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Head to Reno for Hot Air Balloon Fun

renoballoonsThere are tons of things to do off the Strip in Vegas, from rock-climbing in Red Rock Canyon to hiking in the Grand Canyon to marveling at the Hoover Dam. But if you’re looking to get even farther off the Strip than that, consider a trip to Reno for the Great Reno Balloon Race, held every year in September.

The event is not only one of largest hot air balloon festivals in the world, it’s the largest free hot air balloon festival. It features an early morning ascent from the Dawn Patrol, who scopes out wind conditions for later balloons, tethered balloon rides for kids, and competitions like Balloon Blackjack where pilots have to steer their balloons over giant playing cards on the ground, and try to throw bean bags onto the right cards to earn 21 points.

Even if you aren’t a hot air balloon enthusiast, the event makes for an unforgettable sight, and small kids will be especially impressed by the brightly colored balloons soaring overhead. Flights to Reno are short and often inexpensive, and it’s easy to find cheap hotels in Reno, making this an affordable and low-stress side trip from Las Vegas.

Photo by Twelve Horses