Best of both worlds: Life on California’s Balboa Island
It’s the kind of place where kids still color with chalk on the sidewalks, people of all ages hang out with drinks on their front porch, and dog-walkers say hi and let you pet their dog. The perimeter is a pleasant 1.7-mile walkway along beaches, marinas, charming zero-lot-line homes, and beautiful Newport Bay. It’s topped off by a cute business district with seaside-themed shops, casual restaurants, and the iconic frozen banana stands made famous on the Arrested Development TV show.
The “sandspit” that was enhanced before World War I is now home to cozy cottages and million-dollar views of the harbor and Bay. Don’t get me wrong, there are also multimillion-dollar homes here and not all are small, but are all side-by-side making for a very friendly vibe. I love that every home is different and reflects a distinct personality. From historic to ultra-modern you find a mishmash of architectural styles, but somehow it all works. Beaches are small and friendly and a $2 per car ($1 per person) ferry takes passengers the short-haul, 800’ crossing to Balboa Peninsula. And the flowers! They are always beautiful.
Since 1908, the Island has become well-known locally for hosting a magical Christmas Boat Parade the week before Christmas. These days the parade runs for five nights giving visitors plenty of opportunities to also see the displays of delightful, creative, entertaining Christmas decorations put up by the majority of the Island’s 3000+ residents.
You’ll want to stay awhile.
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