Newport Beach/Balboa Island Holiday lights 2013

One of many places to see the best lights in  Southern California is Newport Harbor and Balboa Island.

The annual Holiday Boat parade runs December 18 and ending Sunday, December 22, 2013. The
parade starts off Bay Island at 6:30 pm and finishes at the same site at approximately 9:00 pm each evening.

For more info:

Take the ferry across from the Balboa Peninsula and walk along the houses to admire the lights on each side.

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The ferries run in threes, three cars at a time, three ferries at a time, and about three minutes to get from one side to the other.

Balboa Peninsula and the Fun Zone can be seen from the water on one side of the ferry while the beautiful Newport Bay can be seen from the other.

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If driving into Balboa, you can also cross the bridge to the Island from Coast Highway.

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The bridge into Balboa Island, all decked out for the holidays

Stroll along the sidewalk that spans most of the island to view the beautiful homes and their impeccable decorations.

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The beautiful decorated homes on Balboa Island was a winner

Newport has an annual “Ring of Lights” contest  where homes are awarded prizes in different categories.

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If you look closely, this home had garland all through the house including the upstairs.

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An annual favorite, this houses spews snow every few minutes.

You can also see homes  across the bay with this beautiful home filled with millions of lights. A definite contest winner.

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Don’t just wait for the holidays to visit Balboa and Newport, there are plenty more things to do in both places. More later.


Huntington Beach

Took the coast home after a business meeting on a crisp and bright December day. Cruising through Huntington Beach I pulled over to take a few shots of the beach and pier. As you will notice from these pics the beach is abandoned unlike summer where Huntington is the hub of beach goers from the inland areas.

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Known as Surf City, it is home to 10 miles of sandy beaches and has a downtown area right across from the pier with plenty of shopping and dining. It is also known for it’s large surf contests so you can expect surf shops to be abundant in the downtown area and that they are. Jacks on the corner of PCH and Main St. has been there for years and features all the big surf brands.

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Huntington Beach has a long strand of sidewalk that stretches for miles with a view of the Pacific and Catalina 26 miles across the sea.

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The city also has a 365-acre Huntington Central Park filled with recreational activities: horseback riding, walking paths, a sports complex, and even a disc golf course. The restored Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Beach Wetlands is home to more than 200 bird species and is also a great place to take a leisurely stroll.

Named one of the country’s top 10 Dog-friendly places, Dog Beach is the perfect place to spend a few hours with your pooch. It spreads over a very large area and there is plenty of room for your dog to play.

For more info:

I have also been to the Wiener dog races in the Old World Village which holds monthly dachshund races and a weekly competition during September and October. Schedules are available on the Weiner Dog Store website.
Very funny to watch.

Huntington Beach is a great place to visit to shop, play in the water, walk your dog, bike, stroll, etc. For more info visit:

Marina Del Rey

Marina Del Rey is a seaside community in Los Angeles County, California with a pretty sizable harbor and a capacity for about 5,000 boats. It features a

Fisherman’s Village is a super quaint little area with colorful and Cape Cod looking buildings.  It features  shops and restaurants and rental places for boats, kayaks, and SUP’s.   Fishing trips are also available at :

I visited in November and it was pretty dead save for the outdoor restaurant at the end and a lively courtyard in the middle.

The courtyard was surrounded by other eating establishments, shops, and was filled with people enjoying an intimate concert of really good funk music.  The band was high caliber and  although it was a super gray ugly day,  people were dancing, drinking wine, and just enjoying the bay side.

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With the bright buildings, cobblestone paths, and the lighthouse, it felt like a stroll through New England, not Southern California.

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I will make a point of coming here is summer where I can pay in the sun, unlike this day which was on the verge of pouring down rain.

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I found it interesting that most of the residences along the harbor were either condos or apartments, no houses.  There are a few hotels along the harbor for any budget. A few are right on the harbor and a few have a beach right out front.

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Only a few miles away, you can visit  the eclectic Venice Beach and close to that is the Venice canals.

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There are also plenty of places to stroll on each side of the harbor and you can take your dogs too!

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All in all a great place to go for the day to take you away for a little while.  Visit this web site for more information.

Naples Canals and Alamitos Bay California

A little known area in the Long Beach area is the Alamitos Bay and Naples Canals. The first photos below are of Alamitos Bay with its wider channels and it’s entrance to the open sea. In the horizon you can see Catalina. This day happened to be a very warm day in December with one of the better sunsets of the year.

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Nestled a couple miles from Long Beach, the Naples canals are unlike the Venice canals because they are wider and deeper. More small to medium boats can travel in the canals.

Built on three islands located in Alamitos Bay, most of the streets on the island have Italian names. The center of Naples features a large fountain which serves as a popular meeting spot.

During the holidays the houses on the canals are lit up which reflects on the water and makes the area even more beautiful. I went on December 1st, so not all the houses were decorated yet but plenty had a vast array of decorations and lights.

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Each canal has a sidewalk so you can leisurely stroll and view the beautiful homes. Dogs are allowed on the walkway.

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Another way to view the canals is by a romantic or family Gondola ride. Check this link: This is one of only a few places in California where you can take a gondola ride through canals.

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I didn’t see one ‘For Sale’ sign and I can see why. You wouldn’t want to leave there. So peaceful and serene. I felt like telling everyone that was sitting on their porch how jealous I was but I held back.

In the channels of Alamitos Bay there where Christmas Tree barges set up about every 50 feet. Made the bay look magical.

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The buildings of Long Beach you will see below in the photos is just a few miles away but this area has a whole different atmoshere. I loved it there.

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Here is a link for things to do in that area including Long Beach:

In the Southern California area, a fun one day excursion.

More Alamitos Bay:

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Viejas Casino and Outlet Mall for the holidays.

Visited Viejas Casino and outlet mall this past weekend( November 30th)

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After 5:00 they have a water show that is amazing.  Moving to the sound of holiday music, the water program is elaborate and entertaining. It is a great kid attraction with intervals of fake snow coming from above.

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The outlet has all your favorite stores including Nike, The Gap, Tommy H, etc. Plus a food court including my fave Rubios as well as others. To get you further in the spirit and if you have the energy, they have an ice skating rink and a huge Christmas tree in the middle of the outlet.

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The entrance to the casino is right across the street from the outlets, so if you have any money left from spending at the outlets you can gamble all night if you wish.  Or is it the other way around?, if you have any money left from the casino you can spend at the outlet mall.  Or if you are really hungry, eat at their buffet or other fine restaurants.

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Visit for more information and directions. A great place to take the family or to get in the holiday spirit.