Balboa Island Staycation

Instead of leaving town for summer vacation, hang in town and enjoy all the cool things tourists do around Balboa Island and Newport! Here’s your three day plan for fun in the sun:

Day 1: First, coffee at Starbucks, then a stop at Our Gang’s General Store for sand toys and floaties. Park yourself on one of the beaches so the kids can play in the sand and the calm water. Enjoy a picnic lunch from your cooler or visit the Island Grill next to the ferry. They have delicious made-to-order tacos, burgers, milkshakes and more. Ride the ferry over to the Fun Zone and let the kids get crazy! Boardwalk rides include the Ferris wheel ($4,) Bull Shark ($10,) bungee jumping ($10,) and Gyroscope ($5.) The operators take credit cards, which is a good thing because you may run out of cash! Hit the arcades for some air conditioned video games, Skee ball and other amusements. For an early dinner, visit BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse for some deep dish pizza, cold beers and of course, the famous Pizooki – a warm pizza-shaped chocolate chip cookie with ice cream on top.

Day 2: Time for a beach day at Big Corona! This gorgeous state beach has everything you need for the entire day. Convenient parking (rates range from $2.50 to $4.00 an hour, depending on the time of year, rest rooms, concessions and outdoor showers make this beach an easy one for families with young children. There are volleyball courts and wide open sand, so bring all your toys in addition to boogie boards and skim boards. Walk down the beach to the right and climb over the amazing rock obstacles at Pirate’s Cove. To the left is a steep path up to Inspiration Point and its incredible views. Pack a big cooler, an umbrella or pop up and stay until sunset. Fire rings are available for evening bonfires, too.

Day 3: Sleep in late because today you’re getting active. Ride bikes to the ferry and cross over to the peninsula or rent bikes down by the pier. The Newport Balboa Bike Trail runs all along the oceanfront – the entire trail is 4.5 miles long. Stop at the Stuft Surfer Café at 15th Street for delicious, humongous breakfast burritos.  Then, spend the afternoon stand-up paddle boarding throughout the harbor. Rentals are available at Balboa Boat Rentals at the Fun Zone (949-673-7200) for $25/hour or $40 for two hours. Cap off your staycation with dinner out on the town! If you have kids with you, go to Mama D’s or Ruby’s on the Pier. If it’s adults-only, try Fly ‘N’ Fish Oyster Bar & Grill or Slapfish for more casual fare.

We all hate for vacations to end. If you have more time, be a true Southern California tourist and plan on Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood and the Santa Monica pier. Try a staycation today!