Nothing is more uplifting to the spirit than soaring through the skies above southern California, and you don’t have to be a bird to enjoy the view. Whether you’re looking to tour the coast in a helicopter, jump from a plane for a tandem skydive or parasail above the Pacific Ocean, there are companies that specialize in aerial adventures just a hop, skip and a jump away from where you live. So reach for the stars and keep your head in the clouds. Here are five of the best flying adventures near Orange County that are sure to leave you a little light-headed.
2091 Goetz Road
Perris, CA 92570
The Inland Empire’s world-famous drop zone is a favorite destination for skydiving novices and experienced jumpers alike. Hurl yourself from a speeding aircraft at 12,500 feet and experience the exhilaration of free-fall for nearly a minute while attached to a licensed instructor. Enjoy a breath-taking view down to Earth while floating beneath a giant parachute built for two. Video packages can be purchased to capture your death-defying experience of a lifetime. For those who prefer to stay closer to the ground, Skydive Perris has an on-site, indoor skydiving facility. The 96-foot vertical wind tunnel is great for flyers of all ages and skill levels. Prices for the indoor facility start at $55.
33133 Vista Del Monte Road
Temecula, CA 92591
If you’re looking for a leisurely weekend getaway or a romantic gift for your special someone, consider a hot air balloon ride above the beautiful Temecula wine country. During your hour-long trip across seven miles of sprawling vineyards and rolling hills, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of some of the most prestigious wine estates in the region, including South Coast Winery and Resort, Ponte Estate Winery and Mount Palomar Winery. If weather conditions aren’t quite right for ballooning, California Dreamin’ also offers flying adventures onboard its 1928 Travel Air biplane. The vintage plane has an open cockpit and can climb up to 1,500 feet in the air.
3815 W. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92833
Thrilling airplane rides are a specialty for SkyThrills!, located in Fullerton. Passengers can somersault through the sky on-board a real aerobatic stunt plane or take it easy in the open cockpit of a two-passenger biplane. If you’re feeling daring, you can channel your inner blue angel and man the controls of one of four world-class stunt planes. An experienced pilot will coach you through exhilarating aerobatic maneuvers even if you’ve never flown before.
510 E. Edgewater Ave.
Balboa, CA 92661
For those who want a hands-off approach to flying, a parasail may offer a more enjoyable experience. Sail up to 800 feet above the Pacific Ocean while being towed behind a speedboat. You’ll get a panoramic view of Newport Beach with one or two of your closest friends and family. For just $30, you can purchase action photos of your parasailing adventure. Balboa Parasail has one of the best safety records for parasailing adventures and all captains are USCG licensed.
4119 W. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92833
While it may not have the same draw as a tour over an erupting Hawaiian volcano, a helicopter flight with Anaheim Helicopters can take you over the mysterious Queen Mary in Long Beach or the historic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. For the tourist seeking the best view of Los Angeles and Orange County, a helicopter ride can offer front row seats to the region’s most famous attractions. Tours are both affordable and unforgettable and can last from 20 minutes up to an hour.
Truc Dever is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.