NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- When you're committed to an Anaheim Ducks game, regular season or Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the entire day is not consumed by worry or homework or the game-day nap, there is time to fill.
The easy, close choice to Honda Center could be baseball or "The Mouse," but if noise, long lines and vertigo aren't your thing, there is an experience not far away that always makes the three stars.
A short drive straight south from Honda Center is Newport Beach, where you can pick any number of activities to put some relaxation in your day.
Lunch and a stroll won out over shopping among the choices on game day of the Western Conference Second Round series between the Ducks and Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
The beeline to the Balboa Peninsula and Newport Beach's oceanfront boardwalk was traffic-free. The sea breeze was a welcome bonus, especially considering my normal existence in the landlocked part of the NHL.
Everything you need for a fun day is next to the beach. There's the beach itself, of course, as well as places to get lemonade, chili and gelato. There's a bakery, a deli, surf shops, bike shops, tattoo shops and yes, a yacht dealer.
On a windy afternoon in the middle of the Western Conference Second Round series between the Ducks and Edmonton Oilers, it was a welcome break to walk out on Newport Beach's pier and watch the seagulls turn into the wind and hold their place effortlessly.
It was a marked, calming contrast to the physical mayhem brought by the teams on the ice.
The choices, then, were tough. Bear Flag Fish Company, Cannery Seafood of the Pacific and Mama D's Italian Kitchen are all go-to places, but Fly N Fish Oyster Bar and Grill for chowder and lobster tacos won the day.
Already checking my calendar and schedule for Games 5 and 7.