Here’s your daily travel guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State. Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor.
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Why: Gently, this big balloon will take you 400 feet above Great Park in Irvine, giving a 40-mile view on a clear day.
What: The balloon, which opened in 2007, is 118 feet, top to bottom. The gondola that hangs beneath it is perpetually tethered to the ground by a steel cable. It carries up to 30 passengers at a time.
Great Park as a whole has gone through many delays and changes over the last decade, but its 76 publicly accessible acres are due to grow to 764 this year as sports facilities open. And the balloon is simple fun.
The attraction operates Thursday through Sunday, with no age, height or health restrictions. Rides are wheelchair-accessible. While you're aloft, check out the park's other features, including a carousel, sports facilities, an organic farm, a farmers market on Sundays and a historical timeline of how this open space -- a big chunk of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro -- came to be what it is today.
Where: 6950 Marine Orange County Great Park, Irvine, 42 miles southeast of downtown L.A.
How much: Adults pay $10 each. Ages 18 and younger ride free with a paid adult. Ages 13-18 pay $5 each when unaccompanied.
Info: Great Park Balloon