The Fun Zone at Balboa Island is one of the oldest Southern California beach amusement parks. This classic park with a carnival atmosphere offers entertainment for all ages, including a waterfront Ferris wheel with views of Newport Harbor and the Pacific Ocean, which runs day and night. There are also arcade games, casual restaurants and plenty of quaint shops. Stroll historic Balboa Pier built in 1906, one of the few piers to survive undamaged by Southern California's coastal storms, or charter a harbor, fishing or whale-watching excursion. You can also hitch a ride on the Catalina Flyer for a one-hour trip out to Catalina Island.
The Newport Pier, which is located at Balboa Peninsula, sees lots of action from surfers at the jetty to skaters, cyclists and swimmers. The view looks north toward Huntington Beach and south to the Balboa Pier. It's a great place to ride your bike along the trail that extends around most of the peninsula. There's a wide variety of beachfront and harbor front dining, including 21 Oceanfront, Fly N Fish Oyster Bar & Grill, Woody's Wharf and Crab Cooker when you're ready to refuel. Don't miss the busy bar scene popular with locals, and visit the historic Dory Fishing Fleet, founded in 1891, located near the base of the pier.
Take your pick of caramel apples in this charming sweet shop on Balboa Island, which is linked by a short bridge to Newport Beach. Choose from Oreo, Reese's, Butterfinger and Coconut Caramel coated apples after you enjoy a stroll around the Marine Avenue shopping district with its distinctly small town feel. Other Too Sweet options include chocolate gummy worms, chocolate Red Vines and chocolate dipped marshmallows. Too Sweet is one of several sweet shops serving Balboa Island's famous frozen banana and Balboa Bar, an ice cream treat. Stop by Tutti Frutti, which is connected by a large glass wall so patrons can see one another, for your choice of frozen yogurt.
Describing itself as the only floating Newport Beach restaurant, Hornblower Cruises offers a variety of dining cruises from champagne brunch to formal sit-down dinners with music and fine wine. The company also offers tours, including the chance to go aboard John Wayne's famous yacht, the Wild Goose, which is moored in Newport Harbor. There are also special holiday cruises for Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. For Thanksgiving, enjoy an on-board buffet, and for the Fourth of July, take in the harbor fireworks on the top deck accompanied by music and dancing with a live DJ.
With sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and its rocky outcroppings, Inspiration Point is the perfect place for a stroll, a wedding or watching the snorkelers and scuba divers below. The rock jetty forms the east entrance to Newport Harbor, and if you're lucky, you may catch sight of the occasional migrating whale in the distance. Located at the southeast end of Corona Del Mar State Beach, be sure to head down to the beach, just a short distance away and accessible by a connecting path, for a splash in the surf or a stroll down this stretch of southern California coast.
Make like you're kids again and frolic in this iconic American playground. Don't miss being spooked in the New Orleans-style Haunted Mansion, which is uniquely different from Walt Disney World's version, and see where everything Disney originated in this delightful park for all ages. Hop a ride together on the Disneyland Railroad, reminisce and sing along on It's a Small World, and bounce along with Tigger on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The Blue Bayou Restaurant is definitely romantic with its mossy trees and glowing lanterns set in the New Orleans bayou underneath a hauntingly blue night sky.
Chef Marc Johnson combines flavors from around the globe, as well as those from the American South to create imaginative dishes from locally-sourced foods. Sample entrees include Pesto-Crusted Salmon, Cioppino and Roasted Lamb Chops. Sunday Brunch is also popular at Oak Grill with selections including Pancake Souffle, Belgian Waffles and Chilaquiles. Located inside the elegant Island Hotel Newport Beach, Oak Grill has an extensive wine list with 50 California wines by the glass, as well as a robust program of mostly craft beers. Weekly events include live music by the fire pit under the restaurant's lovely outdoor patio and Street Taco Tuesday.
Cruise around Newport Harbor in a variety of vessels available from Balboa Boat Rentals. Choose from kayaks, stand up paddleboards, pontoon boats, pedal boats and the popular Duffy Electric Boat. Even if you don't have boating experience, you can still rent an easy-to-maneuver Duffy Electric Boat invented at Newport Beach. The boats cruise at 5 knots and hold a charge for six hours. They even come with a dining table and a stereo with iPod connection. It's a unique way to see this beautiful coastline of California all by powering your own boat. Keep an eye out for sea lions!
With sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, the five-star, five-diamond Resort at Pelican Hill offers more than 120 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom villas and more than 200 guest rooms with private terraces. Set on 500 acres, the resort features two Tom Fazio-designed courses with ocean vistas. Known for its Coliseum Pool, featuring tiered decks and cabanas and one of the largest circular pools anywhere, the resort also has several world-class restaurants and a five-star spa. With Italian architecture and a lush Mediterranean landscape, the Resort at Pelican Hill is a luxury experience befitting this beautiful section of the southern California coast.
Treat your loved one to a gondola ride for two through Newport Harbor and its quaint canals guided by your very own gondolier. Tradition dictates that couples kiss under every bridge and you can choose from specialty add-ons like chocolates, rose petals, champagne and more. Enjoy the views of some of the most expensive real estate in California as you cruise by yachts, including John Wayne's, and magnificent homes all while sea lions swim below. Pretend like you're a movie star from the Golden Age of Hollywood who loved to both vacation and live in this area – sunglasses, scarf and all.