Photo: Stephen Hodgins for Red Balloon Sightseeing Adventures.

Bucket List: Up, Up and Away in a Big Red Balloon

Editor’s Note: For dRTB’s Health & Happiness Issue 2021, Mary Lou Janson explores the many ways in which Florida is the perfect destination for checking off lifetime bucket lists — whether you’re looking for once-in-a-lifetime adventures on land, underwater, in the sky or on the racetrack.

For a fun way to catch the first rays of the day, glide through the air in the gondola of a hot air balloon, courtesy of Big Red Balloon Sightseeing Adventures

Panoramic, pastoral views of lush forests, peaceful lakes and local wildlife are in store for passengers soaking in the scenery of north Hillsborough and south Pasco counties from about 1,000 feet above ground. These are literally bird’s-eye views of local landscapes. Flights lack the engine noise normally associated with air travel. Enjoy scenery and serenity throughout the hour-long ride.

Inflating these big red balloons to their six-story height takes about 20 minutes, and passengers are welcome to give the ground crew a hand. The uplifting adventure begins with a traditional champagne toast that has a history more than two centuries in the making. Then it’s time to climb aboard and get your head in the clouds. Or, at least, above the tree line.

Transportation to and from the take-off sites, the aforementioned bubbly, balloon ride and post-flight breakfast at a local restaurant runs $200 per person.