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10.08.2006 - 26 comments 

Also on our trip to Southern California last week, we went down from Ventura and visited Newport Beach on our way down the South Coast of California. I took this shot on what is called the Balboa Pier. It has always seemed strange to me that they call this pier the "Balboa Pie, because Balboa is actually an Island on the inside of the Newport Harbor and doesn't really even touch this pier. At the end of this pier is a cool little cafe called Rudy's. It is usually pretty busy and to me is exactly what a cafe on the end of a pier should be. (Quaint, greasy and with the smell of salt water).

Newport Beach has a charming island and peninsula, with great beaches. Yet despite all of its charms, it's often overlooked by tourists and area residents alike, which keeps it relatively uncrowded.

The seven islands of Newport Beach Harbor lie cradled inside Balboa Peninsula, and are some of the most expensive real estate in Southern California. Homes costing $1.5 million and up are surrounded by one of the world's largest small yacht harbors. Newport Beach is a quiet, relaxed place where you're more likely to meet the harbor patrol than the highway patrol, and you may hear more birds than automobiles. You could (in spite of that) spend a while driving around trying to find a parking space.

Newport is Just off Pacific Coast Highway in Orange County. We took CA 55 south from I-5 and directly onto Newport Blvd., or you exit CA 1 at Newport Blvd. Newport Blvd. turns into Balboa Blvd., and it goes down the middle of the peninsula. You can reach Balboa Island from the peninsula by ferry, or take Jamboree Rd. south from I-5 (which has its access by a bridge rather than ferry.

Balboa Island itself can be accessed by the ferry, which takes you to Balboa Island, but first, you can stop for lunch on the upstairs patio at Newport Landing, where the harbor traffic provides a side dish of free entertainment to go with your meal. Once planned to be a racetrack, Balboa Island now teems with cottages arranged in neat rows, looking like a Norman Rockwell scene with American flags flying. Marine Avenue, the island's only shopping area, offers a variety of wares, from handmade kites to resort wear.

Balboa Peninsula's beach was named one of the top ten urban beaches in the United States by Surfrider Magazine in 2001. Ocean side or harbor side? It could be the most difficult decision of your day. The Wedge, at the ocean-side tip of Balboa Peninsula, is famous for bodysurfing. Nearby, Corona del Mar State Beach sits below protective cliffs, the sand littered with beachgoers. I actually used to body surf the Wedge when I was a lot younger and more adventuresome.

There are many things you can do in Newport Beach. Some of those Sights and Activities like the Harbor Cruise, which allows you to cruise on the Pavilion Paddy to get acquainted with Newport Beach Harbor. You can soak up sunshine while moving gently past through green water. Float past waterfront homes, each with their own boat dock, and listen to the gossip-column stories of today and yesterday. Learn who owns the enormous yachts, and how they made their money. You'll pass cottages so small you'd have to go outside just to change your mind, and million dollar mansions divided by sibling squabbles.

As a not so little Side Trip: Newport Beach likes to claim Catalina Island as one of its attractions even though it's technically in Los Angeles County, but who can blame them? If you have the time, take the Catalina Flyer for a day trip to Catalina Island, "the land of happiness." Some of you may even remember the post I did on Avalon Bay on Catalina a few months back, but this visit we opted out of the Catalina trip. Newport Beach is a place where we also got a frozen banana from one of the local shops along the beach. We had a good time down there and even plan on coming back next summer for more of this adventure.

"Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life." -Jack Kerouac Posted by Picasa