Last time Grandma Beep came to visit, we made our seasonal trek down to Balboa Island and Peninsula. Of course, we stopped at the island first for Balboa Bars, rode the ferry with the car over to the peninsula, played arcade games, and then hopped on the Ferris wheel. Good times. But we weren’t expecting or planning on was a terrific two-hour visit to the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum.
Located in the Balboa Peninsula’s “Fun Zone” area, the museum is in the midst of their public opinion phase of redevelopment review. To help visitors look into the museum’s future, the space is broken up into three separate entrances, two of which are free access areas.
The Newport Gallery and Steele Model Pavilion both feature several model-sized and actual-sized boats of all types that have been or currently are common to this area. Being a more traditional, historical, and in-depth (and hands-off) homage to boating in the Newport and Southern California area, these exhibits didn’t hold T’s interest for too long for the couple of times he passed through.
The Preview Center, as its name implies, is more of a welcome center for those wanting a sneak-preview of the museum’s actual redevelopment plan once it’s built. Blueprint sketches and 3D architectural models line the hall of this smaller exhibit, and a video running on endless loop highlights the bigger picture for the new museum space indoors and out (if approved, of course).
T ran through here a few times as well, but again without too much for him to put his hands on, it only held his four-year-old interest for so long (though the porthole photo opp and cool, misty wave curtain were both fun features for younger visitors).
So that left us with the third set of exhibits, the Sea of Adventure, which requires a small entrance fee. RMT’ers, ante up for this one; for just $9 for two adults and one child, there was plenty inside of this three-room space to keep T occupied for close to two hours.
Let’s start with this play-on sailboat. Now we heard from another parent that her child stayed aboard here for about a half-hour, but T had that kid way beat. The fact that kids are welcome to climb in and then onto the front of the boat to hoist and pull pretend sails was plenty keep T interested. Yeah, let’s just say it took a solid hour to get T off the pretend seas and back on real dry land so we could check out what else the museum had to offer.
Do you like tide pools? The Newport Harbor Nautical Museum does, too, so much in fact that they’ve got two touch tanks dedicated to these shallow coastal creatures. Grandma got to tickle the underside of a sea star, and T wanted to touch the crabs (which were a little hard to catch, so he settled for a sea star, too).
But wait, there’s more for the kids! On the first and third Wednesday of every month, the museum offers Sea Tales, a preschool educational program for ages two- to five-years-old. From 9:45am until 11am on those days, staff lead kids and parents in a lesson – complete with activities, crafts, songs, and stories – about a pre-selected topic. I noticed that the schedule shows a class coming up in March dedicated to pirates. Oh yeah, matey, we’ll be there… but will you? Argh! Fees for non-members are $5 (as of this post) per child-parent pair per class.
T already looks forward to setting sail again for the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum!