Sights, sounds of summer

As Memorial Day ushers in the unofficial start to summer, here's a look at events you can enjoy close to home.

May 26, 2007|By Jessie Brunner

Built in 1936, the Balboa Fun Zone has long been a summer destination for locals and visitors alike, and although this is the first year coastline cavorters will be without the bumper cars, Drummer Boy and the Scary Dark Ride, there is still plenty of fun to be had as Memorial Day kicks off the sunny season.

The Newport Harbor Nautical Museum made a new home for itself there in September, maintaining its devotion to the rich maritime culture of Newport Beach. In addition to the thousands of historical photos and dozens of model ships housed at the museum, a sport-fishing simulator was unveiled in March as well as a touch-tank full of sea creatures like bat stars, giant keyhole limpets and sea cucumbers to keep the hands and minds of youngsters engaged.

"Our goal is to make sure this portion of the village remains the drawing card that it is," museum executive director David Muller said.


The museum is preparing for summer with a new selection of surf films to play in the East Wing Learning Center — "Step into Liquid" and "Riding Giants" — and reservations are being taken for a Nautical Adventure Camp series designed for children ages 7 to 12.

Muller was particularly pleased to announce the upcoming arrival of a traveling Smithsonian exhibition celebrating 200 years of charting America's coasts — "From Sea to Shining Sea" — set to open on June 21.

"Building a relationship with the Smithsonian is a big step for us and an indication of where we hope to take the museum in the future," he said. "We are working hard to raise the quality of the museum to be at least equivalent to our peer institutions here in Orange County."

The Newport aficionado hopes visitors to the museum will also delight in the traditional summer pastimes of the area, such as a ride on the Ferris wheel, a chocolate-dipped ice cream bar or a round of Skee-Ball.

"The Balboa Village has so much to offer everybody, and they can experience old and new Newport all at the same time," he said. "The fun zone is a great place for people to spend the day, and it covers all ages from 3 to 93."

The Balboa Fun Zone is at 600 E. Bay Ave. The nautical museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. There is a $5 suggested donation for adults, and there's no charge for children 12 and under. For more information, go to  or call (949) 675-8915.

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