Back Bay Science Center is open on Sundays for Community Days from 10am to 2pm — making it the perfect destination for a bike ride along Back Bay Drive (Mountains to Sea Trail & Bikeway) from Vista Point. It’s an open house style event with tanks to see and volunteers to help guide you through the Center’s exhibits.
Directions to Back Bay Science Center: When driving, take Jamboree towards Balboa Island – and past the Hyatt Newport– turn right onto Back Bay Drive as if you were going to Newport Dunes Resort but drive past it. Where the road dead ends, turn left into the Back Bay Science Center parking lot.
- Local high school students intern for research projects and interacting with the public. My kids really enjoyed interacting volunteers that were closer to their age.
- Going early means you might get the benefit of a foggy and cool bike ride. The sun came out when we were on our way back to the car.
- The Mountains to Sea Trailhead is at the entrance to the Back Bay Science Center.
- The inside tank with the octopus is always a highlight for me.
- Outside the touch tanks have a variety of sea creatures.
- Look for osprey flying outdoors and if you are lucky you might see a nest.
- Great birdwatching in the Back Bay estuary.
- This is more of a research facility than a tourist destination. It’s a great opportunity to see what’s happening in the bay, but don’t expect a museum-quality experience!
- Only open to the public on Sundays from 10am-2pm or for special events.
- The gates will close at 2pm, so make sure you don’t leave your car parked here.
- Most enjoyable for school age kids 5+
- If you do the bike ride or even walk/hike the Mountains to Sea Trail — be aware of cars which are allowed to drive one-way on the single lane road.
- Dedicated parking lot
- Nice restrooms
- Free admission on Community Days
- Even though this is the official trailhead, I suggest riding here on your bike from the Vista Point at Eastbluff and Jamboree. Then you don’t have to rush or worry about your car getting locked in the lot. The downside is that it’s far and there’s a bit of steep hill to start out your ride.
- If you only want to do a short ride with no hills, just bike the trail from the parking lot. It’s a completely flat ride if you don’t have to go up the hill near Eastbluff and you can turn around anytime.
- Official Newport Bay Conservancy website
- National Recreation Trail website with info on the Mountains to Sea Trail
- Official Back Bay Science Center website