Destination: Balboa Island, California
Date: March 2014
Activity: Visiting the banana stand and midway games
“There’s always money in the banana stand” is one of my favorite lines from Arrested Development. Of course any of you who follow the show know that young George Micheal runs his grandfathers chocolate banana stand on Balboa Island and unbeknownst to the young manager the walls of the banana stand are stacked with cash. Its even funnier when the banana stand is set on fire thinking it is the insurance money that the grandfather was referring to, but that’s a whole episode of laughs that I’ll leave you to watch. Since following the show I was excited to go out and experience Balboa Island for myself.
On our recent trip to California my husband, kids and my son’s friend “M” and I all headed out to see what the fuss was all about. We were advised not to drive over to the island but instead park our van in a bank/doctors office building and walk over the bridge onto the peninsula. From there we walked the short 10-15 blocks over to the ferry and ferried across leaving our big twelve passenger van behind. With the limited supply of parking it was a smart idea plus it gave us the opportunity to enjoy the great weather and perfect day for a walk.
Our first stop was to the “Original Frozen Banana Stand” established in 1945, right there on the peninsula part of Balboa. It was right on the main street front the bridge and the kids were excited to try their first chocolate dipped banana. Of course anything dipped in chocolate and given the option of being rolled in sprinkles, cookie crumbs, or any kind of delicious topping is sure to be good. Eight banana’s later we had a very happy group with a few smudges of chocolate on faces and clothes to join us for the day.
Once we hit the waters edge we turned right toward the Balboa island ferry that would eventually take us over to the island. Like I said before this was a great idea and I was pleased with the concierge back at the Newport Marriott who advised us to do it. The houses that faced the marina were quaint and beautiful and not one was like the other. We admired the architecture, looked out at the boats in the marina, and dreamed of owning one of these beach front homes one day!
When we arrived at the ferry it cost us a dollar each to gain access. The kids had never ridden on a working ferry before so that was exciting to see cars loaded onto a boat and motored across the channel. We enjoyed the ten minute ride and soon found ourselves at the “Fun Zone” of Balboa Island. This was magical for any kid! We gave each of them $10 to enjoy as they would, but told them once they were out of money there would be no more. They quickly became misers looking over every game and ride with much speculation on which would bring them the most pleasure. Trent and I quickly sat down at an out door table of a burger place and enjoyed fresh lemonade and fries as we watched the kids choose their pleasure.
Most of my kids quickly ran into the arcade to lose all other money in exchange for tickets among typical arcade games. Only Bailey decided to spend all $10 in one place and she saved it for the anti gravity swing. She didn’t do it right away however and watched all the kids squander away their money in the arcade and once it was all gone she had the crew follow her out to watch her jump and twist in the air on the swing. Of course this made the little kids jealous and they begged for more money, but of course we stuck to our guns and only Bailey had the enjoyment of that ride that day.
After about two hours the kids had had their fill of the games, watching others on rides, and filling their tummies with fries. It was time to head back to the ferry and take our ride back across the channel and hike back to the car. I’m positive we missed much of what Balboa had to offer but the part we did experience turned out to be a lot of fun! We were ready however to get to the beach and enjoy the rest of the day in the sun and sand. Because really… at the end of the day isn’t that what the California coast is really all about?!?!
Safe and Fun Travels!!!