Marina Park in the Newport Beach on the Balboa Peninsula is the first harbor-side playground on the Peninsula. There is already Peninsula Park playground at the Balboa Pier and the smaller 38th Street Park and Newport Island Park, but I predict Marina Park will serve as a community hub for its location near the Balboa Fun Zone and upscale feel.
Directions to Marina Park in Newport Beach: The park is on the Newport Peninsula. There are so many ways to get here, but the 55 Freeway essentially dead-ends into Newport Peninsula. So it’s up to you whether you reach the 55 from the 73 Tollroad, Interstate 405, Interstate 5 or Pacific Coast Highway. Just get on the 55 and take it all the way to the beach. The cross streets on the Peninsula are numbered and they go from higher numbers to lower numbers. You are looking for 18th Street – where you will turn left into the parking lot or where there’s beachfront parking. (Address: 1600 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach) MAP TO MARINA PARK IN NEWPORT BEACH
- The nautical feel of this park and beachside location is a huge draw!
- There’s a HUGE lighthouse structure which serves as a restroom building (bottom level) and access to the fun red tunnel slide with a view (upper level).
- Easy, central location that’s a good home base for long walks on the Peninsula.
- I call the centerpiece of the park “Pelican Pier” which has a pelican statue looking over things and a fishing pole set up for the catch of the day.
- All the play equipment has a sail or sail-like quality to it. There’s a big half circle rope climber “spiderweb.”
- Besides the big tunnel slide from the lighthouse, the playground is perfect for toddlers and young children. It all feels very low to the ground.
- Easy to see the kids from all angles. On the day I visited, a lot of the parents parked themselves up on the lighthouse and watched the kids from up there.
- Benches to sit and watch the kids.
- Exercise circuit and half-court basketball.
- This park has a restroom! It’s hidden on the bottom floor of the lighthouse.
- Large lawn for running around and provides a good buffer from the busy Balboa Blvd.
- Nearby Lighthouse Cafe is run by the founders of Ruby’s Diner and Beachcomber – it has outdoor seating with a view of the harbor.
- Traffic is very heavy and parking is a challenge during the summer. So get here early and stay all day!
- The ocean is very close and water is drowning hazard for small children. I used to work as a YMCA lifeguard and know that it only takes a moment for you to lose sight of your child. Be EXTRA vigilant and remind yourself to keep your eyes on your toddlers and preschoolers at ALL times at this park. Pretend YOU are the lifeguard (because you are!).
- Remember to bring your credit card to feed the parking meters.
- No swings.
- Dedicated lot with pay parking – so make sure you bring your credit card.
- Play surface: Sand and recycled rubber.
- Restrooms are sneakily hidden on the bottom level of the lighthouse!
- Two shaded picnic areas right on the park.
- Two basketball half-courts near the parking area.
- Fitness circuit around the path at the park
- Grab a fresh picnic on your way to the park at Sessions West Coast Deli
- OC Register story on the park’s opening in December 2015 with timeline and details on the build
- Official City of Newport Beach website with information on how to make reservations
- Nearest public library branch: Balboa Branch or Mariner’s Branch of the Newport Beach Public Library system
Photo credit: Thanks to reader, Diane, for allowing me to use a couple photos of this park with her kids on the spiderweb and monkey bars.