Many kids will count some of their fondest childhood memories as when they visited Balboa Island. Its the perfect place for families to come, enjoy the endless sunshine and live the nautical life for the day. How many of these top 10 things on this list have you done?
1. Get a Tummy Ache at Balboa Candy
If you are looking for a candy shop that carries one of the largest selections of saltwater taffy in the world, then youve come to the right place. Balboa Candy is the candy store that screams Old Fashioned, echoing from its wooden barrels filled with taffy and other candies. The back of the store is an homage to yesteryear candy for Baby Boomers to be reunited with their long lost childhood favorites like Bit O Honeys and Caramel Creams, Fun Dip and Candy Cigarettes and of course Bottle Caps. Perfect place for kids to bring their parents, who will be just as excited as their little ones to get a tummy ache.
2. Build a Sandcastle on the Beach
Future OC real estate developers surely started building houses on the tiny patches of beach that surround Balboa Island. With nothing more than a plastic pail and a shovel, kids show off their talents building sandcastles on Balboa Island. Its a must do activity when visiting.
3. Spot a Sea Lion or a Dolphin
Newport Harbor is home to many sea animals, most notably the dolphin and the sea lion. While walking the Bayfront or laying on the beach, you can spot them from a distance poking their heads out of the water and even swimming in pairs. If youre lucky you can spot a sea lion actually on the beach, approach the cement tide wall and bark at the passerbys.
4. Eat a Balboa Bar at Sugar n Spice
The infamous Balboa Bar is already a legend in the foodie world. A simple ice cream bar on a stick with your choice of delicious toppings, kids love to make this treat part of their visit to the Island. Get your appetites up early as Sugar n Spice (most famous for their Balboa Bars) will start forming long lines in the summer even before lunch time.
5. Get Dressed up at Magnolia Charlies
Fashionable kids come to Balboa Island to shop for the latest and cutest childrens trends. Magnolia Charlie is the longstanding boutique on Marine Ave. that has dressed thousands of island kids. With popular brands like Ella, Giggle Moon and Levis, kids will have no reason to fuss over their outfits again. They also carry bathing suits for the beach, suitable for sandcastle building.
6. Take a Picture in front of the Painted Cow at Even Sisters
Its become sort of a Balboa Island staple, a resident of some sorts that is one of the most photographed on Balboa Island. Even Sisters, a beach inspired boutique, has a large cow out front of the shop. Its painted a variety of fun colors that causes walking traffic to stop and take pictures. It is a great memento to show your friends and family a picture of your kids standing next to the iconic Balboa Island cow. And its free!
7. Eat a Hippo Cookie at Dads Donuts
You will see the many photos lined up at Dads donuts depicting kids eating their hippo cookies. It is a simple sugar cookie with bright colored frosting and M&Ms for eyes. They are addicting to say the least, and have captured the taste buds and brought happiness to the sugar teeth of many kids.
8. Ride the Ferry, Play at the Fun Zone
Its no doubt the most popular attraction on Balboa Island is the Fun Zone. Although there have been many changes over the years (the removal of the Merry Go Round, sigh), the Fun Zone has still maintained a constant stream of unique visitors every year. The fun starts off as you ride the ferry boat across the harbor from Balboa Island to the Peninsula. Once off, you can visit the ExplorOcean Museum, spin around on the Ferris Wheel, take a Harbor Cruise, eat a delicious Corn Dog at Jans or kids only can bungee jump on a trampoline.
9. See the Annual Christmas Boat Parade
With nearly a million lights dangling from boat sails and rails, the Annual Christmas Parade is a holiday treat for every child. Mesmerized by the decorated boats and light shows, kids line the Bayfront sipping their hot cocoa and bundling up on the sand with blankets and lawn chairs to grab the best seat in the house. Nearly 100 boats every year with 1 million lights, its a memory that is sure to last forever.
10. Pet an Island Kitty
Island cats have become a living legend on Balboa Island. Mostly seen on North Bayfront, Island cats walk the cement wall that separates beach from house in hopes to find treats that passerbys leave for them. Most of them are friendly, lounging on chairs and waiting for locals to pet them. They are free spirited, enjoying the island air like the rest of the visitors. Most cats can be seen on early morning walks on the island from 7am-10am when it is still cool out. Cats often demand attention, rubbing up against your leg until your give them a petting.