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The next time you visit Newport Beach, just an hour's drive from LA, a day on Balboa Island should top your to-do list.
Located within iconic Newport Harbor and accessible via bridge or ferryboat, the small, nautical island offers classic Americana charm aplenty, from shopping on quaint Marine Avenue to strolling the 2.6 mile waterfront boardwalk or catching the historic auto ferry to Balboa Peninsula.
In fact, the relaxing island was recently named a contender for the 8th Wonder of the World by Virtual Tourist. Voting opens June 3rd, but before you cast your virtual ballot make sure to head to Balboa Island, where you're sure to experience some--if not all--of the following.
Tree lined Marine Avenue is the place to be when it comes to boutique hopping. Swing by Magnolia Charlie to outfit your children in the latest fashions, then stop into EVEN Sister to complete your gift list with everything from jewelry to beachwear. And be sure to pickup something for the house at Olive Oil & Beyond, a gourmet food shop specializing in, you guessed it, olive oil, and offering everything from artisanal jams to organic beauty products.
Luckily the dining on Balboa Island is as good as the shopping, not to mention diverse. Basilic Restaurant offers Swiss French cuisine in the heart of Orange County, while The Village Inn is perfect for everything from a pancake breakfast to happy hour cocktails paired with live music.
Of course no culinary tour of Balboa Island would be complete without a Frozen Banana or a Balboa Bar. A Frozen Banana is an ideal way to cool off after a day on the beach. Covered in chocolate, most people sprinkle this fruity treat in a variety of toppings. The Balboa Bar, a square of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and topped with everything from toffee bits to toasted coconut shavings, quickly became the island's namesake desert when it was first introduced in the 1950s, and today it's available at treat purveyors like Dad’s Donuts or Sugar ‘N Spice.
The Balboa Fun Zone
In addition to exploring the town and lounging on one of its pristine beaches, another must see is the Balboa Fun Zone, just a quick ferry ride across the harbor to Balboa Peninsula. One of Southern California's oldest and last great coastal amusement areas, the Fun Zone harks back to a bygone era thanks to a fully restored ferris wheel, arcades and a pier perfect for fishing. For prices and hours, visit TheBalboaFunZone.com
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