The invention of the ferris wheel gave people a chance to see the world from above, which is why it corresponded with the invention of roofs. Gaze unabashedly with today's Groupon: for $20, you get a 20-ride punch card for the ferris wheel and carousel at Balboa Fun Zone (a $40 value).
The Balboa Fun Zone, first opened in 1936, delights families with its rollicking rides, harbor-front location, and Pacific Ocean views. The 20-ride punch card, like magic rings and indecisive politicians, can declare its allegiance to multiple people, who can then use it over several visits for ferris wheel and carousel rides. From its home on the boardwalk, the colorful ferris wheel rotates throughout the day and into the evening, cradling height-seekers of all ages in its brightly hued two-person seats and sharing its views of Newport Harbor and the ocean beyond. Wooden horses carry their riders in a ring on the elegantly painted carousel, replete with glistening mirrors, a red-and-blue canopy, and wooden horseflies. Small children can mount the steeds with the help of a standing adult, who won't be charged for admission. Between saddle-sitting and sky-circling, stroll down the palm-tree-lined boardwalk, which leads to 20 nearby restaurants and other activities that can add further delight to the day.
Balboa Fun Zone
One of the oldest amusement parks in southern California, Balboa Fun Zone is a harbor-sized time capsule sent from an era when carnival rides were designed with a distinctive panache. The colorful attractions have occupied the Balboa Peninsula since 1936, when the original landowner converted an old boat yard into a seaside carnival. The peninsula juts out from Newport Beach to form the storied patch of real estate that has attracted countless patrons with spinning carousels, arcades, and a ferris wheel known for its longish rides and elevated views of the Pacific's horizon.
The amusement park enjoyed a rebuilding in 1986 and today retains its original elegance despite decades of serial owners and various changes to the landscape and surrounding shops. Although the beloved merry-go-round was retired in 2011, the wooden stallions still drop in once a summer to greet old friends and nibble on cotton candy.