Ice Cream, Ferryboats, and Other Good Old-Fashioned Fun Await You at Balboa Island and Peninsula

Something our family does a couple of times a year (at least) is head on down to Balboa Island and Peninsula for a Balboa Bar and Ferryboat Ride. While a ferryboat ride is pretty self-explanatory, you might ask what’s a Balboa Bar. Well, here’s a picture of one:

T made a "better choice" back in March 2010 by choosing to have this Balboa Bar.

To elaborate, a Balboa Bar is a vanilla ice cream bar on a stick dipped in chocolate and then covered with your choice of toppings: nuts, sprinkles, Heath Bar, Oreos, or a combination of all of those choices. While there are tons of stands to choose from (there’s quite a Balboa Bar and frozen banana competition down on the Island), we go to  Sugar ‘N Spice, and it’s been around since C’s mom was a little girl. C’s mom used to spend summers down on Balboa Island where his Great-Grandmother had a jewelry store back in the 60s and 70s, so easy to say Balboa Island and this stand is a family tradition, and one that we’re more than happy to keep alive. The bar will set you back around $3 a piece.

So, yeah, the drive to Newport is well-worth it for a $3 ice cream bar – or at least we think so!

Waiting on the Balboa Island side for the Balboa Auto Ferry.

After we enjoyed our ice cream bars (T with regret this visit got a scoop of ice cream, not a bar – which surprised us, but he said he’ll make a “better choice next time”), we headed over to the ferryboat. Up to three cars at a time, the boat takes visitors and commuters across to the Balboa Peninsula. It’s a short ride – not even five minutes across once you’re on board – and not that expensive either ($2 for car-and-driver; $1 each additional person; kids under 5 are free), and it makes T (and me) pretty darn happy. Simple pleasures, people!

T gets out of the car to enjoy the ferry ride and view of Balboa Peninsula.

Once on the peninsula, you can park and visit the Balboa Fun Zone for some rides and games. It’s your typical boardwalk-style Midway area complete with Ferris Wheel, Carousel, and arcade games. While we didn’t get out on this visit to play, we have before and definitely will next time.

A Ferris Wheel with a great view awaits you on Balboa Peninsula in the Fun Zone (taken March 2010).

So if you’re in the Newport Beach area of So Cal, especially on a weekday or not-as-perfect-weather weekend day, stop off at Balboa and visit its Island and Peninsula areas and discover this hidden gem. Just off Pacific Coast Highway (we take Jamboree in from the 405), it’s tucked away enough that even a So Cal native (such as myself) wouldn’t know it was there unless someone in the know tells you about it. Thankfully, I married someone in the know, and T was born into a family in the know as well. Yummy!