Weekend Getaway: Things to Do in Newport Beach

newport beach

You know that vivacious beach town you dream about on dreary afternoons? Well, it does exist, and the locals call it “Newps.” In Newport Beach, people ride bikes down the boardwalks (with surfboards in hand), and you can hear the waves breaking in the night from nearly anywhere in town. And there is no need for a white Christmas when you have  lights and decorations on all the boats in the bay. A little California magic. That’s Newps for you.

Here’s a local’s guide to a weekend getaway in seaside Newport Beach.

Things to Do
1. Try out your sea legs. Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard at Marina Boat Rentals to experience the gorgeous Newport Beach Harbor (newportbeachboatrentals.com). Don’t feel like breaking a sweat? Take the Balboa Ferry across the harbor to Balboa Island. Rides cost $1 per adult ($.50 up to age 11/free for kids 5 and under).  And don’t miss the frozen bananas and famed balboa bars on Marine Avenue600 East Bay Avenue  Newport Beach, CA .

2. Cruise the boardwalk. Yes, it’s a little touristy, but also a must-do: rent a surrey from one of the many rental shops along the Balboa Peninsula boardwalk, and then take a ride along the coast. Stop at Alta Coffee Warehouse on 31st Street to sample their infamous spiced chai latte and weekend brunch, or live music entertainment nearly every night of the week (506 31st Street).

3. Soak up that sun—head to the beach. The Wedge is an international surf spot, but not a place for inexperienced swimmers. When the surf is big, it’s a great place to watch boogie-boarders and body surfers carve the waves. If you’re after your own time on a board, rent one at a shop on the boardwalk and head to Blackies surf beach by the Newport Pier.

4. Catch a matinée film at the majestic and historic Lido Theatre across the street (3459 Via Lido, regencymovies.com).

Where to Eat
1. Head to Great Mex, a coveted spot (just don’t tell them I sent you—it’s sacred to locals!) for delicious Mexican grub. (703 East Balboa Boulevard, greatmexgrill.com).

2. Avanti Cafe sits just outside the Newport Beach city line, but it’s worth going the extra mile. All vegetarian and vegan-friendly, this friendly spot serves up tasty eats with a feel-good spin (259 E. 17th Street, Costa Mesa, avantinatural.com).

3. Go local at the Sunday Farmer’s Market at Lido Marina Village, open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (newportbeachfm.com).

Where to Sleep:
1. Go in for a little pampering and luxury at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort (from $269 a night), with a great location on the Newport Beach Harbor (1221 Coast Highway, balboabayclub.com).

2. The Bay Shores Peninsula Hotel is a friendly beach hotel (from $135) – plus, located across the road from the beach and Newport Pier (1800 W. Balboa Boulevard, thebestinn.com).

3. Get cozy with nature in a cottage at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort. From this camp at the base of the Back Bay Nature Preserve, you can take a hike around the bay, go bird-watching—nearly 200 species have been identified here—sun on the beach, and much more (1131 Back Bay Drive, newportdunes.com).

You can fly into John Wayne Airport which is easily accessible to Newport Beach by bus (the bus 76 connects to various lines that reach Newport proper).

Photos: Visit Newport Beach, Andy Templeton, 

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