Since its earliest beginnings Newport Beach has been all about the adjacent ocean and the challenges that are always present. This was especially true for mariners in early times that tried to enter the Bay over a bar that continually presented dangers to ships.
So it is most appropriate that "ExplorOcean, Newport Harbor Nautical Museum" devotes itself to graphically charting the exploits of its seafaring citizens. Newport Beach has long been home port for one of the west coast's most challenging yacht races, and The Wedge, at the entrance to the bay, offers a break equally challenging for surfers.
The present location is the second home of the Museum which first existed on a retired ferry boat . But in 2005 the Museum moved to an all new Adventure Pier location at the expanded Fun Zone. Here ExplorOcean offers exciting themes for it exhibitions shown in three separate galleys.
Some of the exhibits are an education experience for young people to learn about how Newport Beach developed and the people who made it happen. Each year one City citizen, who has achieved seafaring fame, is chosen for a special exhibit. Other exhibits offer opportunities aboard a simulated submarine exploration or to view constantly changing sea adventures on television.
One gallery has a superb collection of ship models including famed war ships of the past like HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson's flagship, as well as American warships that took part in the war of 1812. These models are crafted in remarkable detail. There are tide pools where the creatures can be touched by curious youngsters and a deep dive photographs. Step outside the Museum and you have all the captivating amusements of the revitalized Fun Zone with its sparkling Ferris Wheel as well as restaurants and a host of other sea oriented activities.
We spent a whole afternoon exploring the Museum and then wandered with camera in hand through the Fun Zone. We even took our shortest cruise ever, a ride on the ferry that has been taking cars and passengers across the Bay for many decades.
ExplorOcean is open daily from Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a most reasonable admission fee. It is located at 600 East bay Avenue in Newport Beach 92661. For more information call 949 675-8915, on the web at www.ExplorOcean.org.
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