Balboa Island is a key tourist attraction in Newport Beach. Most guests take the ferry to the island, where they can enjoy the beach, fish, get in some exercise or visit the island’s many boutiques, shops, and restaurants. There’s also a Fun Zone with an arcade and rides, including a Ferris wheel.
The Environmental Nature Center has its origins in a pile of dirt. In 1972, Newport Harbor High built an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and the dirt from that construction was dumped near a gully on a piece of underutilized land, not far from the school district’s administrative offices. A group of students and science teachers got together and cultivated the soil into a “living nature laboratory.” Today, the land flourishes with trees, plants, and wildlife. The property also contains a butterfly house, which is open seasonally. It’s free to visit, though donations are appreciated.
In the comedy TV series Arrested Development, the Bluth family maintained a frozen banana stand on Balboa Island. In real life, you can get a frozen banana for yourself, or you can go for the Balboa Bar: a brick of vanilla ice cream, dipped in chocolate, covered in crunchy toppings, all presented on a stick. Two neighboring shops—Dad’s Donuts and Sugar ‘n Spice—argue about which lays a true claim to the title of “original frozen banana,” yet both are delicious.
Sugar ‘n Spice, 310 Marine Avenue, Newport Beach, CA, USA, +1 949 673 8907
Dad’s Donuts, 318 Marine Avenue, Newport Beach, CA, USA, +1 949 673 8686
Since 1976, Fashion Island has been a shopping destination for Newport Beach residents and tourists alike. The open-air mall contains numerous upscale shops, plus restaurants, bars, and a movie theater.
Fashion Island, 401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA, USA, +1 855 658 8527
Corona del Mar, which means “Crown of the Sea” in Spanish, is a neighborhood known for its beauty. Top attractions include its beaches, lookout points, and tide pools. Popular beaches include Corona del Mar State Beach’s Little Corona.
The Wedge is a section of beach known for its massive waves, some swelling as high as 30 feet (9.1 meters). The area is popular with surfers and bodyboarders, as well as the spectators who gather to cheer them on. These epic waves are, oddly enough, man-made. They are the result of a nearby jetty built in the 1930s.
Dedicated to the conservation and restoration of the Upper Newport Bay, the Newport Bay Conservancy regularly hosts bird-watching events, kayak tours, lectures, and various other educational and family-friendly activities. Reptiles and amphibians can be viewed in the classrooms of the Muth Interpretive Center.
Inspiration Point is a small grassy area where visitors can enjoy incredible ocean views and vivid sunsets. Find it at Corona del Mar State Beach at Ocean Boulevard and Orchid Avenue. Benches are available for sitting and pondering the universe.