Beautiful beaches, rustic mountain trails, even an old-fashioned amusement park — if you're looking for the perfect family destination, here are some spots we love along the SoCal coast.
The picturesque seaside town of Newport Beach is a mecca for water sports, and you can rent paddleboards, boats and kayaks at numerous locations. Adventures Boat rentals boasts the lowest prices. And at Moe B's Watersports, you also find the Water Playground — a floating obstacle course with slides, balance beam, trampoline and more. "Kids have a blast jumping off into the water, and we even see adults on there as well," water sports clerk Daniel Jasso said.
Not to be missed is the Balboa Fun Zone — or the ferry trip that takes you there. You can rent boats here too, but the star attraction is a Ferris wheel that lifts you high above the bay for a spectacular view of the harbor. Kind of funky, totally retro — and a far cry from the electronic dazzle of today's video environments — is an old-fashioned arcade with mid-century artifacts like Skee-Ball. The Fun Zone is also home to ExplorOcean, featuring touch-and-feel exhibits and tide pool tanks that are both entertaining and educational.
Crystal Cove State Park offers two wonderful settings for outdoor recreation. On the coast side are tide pools, coves and wide sandy beaches where you can swim, surf or scuba dive along the reefs. And the hills are ideal for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
A must-see for sports fans is the Newport Sports Museum, with more than 10,000 pieces of sports memorabilia that once belonged to legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Golf enthusiasts can view clubs from Eisenhower, Reagan and other U.S. presidents. And the basketball collection includes Michael Jordan's jersey and Shaq's shoes — size 22.
—Maxine Nunes for Newport Beach