Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Tour of Balboa Island, Newport Harbor
Despite having grown up in Huntington Beach, just a hop, skip and a jump away, I had never been to Balboa Island before Erica's baby shower.
I unkowingly drove past the only street that accesses it a million times. To drive in you enter Marine Ave (opposite Jamboree) off of PCH. Otherwise you can take the Balboa Ferry off the Newport Peninsula.
According to Balboa Island.com the island was created in 1899 in a time when it was surrounded by acres of orange groves. Over the next 15 years it was connected to LA and other places by railway and soon became a popular attraction.
In the 20's, 30's and 40's the Rendezvous ballroom became a big band stop, featuring names like Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.
Nowadays I wouldn't consider this the concert haven or place to be for nightlife but what I found was much better.
The island itself is little more than 2 1/2 miles around and has a wonderful quaint, sometimes quirky and definitely creative feel to it.
AND they have 2 different frozen banana places! I love me some frozen banana. I've never seen a frozen banana shop and the fact that there are 2 of them doors away from each other was incredible.
Both claim to be the original creators of the frozen banana and I'll just have to try them both eventually.
We stopped at Sugar 'n' Spice and order one. To be honest, this was my breakfast. I was surprised to find you can buy a small, medium or large. I wasn't really paying attention when B asked me what topping I wanted.
You get to pick your topping! They have toffee and nuts and different kinds of cookie and candy bits. I just didn't know what to get so I got it all.
It was delicious by the way. I mean, they all sort of taste the same. I'm tempted to go back and try one from each, side by side to do a comparison.
Walking around the main street there are lots of different artistic accents.
It seemed a bit odd to put a church and cow picture together but they were both so pretty and fun.
This is the side you pass on the road in. All these houses face part of the canal between the island and Newport Beach. In front of each is a walkway and then the sandy beach that docks some of the boats.
Across the way the boats are anchored in the harbor and to the far right is the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
How fun to look out your window every day and see these big beautiful boats out there.
I bet the view is amazing during the annual christmas boat parade.
We walked Peanut around and pointed out the houses I would like for him to buy me when he is a millionaire. Apparently John Wayne used to live here and up until recently Nicholas Cage had a house here. I wonder if Peanut could buy me John Wayne's old house. Or I could start playing the lottery.
Apparently the first houses sold on the island went for around $250. Now they are in the hundreds of thousands to millions.
On this side of the island all the streets are named after precious stones like sapphire, ruby and opal. It's very fitting.
Although many are quite small, this one was huge. It took up 2 lots and I would love to see what it looks like inside.
It appeared to have a little courtyard in the center which would be fantastic because these houses just don't have any yard space. As you are only feet away from your neighbor any private outside space would be a treasure.
Despite the lack of yards we found that the Balboa Island residents so obviously pride themselves on their gardens.
Most of the houses had patios with entertainment space surrounded by gorgeous greenery.
No two houses were the same and neither were gardens. Some of these homes and they way they dripped with greenery and flowers reminded me of cottages in fairytales.
Some like miniature castles and villas.
Every street was just as charming as the last.
On this side of the island the homes face the harbor and passed that you see the ocean.
Across the sidewalk some of the homes have their private docks.
To match the rest of the island, they are decorated and often have tables and chairs to dine or relax at.
I would love to wake up to this view in the mornings. Wake up and smell the salty air, take the baby for a walk, stick my toes in the sand...
or maybe just hop on my boat and sail around for a bit.
If you haven't been to Balboa Island you should head over. We went on a Wednesday afternoon, during the week, before summer break and it was just perfect. I'm sure it's much busier but still just as nice during the summer.
June 5th is the 18th annual Balboa Island Parade from 11 am to 2 pm. The bridge closes at 10:30 am but the ferry stays open all day. This years theme is Spirit of America so get ready for some pre-July 4th patriotic fun.