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OC Side Trip: Balboa Island

Gingerbread House sits on a private dock on Balboa Island, this Orange County jewel is decked out for the holidays (Photo Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Gingerbread House sits on a private dock on Balboa Island, this Orange County jewel is decked out for the holidays (Photo Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

If you find yourself heading to, or passing through, Orange County during your Southern California holiday travels, Consider a stop at Balboa Island.

Whether you have an hour or a day, this quaint seaside community offers comfortable weather, gorgeous views and festive decorations this time of year. This is a great pit stop if you are on a Southern California road trip and need to stretch you legs or grab a snack or bite to eat.

Rows & rows of one and two story beach houses stand shoulder-to-shoulder along narrow streets on the island, surrounded by a waterfront sidewalk along the Island’s perimeter. Park your car on any side street, and you can walk the circular path and easily return to your vehicle once you’ve had enough exercise.

Related photos & story : Balboa Island, CA USA

Along your holiday stroll, you’ll see homes and docks decorated with gingerbread men, Christmas Trees and other holiday decor.

gingerbread men, gingerbread house and a Christmas tree decorate a dock on Balboa Island, Newport Beach, CA

Waterfront homes & docks on Balboa Island in Newport Beach are decked out for the Christmas holidays (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Year round, keep an eye out for the Teddy Bear House, a home jam-packed with stuffed bears of all sizes. There’s also a tall Statue of Liberty perched on a dock, near an American Flag blowing in the breeze.  You’ll see boats and yachts of all sizes, paddle boarders and a ferry shuttling cars, cyclists and pedestrians to the carnival across the waterway on Balboa Peninsula.

Lady Liberty stands proudly on this Balboa Island private dock year-round. Just one of the sights to see as you stroll around the Island (Photo Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Lady Liberty stands proudly on this Balboa Island private dock year-round. Just one of the sights to see as you stroll around the Island (Photo Ken Pfeiffer Photography)

Balboa Island gets decked out for the holidays, with Christmas wreaths and decorations lining the bridge onto the Island and its main street (Park Avenue). I love being here around the Fourth of July, too, when the red, white and blue ribbons and decorations are on display.

My dad loved being at the beach and Balboa Island was one of his favorite places.  One of the last walks we took together was on Balboa Island. He was using a walker and the smooth sidewalks and flat terrain made for an easy stroll.  Keep Balboa Island in mind if you are looking for a quick side stop on your Southern California vacation. Happy Holidays!

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So Cal Chinese New Year Celebrations

South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is among the many So Cal venues welcoming in the Year of the Snake. (Photo: Traffic411)

The Chinese (Lunar) New Year rings in on Sunday (February 10, 2013). Los Angeles and Orange County are home to some of the highest populations of Asian residents in the nation. Here are a few places you can join the celebration welcoming in the year of the Snake.

Kids in Orange County can sample popular Chinese foods and learn about the Snake and other symbols in the Chinese Zodiac at Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine.

In the Torrance area, dancers in colorful costumes will perform at the South Bay Galleria, and 100 children will receive traditional red envelopes with cash ($2) inside. Read more

Disney California Adventure is hosting a Lunar New Year Celebration (Feb 8-13) offering cultural foods, music and dance performances, featuring popular Disney characters. Click for details.

Several upscale boutiques at South Coast Plaza in Orange County are adding Asian fashion and flair in honor of the Chinese New Year.  And, across Southern California, Starbucks and Target have been selling Year of the Snake themed gift cards. Read a round up of So Cal retailers celebrating the Year of the Snake.

The Year of the Snake comes around every twelve years.  You can tune-in to the energy of this Chinese symbol by listening to your intuition, and gracefully shedding old thoughts, beliefs, issues, as gently as a snake sheds its skin. Chinese astrology says people born during the year of the snake are wise thinkers who enjoy living well.

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Driving to Disney’s New Cars Land is a Bumper-to-Bumper Adventure

Driving to Disney's New Cars Land is a Bumper to Bumper Adventure

The opening of Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim, will make the nearby 5 freeway a busy commute for So Cal drivers.

The grand opening of Disney’s “Cars Land” in Anaheim promises real life gridlock on the nearby Santa Ana (5) freeway in the coming weeks.  Thousands of Disney fans and families will be vacationing in Anaheim this summer to be among the first to explore Disney’s newest attraction.

Based on the popular Disney-Pixar films, Cars Land is the crowning jewel of a $1 billion overhaul of Disney’s California Adventure theme park, located across the entrance to Disneyland.  A tribute to the glory days of Route 66 is also featured in the remodel, which demonstrates our long love affair with driving cars.  Disney officials are hoping that Cars Land will drive traffic to Disneyland’s sister park.  California Adventure hasn’t thrilled visitors much since it opened in 2001.

The Bill of Rights sails into Marina del ReyThe Bill of Rights, the stunning vessel that led the Bicentennial Celebration Ship Parade into New York Harbor in 1976 sails into Marina del Rey this week.  The 137 foot replica sailing ship built in 1971 will take groups of kids on sailing adventures on Thursday and Friday, and will dock at Fisherman’s Village for public tours through the weekend.

The Bill of Rights is the first tall ship to sail into Marina del Rey in six years.  Her arrival coincides with MarinaFest, a recreational boat show showcasing the latest in motor yachts, sailboats, fishing boats and family sport boats.  Visitors can get a close up look and tour the Bill of Rights, docked at Fisherman’s Village, on Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20.

Teen sailing sensation Abby Sunderland will be signing autographs, books and DVDs, and sharing stories about her quest to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.  You can find Abby during MarinaFest in Marina del Rey’s G Basin and Pier 44 Slips at the corner of Admiralty Way and Bali Way.

Read more about The Bill of Rights in Marina del Rey Patch

Image courtesy of American Tall

Marina del Rey

Marina del Rey is a ten minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) but, it feels like a world away. Travelers who have a 3+ hour layover at LAX can experience the So Cal lifestyle by taking in a waterside meal or walk. If you're into the boating lifestyle, Marina del Rey is terrific place to live or visit.

[img src=]1230Marina del Rey Sunset
[img src=]440Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey
Bring your own room. The Ritz Carlton offers room service to boaters docked at the hotel's slips!
[img src=]11940Marina City Club
This condo highrise is a landmark in Marina del Rey.
[img src=]260Ritz Carlton
The Ritz Carlton on the left, and a modern highrise apartment building on the right.
[img src=]230Marina del Rey
The view from the patio at Killer Shrimp.
[img src=]210Kayaker on Marina del Rey
The calm waters of the Marina is an ideal spot for kayakers.
[img src=]290Mothers Beach
[img src=]550Marina del Rey Harbor, ariel view
[img src=]2370The Bill of Rights sails into Marina del Rey
The Bill of Rights, a 137 foot replica vintage sailing ship, sails into Marina del Rey, CA on Wednesday, May 16th. The public can tour the Bill of Rights on Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, during MarinaFest 2012. Image courtesy of