Hey hey! How’s your week going? It’s been raining and cold for almost a week, which is a rare case here in Arizona. At first it felt like a fun adventure, but by Day #3 I was ready to go outside and play ball with the kids haha! All this time I kept reminiscing about our girls getaway trip to sunny California last month and realized I promised to share with you about my kid-free adventures and why Balboa is the best place to ride beach cruisers. So here it is.
Don’t laugh but in all three years I lived in California, I never had a chance to ride a beach cruiser. What can I say? When you live near the beach you kind of take it for granted. At least I did.
It’s easy to fall in love with cruising on a bike along the gorgeous So Cal coast line. Venice Beach just South of L.A. is probably the most popular spot because of ample opportunities for people watching. You never know what you’re going to see: a Hollywood star, Baywatch filming in session, a movie awards ceremony, paparazzzi… That’s what you call the ultimate Californian experience.
Balboa Island where we went that day offers a more relaxed, less extravagant vibe with lots of mom and pops shops, restaurants and an endless line of beach front condos along the way. It’s located in Orange County and serves as a mid point between L.A. and San Diego.
Our ride from Hyatt Regency Newport Beach where we rented bikes to Balboa took about 10 minutes. Once you cross the little bridge just West of Pacific Coast Highway, the change of scenery takes you by surprise. In an instant, you transform from wide four lane roads and lavish palm trees near the resort to the cute little red brick buildings and narrow streets filled with tourists.
Balboa Island has a beautiful cozy downtown feel of a beach city. It’s a perfect place to soak in salty air, browse local shops, and savor local treats. We felt very lucky to find Juice Crafters at the very beginning of our trip. It’s a juice bar serving fresh cold pressed juices, wellness shots and smoothies. We decided a little snack was in order before a long ride along the coast.
I was dying to get their Acai bowl, but we were planning on lunch at the end of our trip. So instead we opted for freshly pressed juice. My green goddess drink was a beautiful blend of spinach, kale, ginger, parsley, cucumbers and lemon. My friend went for a warming carrot ginger mix.
We sat at the marina, sipped on our juice and reminisced on good old times. Fueled up on fresh vitamins, we hopped on our bikes and continued the journey.
One of the highlights was crossing the marina on a ferry. It was rather small, with space for about 5-6 cars and pedestrians. The entire ride took less than 5 minutes, but it was such a unique experience!
Next to the docking station there was a crowded carnival area with all kinds of rides, restaurants and other fun activities. We kept straight pass the crowds and quickly found the beach.
The weather was perfect: warm sun was just right and the ocean breeze kept us cool. We went slow enjoying the views and chatting up about things along the way. Besides the beach, the main attraction were the beach condos of all shapes and sizes, style ranging from cozy classic to modern minimalist. Floor to ceiling windows allowed an easy peek inside. Many people were lounging in their front yards oblivious to beach cruisers passing them just feet away.
Our destination on Balboa was Dory Deli at the North end of Balboa Island, as recommended by the amazing hotel concierge.
Dory’s is your ultimate happening spot, with relaxed ambiance of a beach bar. It was packed with tourists and locals, patio facing the ocean, relaxing music in the background and big screen TV’s next to the bar.
The food was quite impressive as well. We were happy to find several healthy options on the menu. I had the Lifeguard Club with smoked turkey, bacon, avocado, tomato, fresh greens, and mayo on squaw bread. My friend went for Seared Ahi Salad on a bed of mixed greens, ginger-carrot dressing, Hijiki seaweed, cucumbers, candied ginger.
On the way back we watched the sun setting at the horizon. It was so peaceful and relaxing! I couldn’t help but wish we had more time to spend here.
Our final stop before heading to the hotel was The Original Frozen Banana. The concierge mentioned it was a popular local spot and a must-see attraction. The shop serves – you guessed it – frozen bananas dipped in toppings of your choice: hot chocolate, shaved chocolate, sprinkles, chopped nuts, etc. It was quite unique and tasty and a perfect way to end our fun day on the beach.
If you ever find yourself in Newport Beach, I strongly recommend to make a stop here.
We finished our dessert and rode the bikes back to hotel just in time before it got dark. Rentals shop closes at 3:30 PM, but the hotel staff kindly allowed us to drop off the bike in the lobby later so we could fully enjoy our day of adventures on the Island.
We looked back and realized we were riding and exploring Balboa Island for almost 5 hours. Such an amazing and memorable day!
As much as I appreciate being a stay at home mom, sometimes the mundane tasks get to me. I’m learning that taking little breaks and unplugging from daily chores is so important for your physical and emotional health. We don’t have any other vacations planned in the near future, but the memories of this fun weekend will carry me over during cold gloomy days like today.
My stay at home moms, how do you cope when all the laundry and dishes get too much? What are your emotional and creative outlets?
Hope you have a wonderful day!