California Museums


Balboa Island Museum Newport Beach

Balboa Island Museum and Historical Society
 210 B Marine Ave.
Balboa Island, CA 92662
(949) 675-3952

Open Monday - Thursday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Friday -Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Closed: New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 4th of July
Admission: Free general admission on all days

Balboa Island Museum just keeps getting better. It has always been a fascinating visit as you gaze at displays that capture the essence of the vacation destination with a 100+ year history. Lots has changed, but not that much, really, as you discover that Balboa Island has always been a fun place. And the people who greet you inside the easy-to-find Marine Avenue space reflect that vibrance with their personalities and enthusiasm for local history.

The interesting past filled with marine activity, Hollywood personalities, surfing, fishing, a fun zone and old-fashioned downtown where golf carts can be seen parking next to Lamborghinis, all reflect the unique and treasured life on this manmade Newport Beach island.

Documented in photos, books, brochures, post cards, signage and a variety of fun displays, you can see that a swamp was transformed into the outrageously expensive land you're standing on. While some laughed when homes were listed for sale on the island in the early 1900s, strolls and chats with locals who have inherited the family cottage or island house tell a story of joy and happiness to be owning a piece of the island rock in this paradise.

Prior to 1906 much of what is now Balboa Island was under water at high tide, and was called Snipe Island. William S. Collins began dredging from 1905 to 1913, creating three sections--the main island, Little Balboa Island, and Collins Island (where Collins built his own famous castle). Lots sold for $300 to and $600. With no heaters, no electricity and outhouses for bathrooms, the houses were used in the summer, but left empty in the winter. To create a viable place to live, a deal was made for Newport Beach to annex Balboa Island in 1916 and provide much needed services.

While the island has direct access to Pacific Coast Highway, Balboa Ferry offers another option, transporting people and cars between Balboa/Newport peninsula and Balboa Island. In 1920, Park Avenue was the only road on the island.
You can read and learn about the complete history through Balboa Island Museum. 

Marine Avenue and surrounding streets are filled with more than 70 gift shops, galleries and restaurants, all supported by Balboa Island Business Association ( that keeps the streets clean, hangs planters and flags, and plans special events throughout the seasons. 

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