Get High With Our Top 20 Scenic Aerial Tours in North America

In Stories
There’s something fundamentally satisfying about a good view. Whether it’s a mountain vista, city skyline or just a nice outlook from your backyard, impressive scenery has the uncanny ability to impress, inspire and revitalize. But rather than wait for those moments to materialize, scenic flights provide the goods for you, guaranteed. North America has more than its share of pristine lakes, forests and alpine ranges, making it an ideal location for guided scenic tours. We’ve picked out the top 20 aerial tours in North America so you won’t have to look far for that next inspirational vista.

1.      Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour, NV

You can’t get more grand than the Grand Canyon, and there’s no better way to experience its glory than strapped into a chopper. Take your pick from a dozen tour operators in Vegas, Boulder or Sedona. However you manage to score a seat, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the canyon’s geological treasures and diverse flora & fauna. Some operators, such as All American Helicopter, also throw in a picnic lunch and champagne.

2.      Hot Air Ballooning in the Okanagan, BC

The Okanagan boasts some of the finest wineries in North America, but its scenery also attracts tourists from far and wide. Canada may be renowned for its whopping snowfall and glacier fed lakes, but as the only large, desert-like area in the country, the Okanagan’s scenery stands apart from the rest. With mild annual temperatures and varied terrain dotted with wineries and lavish homes, this place is ideal for hot air ballooning. Early morning and sunset flights are easy to come by across all four seasons.

3.      Air Float in Tofino

If rugged wilderness and wild nature are what you crave, an air float tour in Tofino will satisfy. Feast your eyes on uninhabited wilderness and marvel over the sandy beaches, rocky headlands and tidal shelves. Clayoquot Sound is a short trip from the coastline and will leave you in awe of its craggy remote islands and impenetrable rainforest.

4.      Heli in the Rockies

The Canadian Rockies hardly needs an introduction, its dramatic landscapes making it a haven for photographers and nature lovers. Hikers, bikers and skiers flock to the Rockies for its mountain vistas, but helicopter tours will allow you to cover more ground and bring home photographs you’ll be proud to call your own. There’s a higher concentration of heli operators in Banff, Canmore and Calgary, but no matter where you embark, you’ll get your share of glaciers, crevasses and emerald green lakes.

5.      Aerial photography flight over Florida

Located on the south west tip of Florida, Fort Myers has got more than enough sun, sand and scenery. Scenic flights are a great way to experience Florida’s pristine islands and beaches, but they’re also a great way for budding photographers to hone their skills. Paragon Flight offers specialized photography tours that cruise slowly over the ocean and remove the entire passenger door to boost your chances of capturing a money shot.

6.      Napa Balloon Ride

California’s Napa Valley is renowned for its picturesque vineyards, and a hot air balloon ride is the perfect way to take it all in. Cruising several hundred feet above the Valley, you can spot iconic landmarks and see Mother Nature at her best. Mild annual weather makes the Napa an ideal location for ballooning, and with hundreds of wineries on Napa’s doorstep, it’s easy to find a good vintage when you find your feet. Platypus Tours offers a full day balloon and winery tour which will allow you to make the most of the time you’ve got.

 7.      Hot Air Ballooning in Albuquerque

Albuquerque is home to the largest gathering of ballooning enthusiasts in the world – it even hosts the world’s largest hot air balloon festival each year. Clear blue skies, calm winds and mild temperatures draw the crowds to this place, along with varied scenery from the Rio Grande Valley, El Bosque forest and the Sandia Mountains. There are no shortage of operators in this ballooning hub so you can take to the skies and catch a New Mexico sunrise year round.

8.      Glacier sightseeing, Whistler BC

If you’re a ski junkie or mountain bike diehard, you can probably find Whistler on a map with your eyes closed. But its crystal clear lakes and impressive mountain peaks also make it a great place for helicopter sightseeing tours. Take in the beauty of Whistler Resort on an explorer tour, or feast your eyes on the breathtaking Cheakamus Glacier. Ice-blue beauty and panoramic views, guaranteed!

9.      Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

See more mountain peaks, rivers and glaciers than you could cover in a lifetime on a scenic flight over the East Arm of Glacier Bay National Park. Capture inspiring photographs of the Rainbow and Davidson Glaciers, and learn about Alaska’s constantly changing landscape. Mountain Flying Service, Earth Center Adventures and Fly Drake run flightseeing tours year round.

10.      Tandem Hang Gliding in Arizona

For a scenic adventure that will make your heart skip to a faster beat, try hang gliding in Arizona. Led by a certified instructor, you can take adrenaline pumping turns over the Sonoran Desert and marvel over the scenery as you soar hundreds of feet above ground.

11 .      Scenic flight over the San Fran Bay Area

San Francisco is a vibrant city, but the best way to discover this gem is to see it from the air. Hayward Flight is well acquainted with the highlights and can introduce you to all the sites during a one hour trip. Whether you’re after great photos of the Golden Gate Bridge or just want to catch a bird’s eye view of the city, pilot Rick Cascelli will take you on a ride of a lifetime. The photo opportunities are endless and the bragging rights will make it worth your while. Book your trip here.

12.      Tandem Paragliding, Vancouver

If wow factor is what you’re after, embrace the feeling of weightlessness on a tandem paragliding adventure. Team up with an experienced guide and marvel over the Grouse Mountain Peak as you cruise 3,300 feet above ground. Anyone over 6 years of age can give it a try, making it a great family outing.

13.      Intro Helicopter Lesson, NYC

North America has its share of scenic tours, but why not turn it into an adventure by jumping into the drivers’ seat? Wings Air Helicopters offer intro chopper lessons which cover flying technique, controls and safety procedures before launching you into the air for a one-on-one flight. Don’t stress, you won’t be thrown into the deep end; Pilot Brett will show you the ropes before handing over the controls, and will be there to help out when the amazing views of NYC are hard to ignore.

14.      Seaplane over Seattle

Escape the ordinary on a guided seaplane tour over Seattle. Cruise over Lake Union’s houseboat communities and glide above Seattle’s downtown skyline. If Mother Nature is in a good mood, you can even catch the distant snow-capped mountains on a clear day. Take off from the water and enjoy the scenery as you pass over the city scapes.

15.      Liberty Harbor Helicopter Tour

Any decent guidebook has a page dedicated to New York’s Statue of Liberty, but the best way to see this national monument is from the air. Join Itai Shoshani from Zip Aviation for a helicopter tour that will blow your mind. Feast your eyes on lower Manhattan’s iconic Wall Street, the Empire State Building and of course the Statue of Liberty, topped off with a peep over Central Park.

16.      Maryland Balloon Ride

Escape reality for a few hours as you cruise over lush green plains in eastern Maryland. Float over corn fields and watch the sun emerge from beneath the horizon on a morning flight. You may also spot wild deer and birds over Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Not a bad start to the morning.

17.      Niagara Falls Scenic Tour

Whether you’re after a memorable family vacation or you’re just a sucker for a good view, a scenic helicopter tour over Niagara Falls should do the trick. Have your camera handy before takeoff so you don’t miss the mind-blowing views of Niagara River, Whirlpool Rapids and the Rainbow Bridge. Take your pick from a morning ride or sunset trip and buckle up for a ride of a lifetime. Family rates are available.

 18.      Hollywood Scenic Flights

Don’t settle for crowded bus tours – catch all the Hollywood highlights in a fraction of the time on a scenic helicopter tour. See the sights from a new perspective, including the Hollywood Sign, downtown LA and the Venice Beach boardwalk. You can also take a bird’s eye peek at celebrity homes such as Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry and Ben Affleck just to name a few.

19.      Miami Seaplane

For a thrilling aerial experience, try a seaplane tour over Miami’s skyline. Catch a glimpse of the beautifully restored lighthouse and saltwater homes in the middle of Biscayne Bay, and cruise above Matheson Hammock and Coconut Grove. You’ll even fly low enough to spot exotic marine life like star fish, sting rays, dolphins and sharks.

20.      NYC Big City Helicopter Tour

We’ve already mentioned chopper tours over the Liberty Harbor in New York, but we wouldn’t want you to miss out on seeing the Big Apple at its finest. Zip Aviation also offers a Big City Tour which takes in the highlights over Liberty Harbor, plus a scenic tour over the George Washington Bridge. You’ll cruise past the Palisades Cliffs, Grant’s Tomb and over to the brand new Yankee Stadium. Experienced Pilot Itai Shoshan will show you Manhattan from the best possible vantage point.

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