Balboa Island Exhibition

Most people close the curtains in their homes at night so they can have some privacy. Balboa Island has to be one of the few places in the world where the opposite occurs: people install huge windows with no curtains at all and light up the insides of their houses like a museum so that everyone who walks by can see everything. The best time to enjoy this curiosity is around Christmas, when most houses are brightly decorated and you can snoop on holiday parties.

This island -- joined to Newport Beach by a short bridge and by a ferry -- is so small that 30 minutes is enough time to walk around the entire perimeter. As you can see here, the walk takes you within 10 feet of each house, making it quite easy to peer inside. You often see someone eating, lying on the couch watching TV, or (in this case) working in the kitchen. And these are not your ordinary houses, since each one on this waterfront location is worth well over $1 million.

This sightseeing expedition is especially nice while the annual Balboa Island boat parade is taking place each night during the week before Christmas. There are more parties then, and a lot of excitement is in the air from carolers and other festivities.