Visiting Balboa Island with Kids

Ready to have a picture perfect, magical day with the family? If you’re in Orange County I highly reccomend a visit to Balboa Island. Visiting Balboa Island with kids is a no brainer. There is seriously so much to do! There’s great food, it’s completley walkable, safe, charming, historic and beautiful!

When we were considering moving to Orange County, my very first spot I wanted to check out was Balboa Island! I was excited to see the famous Banana Stand from the hit show Arrested Development. After we moved there, I visited the island almost daily. I have such fond memories bringing my son to the beach and watching him learn to walk on the sand, and playing on the waveless beaches. I absolutley loved going on a walk around the entire island and gazing at the stunning and sometimes historic homes.

For my birthday one year, I rented a Duffy Boat (more on that later!) and invited some of my closest friends for a sunset birthday dinner. It was super fun riding along the bay (thanks to my husband for driving us!) and checking out some beautiful scenery during the sunset and seeing the incredible houses along the water. This night we announced our pregancy to our friends and right after saw fireworks on the water! It was such a dreamy experience and night!

I truly have such great memories at this place and I am so excited to share my guide on visiting!

If you’re planning on Visiting Balboa Island with Kids, here’s everything you need to know and a list of things to do!

Spending a Day on the Beach at Balboa Island with Kids

One thing many people don’t realize about Balboa Island, is that all of the beaches are open to the public! While most of the piers are privately owned, all beaches are open for everyone to enjoy! I really loved taking my young toddler here because the waves are minimal to none. Each beach is seperated by the small piers so it was easy to keep track of my son. The sand is clean for playing and of course we love watching all the boats go by while sitting on the shore. So many of the beaches in Orange County can become very crowded on warm days, but the beaches on Balboa Island were almost always empty!

Getting a Balboa Bar – A Treat Kids Will Love!

Ready for a little history lesson? The first thing you will see when driving onto the main street when getting onto Balboa Island are two dessert shops both saying home of The Original Frozen Banana. Theres “Sugar & Spice” & “Dads” Which is better to go to? Well after some research I’ve learned is “Sugar & Spice” is home of The Original Frozen Banana while “Dads” is home of the original Balboa Bar! Both are absoltuely delicious but I’ve always prefered the topping options at Sugar & Spice! This is an absolute must visit when visiting Balboa Island with Kids!

happy family during family photo session in orange county by photographer mattie taylor

Walking the Island

Everyone loves a free activity, and walking is the best in my book! I never got tired of walking around the entire island. It’s a paved boardwalk thats flat so very accessible for everyone. I loved the views of the bay to my left and the beautiful houses to my right. Such a nice place to walk with kids!

Riding the Balboa Ferry With Kids

Do your kids love boats like mine do? For only $.50 per child and $1.25 you can ride the ferry across the bay! This is honestly such a fun and affordable activity! The ride is short, and takes you one way across the bay over to Balboa Peninsula. More information about Balboa Peninsula in the next section! a whole other post worthy, but there are carnival rides games, food, treats and just a few streets away from the Newport Beach Coast and Newport Beach Pier!

Balboa Peninsula

The Balboa Peninsula is a beautiful area located across the bay from Balboa Island in Newport Beach, California, it’s known for its long stretch of white sandy beaches, ocean views, and a wide range of recreational activities. Here are some things you can do during a visit to the Balboa Peninsula:

  • Beaches: The Balboa Peninsula offers miles of pristine beaches, including Newport Beach, Balboa Beach, and the Wedge, which is famous for its huge waves that attract surfers from around the world.
  • Balboa Fun Zone: The Balboa Fun Zone is a popular attraction for visitors of all ages, featuring an arcade, carnival rides, and waterfront restaurants.
  • Newport Pier: Visit the historic Newport Pier, which offers stunning ocean views, fishing opportunities, and a range of dining options.
  • Water sports: The Balboa Peninsula is a great destination for water sports enthusiasts. You can go surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and jet skiing, or take a boat tour of the harbor.
  • Dining: The Balboa Peninsula offers a wide range of dining options, from beachside cafes to upscale restaurants. You can enjoy fresh seafood, local cuisine, and international flavors.
  • Sunsets: The Balboa Peninsula is known for its breathtaking sunsets. Head to the beach, grab a spot on the pier, or take a harbor cruise to watch the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean.

Window Shopping

There is no shortage of adorable shops when on Balboa Island. While you’re walking to get your Balboa Bar or Frozen Banana, check out some of the great locally owned shops lining Balboa Islands main street. You’ll find clothing, kids stores, restaraunts, art galleries and souvenir shops!

Renting a Duffy Boat on Balboa Island

Some of my very happiest memories have happened on a Duffy Boat! I love renting a boat for a special occasion or for some memorable family time! Unfamiliar of what a duffy is? It’s a relaxing electric boat that coasts you through the bay. They usually fit 8-12 people. I highly reccomend going through Voyagers Rentals. Their location is right on the island and easy to find. Their staff is very helpful teaching you how to drive the boat. I love the map they give you of the bay for you to check out!

siblings having fun on the beach in orange county by family photographer mattie taylor

I hope you have an incredible day Visiting Balboa Island with your kids! Life is all about making memories and I think Balboa Island is a great family friendly place to do so!

As a Orange County Family Photographer, I would love to photograph your family! Contact me today to hear more about my family sessions!

Be sure to check out my other Orange County guides!

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