Newport Beach:Balboa Peninsula and Island
Two piers are reached from the promenade: Newport (1,000 feet long) and Balboa. Balboa Pier is more wheelchair-friendly than many Southern California piers because its narrow metal handrails don't obstruct the view and the concrete surface makes for a comfortable ride.
Balboa Island, between the peninsula and the mainland, was once a mudflat surrounded by marsh. Now it is a small residential community with a tourist-oriented commercial district. It can be reached from the mainland via the bridge at Jamboree Street or the Balboa Ferry (a two-minute ride from the peninsula at Palm Street); taking the ferry saves a six-mile drive and the hassle of parking on the island. You can drive your car onto the ferry, but the line can take an hour or more; pedestrians typically board within a few minutes. Depending on the tide, a step may be required to board the boat; a portable ramp is available but can be steep. From the ferry landing, you can take a trail either to the right or left to circle the island.
The Balboa Island Museum, in a small vintage cottage at 331 Marine Avenue, exhibits island memorabilia, including classic photographs that offer a glimpse into its history, founder, and influential residents. Narrow hallways may limit access.
Newport Balboa Promenade
Trailhead: Western end: 36th St. and W. Oceanfront. Eastern end: E St. and Balboa Blvd.
Length: Over 4 total miles
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Typical Grade: LevelThere's a steep incline at Newport Pier.
DescriptionThe eastern end of the oceanfront promenade begins at E Street, then travels nearly three miles up the peninsula to 36th Street. The smooth concrete pathway parallels the beach; along the way you will see some shops and restaurants, but mostly houses. The ocean is not always visible from the promenade, but you can see it from the piers or from one of the numerous sidewalks that extend from the promenade toward the water.
I started at Balboa Pier and traveled east for less than .5 miles before the trail ended. Meanwhile, my companion, wanting some exercise, bicycled west from the pier for 2 miles. Highlights of the trail include the historic Balboa Pier, constructed more than 100 years ago, and the Newport Pier, which overlooks a beautiful beach. To get out onto Newport Pier, at 21st Place, you must negotiate a steep slope at its foot; you can use handrails on the eastern edge of the slope to help pull yourself up. Depending on the time of year, this popular trail can be very busy, so be prepared for slow going.
Balboa Island Promenade
Trailhead: Agate Ave. and S. Bay Front (ferry terminal)
Length: 1-2 total miles
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Typical Grade: Level
DescriptionA nearly two-mile-long promenade travels the perimeter of Balboa Island, although it is interrupted by stairs in a few spots, so wheelchair riders will need to navigate some side streets. If you want to go directly from the ferry to downtown (Marine Avenue), where you will find galleries, shops, restaurants, and the Balboa Island Museum, you’ll have to navigate via city sidewalks. From the ferry, I turned left onto the promenade and followed it past charming cottages and beautiful beachfront homes, some with private docks where large and small yachts were moored. It was mid-October and there appeared to be a competition underway for the best Halloween decorations; I had never seen such elaborate decorations on so many homes in one place. Every few blocks is a bench where you can pause to watch wildlife or simply enjoy the sunset. In places a low wall separates the walkway from bits of sandy shore.
About .75 miles from the ferry landing you'll encounter stairs at the Marine Avenue bridge. Turn around and take the first alley, then an immediate left to reach Marine Avenue. You can cross Marine and reconnect to the promenade, or cruise the shops and eateries that line the avenue, as I did before reconnecting to the promenade at Park Avenue. You can also stroll the length of Marine Avenue and pick up the trail where the street dead-ends, continuing along the southern side for another mile back to the ferry terminal.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Beach Wheelchair: YesAvailable on a first-come, first-served basis at the lifeguard headquarters at the foot of Newport Pier; 949-644-3177.
Accessible Parking: YesOn the peninsula: Free accessible spaces are in the lots serving Peninsula Park at A and B Sts., and at the Balboa Pier metered lot at Palm St. Several city lots along the beachfront have accessible parking that's half-price for those with a disabled parking placard. Metered street parking is also available.On Balboa Island, a designated accessible space is at the corner of Marine and Park. List of city lots.
Accessible Restroom: YesAlong the promenade at Balboa Pier, Newport Pier, and 15th St.; there are no stall doors.
Features icon key
- Beach Wheelchairs Available
- particularly good for families
|Managing Agency:||City of Newport Beach|
|Hours:||Newport and Balboa Piers: 5 am-midnight. Beach: 6 am-10 pm. Museum: Wed. and Fri.-Sun., 10 am-4 pm. Piers: 6 am-10 pm.|
|Dogs:|| In restricted areas|
No dogs allowed on beaches 9 am-5 pm. Newport Beach: No dogs on beach 10 am-4:30 pm; at all other times they must be on leash. Allowed on leash on the promenade at all times.
|Public Transportation:||Orange County Transportation Authority|
Reviewed by Jarred Evans, February 7, 2013
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