The newly remodeled Balboa Inn, in Newport Beach, Orange County, is a place where casual beachside ambiance and classic Old World charm combine in a historic landmark that’s lured Southern California's rich and famous for decades. Set on the colorful boardwalk at the foot of the Balboa Pier, this oceanfront establishment’s relaxed air may have you kicking off your high heels before you stroll down the aisle.
Built in 1929, this upscale Orange County inn has entertained such notables as Howard Hughes, Barry Goldwater and a host of other politicians, entertainers and honeymooners. Once owned by the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kareem Abdul Jabbar, its nine-foot ceilings still bear a telltale sign of the basketball star. A recent $6-million addition features two oceanview terraces, a new oceanview Italian tile sundeck with hot tub, 34 upgraded rooms, 11 top-of-the-line suites and convenient subterranean valet parking.
Guests enter the Inn through the Mediterranean-style courtyard, a natural space for pre-ceremony mingling. With its original tile, adobe walls, potted palms, bar and the soothing sound of surf crashing in the background, the space is a comfortable area for people to come together. Meanwhile, you, your groom and all your attendants have full use of an oceanview honeymoon suite with a Jacuzzi and fireplace. For the wedding ceremony itself, options include the hotel’s magnificent second-floor Siena Terrace overlooking the ocean, as well as the nearby gazebo at Peninsula Park and the adjacent rugby field fronting the ocean, where a decorated arch can provide a focal point.
After you’ve said your “I do’s,” the Pacific Ocean provides fabulous scenery for photos taken on the pier, the sand or the grassy field next to the beach. When you’re ready to receive your guests, return to the upstairs terrace with its panoramic views from Catalina Island to Dana Point. Or, hold your wedding reception in the Siena Grand Dining Room and adjoining courtyard, where antique streetlights and colorful murals of gondolas on canals capture the romance of Venice. Along with five-star Italian cuisine by the restaurant’s gifted executive chef, you’ll enjoy a dreamy indoor-outdoor setting cleansed by refreshing sea spray.
Far removed from the straight-laced formality of more corporate properties, the Balboa Inn is just steps from Newport’s famed Fun Zone. Here, you can pose for some playful photos on the historic carousel and Ferris wheel, or take a stress-busting ferry ride across Newport Bay. After you’ve returned to your guests to dance the night away, there’s one more thing you’ll probably want to do before heading for your honeymoon suite: go for a moonlit stroll along the sand.
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