The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

California Bucket List

Here’s your daily travel guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State. Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor.

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Family-friendlyOrange County

Rent a Duffy for a glittery tour of Newport Harbor

 (Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

Why: Newport Bay seems made of glitter. Rental boats are plentiful and the harbor is easy to navigate and full of nautical eye candy. Board an electric boat and take a breezy tour.

What: Newport Beach is the Beverly Hills of Orange County. The setting for multiple TV shows, it represents much of the California dream – giant homes and sensational yachts. The harbor, home to 9,000 vessels, is a recreational wonderland.

The Duffy, a popular brand of rental boats, is an excellent way to see it all. Available at a half dozen rental places around the harbor, the slow-moving vessels are as easy to operate as a golf cart.


 (Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)
 (Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)


A popular route is around Lido Island, the thumb-shaped isle on the western side of the harbor, where the bridge leaves plenty of space. Note that many of the bridges surrounding neighboring Balboa Island are too low to accommodate the surrey-topped electric boats. A lap around Lido takes about an hour, a typical rental period.

Or, head east past the Fun Zone on Balboa Peninsula, past Balboa Island and toward the mouth of the harbor. You’ll be warned not to go near the outlet, since the electric boats aren’t built to handle bigger waves.

Pontoons, kayaks, paddle boards and powerboats are also available at rental locations around the harbor. Boat Rentals of America, on the peninsula near the Fun Zone, offers walk-up rentals, but recommends reservations for weekends, no matter the time of year.

Where: Newport Beach is in Orange County, 46 miles, or 90 minutes, from downtown L.A.

How much: Duffy electric boats that accommodate up to eight passengers rent for about $85 an hour.

Info: Boat Rentals of America or Newport Beach Boat Rentals

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