Everyone thinks of the Newport Beach Civic Center Park as the place with the white bunny sculptures. But when I think of Newport Beach, I think of sailing and the ocean. Even their city seal sports sails, fish, and the ocean. So that’s why it makes sense that the architecture of the Newport Beach Civic Center and Park (NBCC) should match that vision. The roofline looks like waves and when I walk into the park the paths wind and turn in a natural rolling motion.
I can see how the blue bridges match the color of blue skies and the blue Pacific. Pops of color from the sculpture gardens dot the landscape.
In reading up on the circle of white bunnies with different color eyes, I found out that this is actually the “children’s play element” designed by the architects who built the park.
Don’t get me wrong, it fits better than a big plastic playground. But, white bunnies? They kinda freak me out. The welcome section of the app says that the park is supposed to “reflect the City’s coastal location and heritage.”
Don’t you think whale flukes, dolphins jumping, or even mini-sailboats make for better play elements than the “Sculpture Bunny Family?” One of the rabbits is 8 feet tall! But who am I to argue with such an Instagram-worthy spot? But over the years, it’s started to grow on me.
Location of Newport Beach Civic Center Park: Right near the entrance to Fashion Island off MacArthur Boulevard — sitting in a strip between Avocado and MacArthur in Newport Beach. (Address: 100 Civic Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA) MAP TO NEWPORT BEACH CIVIC CENTER PARK
Read up on the artists: Sculpture in Civic Center Park Exhibition
- It’s a lovely spot for families to combine a trip to the library with a walk in the park. The park feels expansive with 15 acres and over a mile of walking trails.
- Bring a picnic for the many places to sit and eat on the grounds.
- The park has some unusual elements to discover, like a long and windy picnic table and a “bird blind” that looks like a caged bridge (when it’s, in fact, supposed to hide pedestrian movement from the birds).
- Dog lovers will be happy to learn about the first dog park in Newport Beach (located north of San Miguel Road)
- Photographers will find this an awesome spot for photo walks
- Environmentalists will be interested in the sustainable building practices which included a huge stormwater treatment design incorporated into the wetlands
- There’s actually an App for this place! Here’s a link to the MyNB app which has a sculpture exhibit walking tour.
- Awesome location to bring out-of-town visitors because it seems uniquely Southern Californian with views of the ocean spanning all the way out to Catalina Island and San Clemente Island.
- Close to coffee, restaurants, and even Corona Del Mar State Beach or Sherman Library Gardens.
- It’s a peaceful place, but there’s still a considerable amount of road noise from MacArthur.
- We went on a Sunday afternoon when it wasn’t that busy — I imagine it’s a different scene during the week when you might have to fight a little harder for parking.
- No traditional playground, but kids will enjoy wandering the trails.
- Free parking for in the structure off Civic Center Drive (more parking on the other side of the library near shops). You can also park near the dog park along Avocado where there are spaces reserved for park use.
- Restrooms inside the library
- Newport Beach Public Library Central Branch official website (check hours before you go)
- Friends of the Library bookstore inside to find some treasures, although not a huge selection for kids
- Bistro 24 Express Cafe inside library menu – only open M-F
- Corona Del Mar Plaza is at the corner of PCH and Avocado and Fashion Island has its own eating options
- Recommend bringing your own picnic from home
- Stroller-friendly trails and an elevator to get you up on the bridge that goes over San Miguel