Reports last week of a little boy floating away in a homemade balloon turned out to be a lot of hot air (this is me breathing a sigh of relief).
The same day the balloon boy hoax became nationwide news, I floated in a balloon above Las Vegas with my fellow Vegas.com writer Jeannie Borbe. Our balloon, however, was tethered to the ground with a steel cable (this is me breathing another sigh of relief).
The Cloud Nine Balloon Experience, the world’s largest, tethered helium balloon ride, is located in Las Vegas directly across from Mandalay Bay on the south end of the Strip. Though the 7-stories-wide by 11-stories high balloon can be seen from miles away, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Cloud Nine entrance, which is only accessible while heading north on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Once on the property, you will enter a building that is decorated to resemble an airport gate, complete with a gift shop and a friendly staff dressed like pilots. Outside, colorful wind sculptures and extensive informational plaques detailing the history of ballooning cover the nicely landscaped property around the balloon boarding area.
Though the balloon floats high in the air, the price of admission is low: Only $22.50 per person during the day and $27.50 at night. The night flight is particularly dazzling as it is the perfect opportunity to soak in the bright lights of the city.
Rising above Sin City in the open air is an exhilarating, and surprisingly peaceful experience, even if you’re afraid of heights. The take off and the descent is smooth, and the cabin remains stable at all times. Once the balloon reaches its altitude of almost 500 feet, passengers are free to walk around and take in a rarely-seen 360 degree view the Las Vegas valley.