I’ve already discussed the main attractions to see and the most popular things to do in and around Charlottesville, Virginia, in a previous post. And, from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and the University of Virginia to Shenandoah National Park and the Historic Downtown Mall, there is a surprising number of highlights in this small central Virginian city.
What I haven’t yet talked about, though, is arguably one of the most memorable things you can possibly do in this area—going for a balloon ride in Charlottesville. I had the chance to do exactly that a few days ago and was absolutely blown away by the experience.
Charlottesville Hot Air Balloon Ride
Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County, incidentally the birthplace of wine-making in the United States, is without question one of the most beautiful rural regions in the country. It consists of expansive estates, organic farms, wineries, woods and undulating hills.
By far the best place to get a new perspective of this stunning region is from the sky. A Charlottesville hot air balloon ride is more remarkable than you would first assume. The city and its surroundings are nothing short of jaw-dropping, particularly on a sunny early-summer morning.
There are a few companies that offer a balloon ride in Charlottesville—the one I went with is Bonaire Charters, owned by Scott Cohrs who has been flying the Charlottesville skies for nearly 25 years. Scott, a remarkably skilled pilot, is exceptionally knowledgeable about the Albemarle County region and ballooning in general.
A Charlottesville hot air balloon ride usually takes about an hour, the direction and distance depending completely on the wind pattern and speed. Flights take place in the early morning or in the late evening, just after sunrise, just before sunset, when the light is at its most beautiful. Going for a balloon ride in Charlottesville is absolutely, strongly recommended if you’re visiting the area and if you’ve included that in your travel budget. It’s magnificent.