Balboa Fun Zone. You gotta love Newport, keeping its fun in specially marked zones. This one has the requisite merry-go-round, Ferris wheel and bumper cars, as well as a video arcade and a gyro stand. And it's got Skeeball. Skeeeeeeball! 600 E. Bay Ave., (949) 673-0408.Balboa Island Ferry. At 50 cents per passenger, this has to be the cheapest boat ride around. Cars extra. And please note that fantasy-steering the ferry with your car's steering wheel is unbelievably lame. 13th Street Basketball Courts. The courts are on the beach right next to Newport Beach Elementary School. Play here only if you don't mind getting distracted by the beautiful, bikini-clad women who enjoy sunning themselves nearby. Also be warned that spectacular sunsets blazing over the water are known to occur in the early evening hours. Thirteenth Street and Balboa Boulevard.
Newport Beach Public Library, Balboa Branch. This tiny branch library sits next to the fire station on the Balboa Peninsula and boasts one of the largest nautical reference holdings in the state of California, including books, magazines, videos and audiocassettes. 100 E. Balboa Blvd., (949) 717-3800. Illustration by Bob Aul
The Sandalman. Actually two guys who have been making and selling some of the best beach sandals since the late 1970s. I've been buying them for years, and they are very comfortable. Plus I always feel slightly better slipping these on instead of a pair of cheap Kmart or expensive Nike sandals since I know they weren't made by Chinese prison laborers . . . unless these guys are hiding something in those crates they keep in the back of their shop. 511 Superior Ave., (949) 642-8455. (Art Gardner, Huntington Beach)