How much paradise describes the coastal city of Newport Beach. This small city in Orange County, California is the perfect mix of sophisticated and laid-back beach culture.
People come to Newport Beach primarily for the sunny weather, sand, and beautiful views, including spectacular sunsets in the evening.
The city also has many other attractions, including waterfront dining options, modern shopping, several top-rated golf courses, and of course, the Balboa Peninsula District, which includes two marinas and the iconic boardwalk about three miles long.
Popular activities around the city include sunset cruises, wine tasting, fishing and many water sports. A network of hiking trails is located in the Upper Newport Bay area.
If you’re lucky and happen to be near the sea late at night, you might even catch a glimpse of bioluminescence that emerges under the right conditions.
Numerous festivals take place throughout the year, including the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Newport Beach Food and Wine Festival.
Here are 15 of the best things to do in and around Newport Beach, California.
1. Wander the Newport Pier
A great way to start your adventure in Newport Beach is to visit the iconic Newport Pier.
Originally built for shipping purposes and then converted into a recreation area, Newport Pier has been attracting locals and tourists for over 100 years.
Located in the middle of the Balboa Peninsula, this 314-meter-long pier is famous for its beautiful sunsets. This is a great place for a relaxing stroll by the sea. You can fish from the pier and there are dining options nearby.
2. Spend the day at Crystal Cove State Park
There are many beaches around Newport Beach, but if you’re looking for a beach that’s less crowded and surrounded by nature, Crystal Cove State Park is a great place to spend the day.
With 3.2 miles of sandy beaches and 2,400 acres of wilderness, Crystal Cove is one of the largest nature reserves in the county. As you explore the park, you’ll see towering cliffs, canyons, and tide pools, and take a dip in the crystal-clear waters.
There are camping areas in the park if you want to spend the night.
3. Admire fine art at the Orange County Museum of Art
Said to be one of the top attractions in nearby Santa Ana, the Orange County Museum of Art attracts visitors from all walks of life.
You don’t need to be an art lover or connoisseur to appreciate the fine art on display. Some 3,000 objects include paintings, photographs and sculptures, showcasing local art from the early 1900s to today.
The museum also hosts various events throughout the year.
4. Dine at Newport Landing Restaurant
While seafood is the main feature at Newport Landing restaurants, there are many other items on the menu to satisfy non-seafood lovers.
For over 30 years, this relaxed upscale restaurant has been serving local ingredients and the freshest seafood on the market.
The menu features a variety of appetizers, soups, salads and seafood specialties, including grilled Atlantic salmon and blackened Pacific swordfish. Some of the available entrees include fish and chips and shrimp linguine. There is also an oyster bar on site.
The extensive bar menu includes California wines, local craft beers and a variety of cocktails. The on-site bar also offers the longest happy hour in Newport Beach.
The Newport Landing is located on the waterfront, with views of Newport Harbour, Balboa Island and the distant Saddleback Mountains.
5. Go whale watching
Newport Beach is ideally located with several whale migration paths, making it one of the best places for whale watching in the area.
The best way to see these huge and majestic creatures is on a whale tour. You’ll get up close and personal with a variety of whales and other marine animals. Newport Landing Whale Watching offers these tours.
Whale watching is something the whole family can enjoy. On one of the two and a half hour excursions, you may see grey whales, killer whales, humpback whales, blue whales and fin whales. You can also spot dolphins, seals, sharks and a variety of seabirds.
6. Spend an afternoon shopping at Fashion Island
If you want to go shopping but don’t want to waste a good sunny day in an air-conditioned mall, head to Fashion Island, an open-air mall with views of the Pacific Ocean.
This luxury shopping destination has more than 150 stores, including several large department stores and many smaller boutiques. Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Anthropologie, and Trina Turk are just some of the stores you’ll find here.
There are several restaurants on site, including an artisan burger joint, a Japanese sushi bar, an Italian restaurant and several pizzerias. There is also a grocery store and a cinema, and many events are held in the center throughout the year.
7. Escape the city at Upper Newport Bay Nature Reserve
Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve—or “Back Bay” as it’s known locally—is a 1,000-acre estuary that is the largest wetland in Southern California.
The reserve is an important stopover for more than 35,000 migratory birds, making it a popular destination for bird watchers.
Cycling, hiking and horseback riding are some other outdoor activities you can do. There is also an interpretive centre on site where you can learn about the history of the estuary and the butterfly garden.
8. Get the thrills at the Balboa Play Area
The Balboa Recreation Area is perfect for an exciting family outing in Newport Beach. Located on the Balboa Peninsula, the park offers a wide variety of attractions and activities.
The on-site Balboa Village features a beach area, scenic boardwalks, and restaurants and shops.
Live entertainment includes Ocean Motion bungee jumping and the iconic waterfront Ferris wheel. Offering harbour cruises, there is also a historic gazebo and several arcades on site.
9. Try paddling at the Pirate Coast Paddle Company
Whether you’ve never boarded a paddle before, or are a seasoned fan of this fun and exciting water sport, Pirate Shores Paddle Board has an adventure for you.
If you’re new to paddleboarding, take an hour-long class where you’ll learn the basics of the sport and how to stay safe.
You also have the option to rent a paddle board on-site and start your own adventure, or you can sign up for one of the excursions led by a knowledgeable and experienced guide.
10. Brunch at The Beachcomber Cafe
Beachcomber Cafe is a popular restaurant in the Crystal Bay area of Newport Beach. Enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner on the beach surrounded by spectacular ocean views.
The diverse menu includes a variety of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, tacos and more. Delicious desserts are served, and the drink menu includes a variety of wines, beers and cocktails.
Visitors also have the option to rent fire pits and beach equipment, including beach chairs.
11. Learn about native plants at the Environmental Nature Center
Since 1972, the Environmental Nature Center has provided visual and interactive learning experiences for people of all ages. The 3.5-acre site features 15 different plant environments made up of plants native to the state.
On site, you’ll find several nature trails that traverse a variety of habitats and ecosystems, including deserts, swamps, oak forests, and redwoods. There is also a butterfly habitat and a nature museum on site.
12. Ride some waves at The Wedge
Located on the easternmost tip of the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, The Wedge is known for its spectacular wave action, which is caused by the unique geological features of the area.
Waves can reach heights of up to 30 feet, making it the perfect place to capture stunning ocean photos.
Wedge is popular with surfers, bodyboarders and other thrill seekers looking to test their skills. It is said to be one of the best places for these activities in Southern California.
13. Pamper yourself at the spa at Pelican Hill
Spend a day of relaxation at Pelican Hill Spa and you’ll discover a range of amenities and services.
On site, you’ll find 22 treatment rooms, a gym, salt soaking tub, steam room, sauna and several relaxation lounges. You also have access to many services, including spa cuisine and various wellness classes.
For the ultimate in pampering, we offer a variety of treatments including massages, facials, exfoliation, reflexology, scalp treatments and foot massages. packages are available.
14. Eat French food at Moulin Bistro
The owner of Moulin Bistro in Newport Beach is French and knows French culture and cuisine like the back of the hand. In fact, he started the bistro as a tribute to the Parisian bistros he frequented in his youth in order to share these experiences with Newport Beach residents and visitors from all over.
Entering the Moulin Rouge, the first thing you will notice is the smell of fresh bread and the sound of French.
If you are already familiar with French cuisine, some traditional dishes will take you back to your last visit to France or your own French upbringing.
The menu features a wide variety of sandwiches, pastries, crepes, soups, salads and favorites. French wines and champagne are also served.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Newport Beach, CA, CA
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