operates 300 days a year and flies along the Rio Grande River. They have baskets that fit up to 12 people, so bring the whole family and experience the majesty of flight.

 lady hattan

Napa Valley Balloons

Napa Valley, CA

What better vantage point to soak in the magnificence that is the Napa Valley Wine region than with Napa Valley Balloons. Their beautiful balloons will drift above some of the world’s best vineyards and the guides will keep you informed the entire trip. Book an all day tour with them that includes wine tasting, guided bike tours and dinner at the acclaimed restaurant Etoile.

 arizona balloon safaris

Arizona Balloon Safaris

Cave Creek, AZ

Fly through the stunning Sonoran Desert just north of Phoenix. I would take the sunrise tour where the balloon flies just feet above the ground and you can see wildlife and the world famous Sonoran Cacti. Their balloons also get as high as 5,000 feet where you can see for miles and in the distance you can spot the Grand Canyon.

 country traveler

Vista Balloon Adventures

Newberg, OR

Located just a mere 40 miles outside of Portland, Vista Balloon will show you the splendor of the Willamette Valley and even give you a “splash and dash.” This is when they literally touch the basket down to the Willamette River for a quick second. Finish the tour with brunch and mimosas, a real hipster way to end anything.

 travel ur world

Asheville Hot Air Balloons

Asheville, NC

Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville is an artist community and the guided tours showcase the area’s gorgeousness.   The launching points change daily according to the wind and weather, so each tour is unique.  

balloons over letchworth 

Balloons Over Letchworth

Castile, NY

Float high above the Letchworth State Park and view over 20 wonderful waterfalls and humongous gorges that are over 600 feet. The Letchworth State Park is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East, so where better than up in a hot air balloon to see the majesty.   They operate tours from April to October, so catch a ride when you can.

 tahoe accomidations

Lake Tahoe Balloons

Lake Tahoe, CA

Lake Tahoe is one of America’s most beautiful places and the largest alpine lake in the country, so a balloon is perfect to check out the entire lake. Spend hours in the thin and crisp mountain air as you glide above the California and Nevada border. They fly every morning, so book a trip soon to soar with the birds and see the heavens while still on earth.

 

Hot air Balloons are a magical experience and I hope you get to enjoy it soon.

 

 

Photos courtesy of eskipaper, rainbowryders, ladyhattan, scottsdaletodo, countrytravelonline, travelurworld, balloonsoverletchworth, tahoe accomidations

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Destinations

The 411 On Travel Insurance

Whether it was a family memeber or stranger,you’ve probably had someone talk about travel insurance. Read through this simple breakdown and find out everything.

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     There are those that swear by it and some that don’t even know what it is – we’re talking travel insurance… and it actually may be much more beneficial than you may think! You never know what may happen when traveling so it’s always best to be prepared for anything and everything. The last thing you’d want is a ruined trip thanks to one unavoidable issue. This guide will help breakdown the extra expense and explain everything you need to know about travel insurance.

Needed?

     First and foremost, we’ll start by saying that it is definitely not necessary for any and all vacations. It all depends on what kind of trip you’re taking. Officially, you can ensure any trip that involves traveling at least 100 miles. so if you’re taking a short driving trip to visit family or friends within your state or a neighboring state, chances are you won’t need to bother. But, once your trip involves a longer flight, travel insurance can be a safe bet.

     However, there are many misconceptions about the insurance. It doesn’t cover any expenses that may come up during your trip. It will only ensure payments that took place before your departure. So, that suggests any shows or sporting event tickets, hotel expenses, pre-paid car rental, etc. can all be covered by travel insurance. But, if in the middle of your trip, you decided to catch a concert last minute, that expense cannot be covered by your travel insurance. Similarly, travel insurance cannot cover anything that is refundable, even if it was purchased before departing on your trip.

     Also, it is very important to compare and contrast plans before picking one. There are several different options out there. Take your time and consider everything about your trip and your budget. Consider the ages of all parties involved, the location of the trip, and the length of the trip. And make sure the one you choose is comprehensive and includes things like emergency medical coverage and baggage protection.

Again, travel insurance isn’t always necessary, but it can be extremely helpful and can help ensure you enjoy a safe and enjoyable travel experience. 

 


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Destinations

Travel East To West & Back On A Cross Country Train

Traveling in America can be expensive so what if I told you there is a route across the continental Unites States that only costs $213. Not on a plane but on a train!

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     Wanderlust takes us far away to foreign lands and different cultures but many haven’t even seen their home country. America is a huge parcel of land that it’s shocking how common it is for us to have never explored our own preverbal backyards.

We recommend getting out there to see what makes America so grand. Its people, land, and its majesty. Traveling across America can be expensive. Therefore, what if I told you there is a route across the continental Unites States that only costs just north of $200? Not on a plane but on a train! See our land and all it has to offer for only $200+!

Travel blogger Derek Low figured out the route and shared it with the world. He mapped out a path from San Francisco to New Your City on two trains.

His route takes you through 11 states, across 3,397 miles and so many unforgettable sights. Amtrak has some great deals so if this isn’t your desired destination, you should plan your own train adventure and see this beautiful country for yourself.

 

Details

     It’s a simple two-train path that can easily be recreated for a return trip. Amtrak offers these incredible 15-day rail passes that allow the rider to essentially take up to 8 separate rides.  The 15-day deal is more expensive ($429) than the straight route but it allows you more exploration time and freedom.

If you purchase Amtrak’s 15-day deal you can stop at cities along the route and explore at your own pace, as long as you finish the trip in 15 days. What a great way to see new cities without breaking the bank.

     Blogger Derek Low stopped at Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chicago on his way to New York. Can you imagine how expensive it would be if you tried to fly to all these different cities? Plus all the added stress that flying brings, geez, why does anyone fly. Oh, yea because it’s so fast.

If time isn’t an issue, traveling by trains are much less stressful and visually more appealing. Airports can be a real sore and most major city train stations are relics of our architectural past. Train stations hark back to a time when train travel was exciting and people treated it as such an inspiring event. Let’s make that magical feeling happen again and see just how special our country is. 

The Route

     From San Francisco, buy a ticket on the California Zephyr Line for as cheap as $130. This line takes you all the way to Chicago, through Salt Lake City, Denver, and Omaha. At times, this train travels alongside the historic route 66, the famed road from Chicago to Los Angeles.

The next route takes you from Chicago to New York City along the Lake Shore Limited for as cheap as $83. That’s a grand total of $213 for a cross-country trip, pretty sweet indeed.

For more adventures the train runs all the way to Boston, so your options are pretty limitless.

 

 


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Guides

Enjoying The Little Tastes Of Vintage Across America

There are still plenty of amazing vintage hotels still open for business around the country. 

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     There’s just something about the retro-age. It’s all about vintage and throwbacks and reboots. As annoying as it can be, some really cool vintage still exists out there. And what’s more vintage than cute, little roadside motels? Here are some of the coolest ones out there.

SANTA FE MOTEL AND INN – SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

     The Santa Fe Motel and Inn epitomizes the energy and style of the Southwest. From the classic adobe-style architecture to the colorful and rustic interior of the lobby, this place is as New Mexico as it gets. And the awesome Santa Fe Plaza is just about a seven-minute walk away. They also offer a deliciously Southwest breakfast for their guests.

THE STARLUX – WILDWOOD, NEW JERSEY

     Enjoy a proper New Jersey experience at the StarLux motel as it is just two blocks from the beach and the awesome Wildwood Boardwalk. One of the biggest motels on this list, it has a whopping 45 rooms. Plus they really lean heavily on the vintage vibe with lava lamps in the rooms, fake palm trees by the pool, and actual real-life Airstream trailers for guests to stay in.

PALM SPRINGS RENDEZVOUS – PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

     This adorable motel first opened in 1938 and was apparently the motel of choice for the one and only Marilyn Monroe when she visited Palm Springs. There are only ten rooms in the motel and they all have unique and awesome themes. Like the Rebel Without a Cause room, the Shake Rattle and Roll room, and Marilyn’s favorite, the Pretty in Pink room.

BLACK HAWK MOTEL – WISCONSIN DELLS, WISCONSIN

     This picture-perfect motel looks like it’s right out of a postcard. The best part about this vintage spot? Nearby attractions! There’s a popular tourist strip just a ten-minute walk away, and Noah’s Ark Waterpark and Kalahari Indoor Theme Park are a short drive away. The motel even provides free passes to all its guests!

THE MOTOR LODGE – PRESCOTT, ARIZONA

     This quaint little spot was built all the way back in 1910. It was originally just a small collection of summer cabins. It’s changed a lot over the years thanks to multiple owners, but now it’s considered an awesome boutique motel located right around the corner from Whiskey Row and historic downtown. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary glass of wine when they arrive, a homemade cookie when they leave, and plenty of bikes for borrowing.

RED CABOOSE MOTEL – RONKS, PENNSYLVANIA

     This place is an absolute must-see. Literally made from 19 25-ton train cabooses all the way back in 1969, motels doing get any more vintage than the Red Caboose Motel. Guests will literally stay in the cabooses, with some of them big enough to support a whole family, and one honeymoon caboose with a queen-sized bed and a romantic whirlpool bath. It also includes a petting zoo, a miniature train ride, and free movie nights in the barn.


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