Archives For Parks

Marina Park in Newport BeachIf you’ve spent any time in Newport or Balboa recently then you may have noticed the gorgeous new park that just opened between Newport Beach and Balboa Peninsula. It may surprise you, however, to learn that Marina Park actually sits right on Balboa Bay and is an ideal spot to take babies, toddlers, and big kids for a day at the beach!

Marina Park 2


  • Nautical-themed playground equipment.
  • Lighthouse slide with gorgeous views of the bay from the top. There was a sea lion swimming around the day we were there.
  • Educational information about the ocean and the role that humans play incorporated into the play structures.
  • The playground is right on the water so kids can easily divide their time between the water and playground.
  • Super calm water that is perfect for little ones that may be afraid of waves at other beaches. We spoke with the employees at the Community Center and they assured us that the water in the bay is clean and safe for kids.
  • There are four shaded picnic tables, two unshaded picnic tables, and a few benches around the playground. Or you can eat on the beach like we did!
  • Kids and adults can play basketball or participate in the fitness circuit around the Community Center.
  • Eat at the the Lighthouse Cafe in the community center for breakfast or lunch. The menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, and other delicious entrees.

Marina Park

Know before you go:

  • There are clean public bathrooms located in the lighthouse.
  • There is a shower right next to the lighthouse to rinse the sand off your kiddos.
  • Even if you don’t plan on having your kids go in the water bring a change of clothes… we saw a few kids run into the water fully clothed. It’s just so tempting!
  • Make sure you watch your children carefully… there are no lifeguards and little ones can make their way to the water quickly!
  • Bring towels, beach toys, beach chairs, and an umbrella because the park is right on the beach.
  • If you are looking for more of a “traditional beach” with waves you can walk across Balboa Blvd. and find a great one by the pier.
  • There’s a ton of construction happening in the area so be prepared for additional traffic on top of the typical beach traffic.

Working out at the Marina Park


1600 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, CA, 92663

Parking Information:

  • Plenty of nearby parking. There’s a large paid parking lot at the Community Center at Balboa Blvd. and 16th Street, a small lot on W. Balboa Blvd and 18th Street, additional parking around the corner on 18th Street along the bay. Parking at these locations is $1.75 per hour and you may not pay for fractions of an hour. The pay stations require you to input your license plate (or part of your VIN) and they do accept credit cards (including Amex).
  • Free street parking is available in areas along W. Balboa Blvd or smaller streets in the area. Depending on how much stuff you’re carrying you may be more or less motivated to pay for parking!


Marina Park 3

Kelly Rafter
Blog Contributor

About the Author
Kelly and her husband have two little boys, ages 3 and 5. She loves taking her boys on adventures around Southern California that focus on learning, getting their wiggles out, and having fun! When she isn’t fulfilling her mommy duties she teaches at a local community college and is an educational consultant.

courtneys-sand-castleAfter only one visit Courtney’s Sandcastle has quickly become a place my daughter has been begging to go back to. Kids love it because there are a variety of things to do and parents love it as it is gated. With rock walls to climb and sensory gardens to explore, mock tide pools to investigate, and musical instruments to play, this is definitely a magical playground! Pack a picnic and head to San Clemente to burn off some energy while discovering this wonderful park.

Know before you go:

  • This park can get warm. There is one area with a tarp over it designated for shade. There are also three picnic tables that are shaded.
  • There is a tide pool and kids can get a bit daring walking around the outside of it and some even go in it. I suggest children wear waterproof shoes and perhaps even bring a change of clothes and a towel if you think your kid may decide to get wet.
  • There is also a water feature in the sensory garden that can cause children to get wet.
  • I arrived at 10:30 am on a Saturday and it was quite busy. By 11:30 am it had cleared out considerably.


  • Gated!
  • Big kid area designed like a castle and small kid play area like a pirate ship
  • Swings for both little and big kids
  • Sand area with diggers
  • Play surface is rubber
  • Tide pool
  • Designated shade area
  • Covered picnic area
  • Sensory garden with water feature and seating
  • Restrooms
  • Across from Target!


987 Avenida Vista Hermosa San Clemente, CA 92673
(located in the Vista Hermosa Sports Park & Aquatics Center)


6:00 am to 10:00 pm daily

How to get there:

I suggest that if you are coming from the north and have access to Antonio Parkway you take that route. You can follow Antonio all the way south past Rancho Mission Viejo where it turns into the newly opened La Pata. Once you hit Vista Hermosa you will take a right where you will see Target on the right and the sports park on the left. There is plenty of free parking and you can’t miss Courtney’s Sandcastle.  It’s the gated playground located right next to the Aquatics Center.

If you prefer the freeway take Interstate 5 until you hit Vista Hermosa. From there head inland and you will see the park which is across from Target and right before you hit La Pata.

There are a few gates in which you can enter. One will open next to the aquatics center and is right in front of the bathrooms. The other opens by the sensory gardens.

Melanie Beckman
Blog Contributor

About the Author:
Melanie is a stay at home mom of an almost four year old adorable but sassy little girl and a handsome six month old boy. She and her husband have lived in Southern Orange County for four years and love exploring all the area has to offer.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Take the kids to visit the Baker Ranch Community Park in Lake Forest, one of our favorite playgrounds! What to expect: a long tube slide, chess boards, rock wall, terrific structures, artificial grass which is great for allergies. Perfect for kids of all ages. My kids are not fans of playgrounds, but they definitely love this one!


  • new park opened in May 2014
  • very long tube slide that you can’t find anywhere else
  • rock wall
  • chess boards
  • mini tables
  • two separate terrific play structures, one for kids ages 2-5 and one children 5-12.
  • sand area
  • basketball court, softball field
  • lots of grassy area
  • lots of tables, shaded BBQ areas, great for parties
  • this park will definitely entertain older kids
  • restrooms
  • lots of parking spots
  • the grass area underneath the playground structure is artificial grass to help with allergies
  • great view

Be Aware:

  • No swings


Baker Ranch Community Park, 26380 Rancho Parkway South, Lake Forest, CA 92630. If you have hard time to map it, look for it between Alton and Bake Pkwy.