Sometimes it takes a visit from an out-of-towner to appreciate all the great places that are close to home. Often times we get so caught up in traveling someplace far away and exotic, that we forget to stop and explore all that our local regions have to offer. I could probably spend a lifetime exploring the Southern California and still never see it all!
Recently, we took my inlaws down to Balboa Island in Newport Beach for a day of seaside fun. For some reason, Southern California was protesting summer and had put on its grumpiest face. The days were filled with gloomy clouds that would not break, and the seas were angry; throwing giant waves at the shore in a form of protest against the weather. Lucky for us, glum weather is no match for the beauty of Balboa. Balboa Island is one of the most expensive places in the country to live and its no wonder why, its picture perfect. Charming bayside homes line the streets and frozen banana stands dot the main drag. Every time I visit Balboa Island, I can’t help but think of the idyllic town of Seaside, the town that Jim Carrey’s character in The Truman Show called home.
Adding to the picture perfect streets were flags and other sorts patriotic decor left out from the Independence Day celebration the day prior. We found a parking spot (which can often be a precious commodity on this island come summer) and strolled along the canals towards the bay, admiring the white-trimmed houses and taking guesses at how many millions each one would set us back.
Soon we reached roads end and hopped on board the tiny ferry which shuttles 3 cars and a couple dozen sightseers across the channel to the Balboa Peninsula. Immediately the kids wanted to hit up the rides at the Balboa Fun Zone. Mari took the obligatory ride on the carousel while Ben opted to try something a bit more thrill seeking (well, for a toddler)- the ferris wheel. Paul couldn’t resist buying a package of that pink fluffy pillow of sugar that people pass off as food and the kids were happy to stuff themselves with as much as they could pry out of their Daddy’s hands.
We played the usual arcade classics such as skeeball and shoot-the-hoop, and marveled at the skills of our pint sized athlete. Look for Ben, in some event or another, in the 2024 Olympics.
Then we headed over to the pier to pick up burgers at Ruby’s, a pier’s end mainstay here in Southern California. The 50’s themed diner may be a chain, but it certainly does seem to fit in with throwback feel of the peninsula.
While chomping on burgers and watching the kids play on the playground, we couldn’t help but notice a sudden exodus of wet tourists carrying soaked towels away from the beach. We went over towards the surf and marveled at the sudden absence of the people which had previous occupied the sand with their towels, umbrellas, and beach chairs. The reason? A monster wave had just hit the shore and carried itself all the way to the lifeguard stand!
We decided to stick around and watch the surf to see if we could catch a glimpse of something as equally impressive. Sure, the waves were much bigger than normal, but at first glance they appeared to be nothing outside of what one would normally see before a storm hit the coast.
Suddenly, the sets got bigger. MUCH BIGGER. While I stood there exclaiming “Wow” over and over, my husband had the foresight to grab the camera and wait with his eye in the view finder for the “big one”.
Then it came.
And he caught it.
It was enormous. It made every other wave I had ever seen look like a dwarf in comparison. The wave came within a few feet of the top of the pier and probably gave those who happened to be standing near the rails quite a thrill! Once again, Mother Nature reminded us all who was boss.
If you visit Balboa, you probably won’t see monster waves or gloomy days. What you will see is a great spot to spend a day together as a family and a fine example of what makes California so special. If your family makes an annual pilgrimage to Disneyland, consider skipping the theme park madness for a day and hitting up this gorgeous spot on the golden coast. I promise, Mickey will do just fine without you.
Playing along with Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursdays. Click on the link and find more great family friendly travel fun!
Also playing along with Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.