Newport Beach is a coastal city located south of Los Angeles. This picturesque Southern California beach town (made famous by the television series The O.C.) has an expansive waterfront with many attractions including fabulous beaches, hiking trails, cycling trails, the largest recreational harbor on the west coast, sunset cruises, surfing, and harbor-front promenades.
From surfing to paddleboarding, relaxing on the beach, playing golf, and shopping, Newport Beach has something for everyone. There are hundreds of excellent restaurants, wine bars, cocktail bars, and great brunch spots that make it a foodie destination in itself.
To help you make the most of your visit to this seaside destination, we have created this ultimate guide to Newport Beach sharing the best places to stay, where to eat and drink, and the top activities in and around the city.
Top 10 Things To Do In Newport Beach
There are plenty of things to do in Newport Beach, and each time you visit you will find something new to do. But with so many options, where should you begin? Here are our top 10 things to do in Newport Beach that we recommend for first-time visitors to the city.
1) Visit Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park is one of Orange County’s largest parks that overlooks the natural seashore. The park features 3.2 miles of beach, 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness and an offshore underwater area.
Located off Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach the park is a must when you are visiting the city for a morning (opens at 6am) or late afternoon hike (closes at sunset).
There is also federally listed Historic District that you can explore in the park that is open until 10pm, which is an enclave of 46 coastal cottages originally built as a seaside colony in the 1930’s & 40’s located nestled around the entrance of Los Trancos Creek.
2) Visit Balboa Island
Balboa Island is a small island in Newport Beach that you can reach by car or by Balboa Island Ferry. Head to Marine Avenue which is the main street and is home to a selection of chic coastal shops and restaurants.
You cannot visit the island without trying the famous Balboa Bar or Frozen Banana. These tasty treats have been mainstays for nearly 75 years, and are dipped in chocolate and covered with a variety of coatings from nuts and chocolate sprinkles.
3) Wander The Shops At Lido Marina Village
Lido Marina Village is an upscale area located right on the water with a range of chic stores and waterside restaurants. This is a great area to grab a light brunch at Zinque or Malibu Farm, or if you prefer a more fine dining experience you will also find Nobu here.
Follow up your lunch with a visit to the shops, my favorites in this area are Sugar Paper LA a boutique stationary store, Stoney Clover Lane, Eberjey and Love Shack Fancy.
4) Rent A Duffy Boat
One of the most quintessential Newport Beach activities is to rent a Duffy boat for the day and cruise around the harbor passing beautiful million dollar homes. I highly recommend bringing your own picnic and a few bottles of bubbly to enjoy.
If a Duffy is a little slow going for you, you can also rent a speed boat which you can take out of the harbor into the open water where you will see sealions, dolphins and if you are lucky whales.
5) Watch Surfers At The Wedge
The Wedge Newport Beach is a famous spot in Southern California that is known for its shore-breaking waves that can reach up to 30 feet. This is an area only for the most experienced surfers and even then you will mostly see people body boarding!
6) Visit Newport Beach and Newport Pier
The actual beach of Newport Beach is the area around the Newport Pier. If you come to the beach early in the day you can catch the historic Dory fleet fish market and then walk the pier. If you want to try your hand at surfing, a good spot to try is known as Blackies, located between the pier and the 28th Street jetty.
7) Visit Corona Del Mar State Beach
A 30-acres park with a half-a-mile beach ideal for surfing, swimming or sunbathing. This park also has picnic benches great for having an afternoon picnic.
8) Visit The Spa At Pelican Hill
With 22 treatment rooms, this world-class spa is the perfect place to go for some much-needed relaxation. Along with lounges, saunas, steam rooms, and soaking tubs offering a large variety of treatments.
9) Go On A Whale Watching Tour
Dolphins, whales and other marine life can be spotted year round in the Newport Beach area and while you may be able to spot them from the land, its far better to get out on the water. There are plenty of whale watching tours to choose from including this Ultimate Whale Watching Adventure which is a two hour cruise.
10) Cycle From Newport Beach To Huntington Beach
This 12-mile beach cycling trail is mostly across flat land but is perfect for an afternoon cycle along the coastline.
Other Things To See In Newport Beach:
- Sherman Library and Gardens
- Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
- Crystal Cove Beach
- Newport Bay Conservancy
- Orange County Museum Of Art
- Balboa Fun Zone
- Christmas Boat Parade
Where To Stay In Newport Beach Beach
My favorite hotel to stay in is the Resort at Pelican Hill. This hotel is a 504 acres luxury resort, complete with a golf course, two outdoor swimming pools, a full-service spa, three miles of beach, and five superb restaurants to choose from. The resort has a combination of two-bedroom villas, three-bedroom villas, four-bedroom villas, and bungalows. The rooms and villas have a combination of ocean view rooms, accessible rooms, all in various configurations.
Here are the seven other highly rated hotels in Newport Beach:
- Balboa Bay Resort
- Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas
- Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa
- Lido House, Autograph Collection
- Ayres Hotel, Costa Mesa/Newport Beach
- Newport Beach Marriott Bayview
- Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
Where To Eat In Newport Beach
With a mix of beach bars, 50’s inspired cafes, and upscale dining, Newport Beach has the perfect dining option for everyone, especially if you love seafood.
Here are 10 of the top-rated restaurants in Newport Beach:
- The Beachcomber – This ’50s inspired renovated cottages houses a unique café, serving specialties such as coconut macadamia pancakes, shrimp chile relleno, and a locals favorite lemon ginger martini.
- Andrea at Pelican Hill – A upscale Italian restaurant located within the Pelican Hill Resort, serving fresh pasta and hand-made sauces.
- Javier’s – An upscale Mexican restaurant that has incredible dishes and the largest collection of Tequilas on the West Coast.
- Fly ‘N’ Fish – Waterfront dining, which specializes in seafood and an award-winning Clam Chowder and oysters.
- Harborside Restaurant – An award-winning restaurant on the waterfront serving fresh seafood and the longest happy hour in town.
- Bear Flag Fish Co – Well known around town for their unique creations, with panko-grilled fish tacos, burritos, fresh poke, and Peruvian ceviche.
- The Winery Newport Beach – Owned and operated by world-renowned chefs, this restaurant serves delicious food and has an extensive wine list.
- The Cannary Newport Beach – Located within an old warehouse this unique restaurant has the best lobster rolls in town and if that wasn’t enough it also has a 14-page wine list.
- Nobu – Home to some of the best sushi in the area, located within a sleek setting.
- Bluewater Grill – A waterfront patio and bar only serving seafood caught sustainably.
Bars and Rooftops
Whether you prefer cocktail bars, wine bars, or beach bars, Newport Beach has everything you could want from a bar and more. People often travel from outside the city to enjoy the cities diverse nightlife selection.
Here are a few of the best bars in Newport Beach:
- Oak Grill Newport Beach – Complete Cali vibes with fresh cocktails.
- Stag Bar + Kitchen – First opened in 1908 this bar serves over 75 varieties of whiskey.
- Beach Ball Bar – A dive-bar feel that opens at 6 am with mimosas, there is also a pool table and jukebox.
- Malarky’s Irish Pub – A locals favorite bar that serves Irish coffee.
Where to Shop
Newport Beach is filled with unique and wonderful stores; whether you are looking to purchase art-decor pieces, high-end clothes, souvenirs, or unique one-of-a-kind items, there is a store for everything you need.
Fashion Island is Newport’s main shopping area with chain stores and department stores such as Nordstrom and Macy’s, but there are also smaller shopping districts such as Lido Marina Village where you will find more boutique options.
Here are a few of the best shopping areas and stores in Newport Beach:
- Fashion Island
- Along Came a Spider Children’s Boutique
- Corona del Mar
- Lido Marina Village
- West Cliff Plaza
- Newport Beach Farmers Market
When Should I Visit Newport Beach?
With an average year-round temperature in the 70s (20s Celsius), there isn’t a bad time of year to visit Newport Beach. To experience the city with fewer crowds, for the warmer weather, and with less chance of rain, is it best to visit between May and September.
Lodging rates are slightly higher between June and August, but you can find some great accommodation deals in the spring and the fall.
Throughout the year, the city has a large number of festivals and outdoor events. Some great events are:
- Newport Beach Film Festival (October)
- Annual Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade (December)
- Fireworks Show at Newport Dunes (July)
- Annual Taste of Newport (September)
- Annual Sandcastle Contest (October)
Related Post: Ultimate Guide To The Best Festivals Around The World
How To Get To Newport Beach
The closest large airport to Newport Beach is in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is located around 45 miles or just over one hour (traffic dependent) from Newport Beach. From there you can rent a car, or take a taxi to Newport Beach.
Alternatively, Newport Beach has a small, stress-free airport, John Wayne Airport-Orange County (SNA), which serves a number of domestic routes via Southwest, Delta, American Airlines, United, and Alaska Airlines.
Newport Beach Guide Wrap Up
I hope you found this guide helpful. If you have questions about Newport Beach or tips for our readers, please leave these in the comments below!
And if you’re interested in visiting other areas in California, you can check out all our Californian articles for inspiration.
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Newport Beach, California. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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We Are Travel Girls Founder Becky van Dijk of BeckyvanDijk.com
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