Balboa Island



Have you ever been to Balboa Island in Newport Beach? When I was growing up—in Long Beach, CA—we would frequently drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to go to dinner at the Spaghetti Factory and then get in the line for the auto ferry which would take 3 cars at a time across Newport Harbor to Balboa Peninsula.

My dad would tell me how he spent a summer in a rental on the 0.2-square-mile island and I would try to imagine him there while watching college students pedal around on their cruisers barefoot. We’d head straight to one of the two shops making frozen bananas and Balboa bars (vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in toppings of your choice) and try to eat them without getting the chocolate all over ourselves.


We stopped there with the kids on our last trip to Southern California.

We drove down from Los Angeles to visit my grandmother and other family and spent an afternoon: We rode the ferry, ate Balboa bars and bananas, went to the “fun zone” and played SkeeBall and Whack-a-Mole (“Frog frenzy,” in this case), and Hudson and Aron rode the Ferris Wheel while Skyler and I watched from below.


Crazy kid that he is, Hudson just wanted plain chocolate soft-serve… until he tasted my Balboa Bar. We had to get another one. Skyler was excited to have a plain frozen banana (she loves anything on a stick). Fun side note: the frozen banana stands on Balboa Island were the inspiration for Bluth’s banana stand on Arrested Development. “There’s always money in the banana stand.” 


It would have never occurred to me to think of renting a home on the island myself, because it always seemed so close to home. But now that I’m away from Southern California, I imagine it would be a fun, low-key place to rent a cottage for a week. Newport has some beautiful beaches; and we could ride bikes, eat at the Crab Pot, walk around with sandy feet, and read after the kids are asleep.

Has anyone done it?



P.S. Our Los Angeles Travelogue Part 1 and Part 2.  And a 5 Things Guide to Long Beach.

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