I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Orange County on my first visit last March. The sun, the food, the endless places to go walking, the coffee…yum.
Ellen Bell of OC Day Tripper deserves a huge shout-out for helping me fall in love with this place. Early in my trip, I spent the day with Ellen and a group of bloggers on her day tour of Balboa Island.
Ellen’s passion for Orange County was evident from the moment we met her and never wavered throughout the day. Balboa Island is a tight-knit community in Newport Beach. Our walk around the island took a little over an hour, including a stop at the local historical museum, but you could easily spend a week-long vacation there enjoying the water, the sun, and the frozen bananas. My favorite part of this tour was just strolling and taking photographs.
After our walk, we took the Auto Ferry across the harbor for lunch at the Lighthouse Cafe. The restaurant looks like an all glass lighthouse. You can enjoy a view of the bay from any table. But I suspect you’ll be a tad distracted by your plates of food because everything we ate was both beautiful and delicious.
We were treated to appetizers to share: Fried Calamari with chili orange sauce and Yachtsman Flatbread with goat cheese, bacon, and fig spread. Both were fabulous, but my favorite was the calamari. The chili orange sauce was a nice deviation from the usual marinara or lemon.
For my entree, I threw all healthy habits out the window so I could try the Short Rib Poutine. Such a good choice. It was crazy rich and impossible to finish, but I loved every bit I did eat. The runny egg on top made a tasty dip for the cheese curds.
When Ellen starts running this tour regularly, lunch will likely be the end of the trip. But because Ellen loves the OC and is so generous with her time she took us to see a beautiful view of Laguna Beach before saying good-bye. It was socked in with fog, but still beautiful and walking in this area was welcome after the heavy meal.
Have you been to Balboa Island? Tell me about your trip in the comments!