Beyond the sun, sand and surf, discover the charm of Newport Beach, California. One taste of the perfect life will keep you coming back for more.
From sunset cruises to surf lessons, wine tastings to harbor-front promenades, Newport Beach offers plenty to do during your stay. So relax, unwind and enjoy views of California’s sunrise and sunsets.
With the largest recreational harbor on the west coast, there are ten miles of extraordinary fishing, swimming, surfing, and aquatic sports activities. Ten distinct neighborhoods make up Newport Beach, each with its own unique personality, natural beauty and story to share.
Head to Newport Beach for an intimate seaside oasis with its elegance, modern shopping and stunning residential landscape. Continue reading our Newport Beach Visitors Guide and start planning today. Find the perfect beach to relax on, visit the best beaches of Southern California.
Weather – When to Visit Newport Beach
The best time to visit Newport is between March and May and from September to November. In May (the end of the spring season) and September (the start of the autumn season), mild temperatures and few rain showers mean you’ll have ideal weather for exploring the city’s famous mansions. Plus, you’ll avoid summer’s swarms of tourists and high hotel rates. Once wintertime rolls around, expect chilly temperatures and plenty of snow. But if you can weather the low temps, you’ll be rewarded with Newport’s best hotel deals.
What Should You Pack?
When figuring out what to pack for the beach, there are two tips to keep in mind. First, forgetting an item isn’t the end of the world. Unless you’re heading for a remote, deserted island, chances are you can find a store where you can pick up the extras. Second, don’t stress out over making a packing list when there’s a stress-free beach travel essentials list for you below:
- Sunglasses and hats offer much-needed sunscreen and flip flops are perfect for navigating hot, sandy beaches. Go pack them now so you’re not kicking yourself later.
- What about those little items that make beach visits so much more enjoyable? For a little extra comfort on your trip, make sure you pack: Lip balm, sunscreen, bug spray.
- Beach toys and goggles are a must for kids. Building sandcastles and viewing the underwater wonders are perennial favorites.
- Take a first-aid kit with you. Hopefully you’ll only have to worry about a few minor scrapes from seashells, but having your own kit handy is a good precaution.
- Beach Bag – Your beach bag will likely contain a few of the items mentioned above. For a well-rounded bag, consider tossing in sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray, first-aid kit and water-proof baggies.
- Beach Gear – No matter who’s supplying the gear, look to have the following items on hand: beach bag, beach chairs, beach towels, beach umbrella or tent, beach cart and a cooler.
- Remember: Don’t wait until you’re parched to drink. When you’re out in the heat and sun, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking regularly. So take along a water bottle as well.
The 5 Best Newport Beach Beaches
Newport Beach begins where the Santa Ana River flows into the Pacific, just south of Huntington Beach, and runs down to the Wedge. Favorite hot spots where surfers await the big swells include the beginning of the peninsula at 44th street, 32nd street, and down by the Newport Beach Pier at 21st street. Nearly two miles south is the Balboa Pier with tons of sand and isolated spots to enjoy the waves and the ray.
The Wedge is one of the most famous surf spots in the world. With waves that can reach 30 feet high, the Wedge is the ultimate spot to take some great photographs of massive waves. But surfers beware, the hot surf spot is more known for body boarding because of the harsh shore-breaking waves. For a complete list of area beaches, go here.
Big Corona features surf, cliffs, a jetty, and a variety of activity from surfing and skim boarding to volleyball. Surfing enthusiasts can see the waves once carved up by surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, the area’s first recognized surfer. For a complete list of area beaches, go here.
Little Corona is a quiet little paradise, offering a more tranquil and relaxing environment. The greatest attraction here is the tide pool, where an up-close adventure with sea life can be found. For a complete list of area beaches, go here.
For a throwback in charm and a secluded slide of this coastal oasis, visit Crystal Cove State Park where there are 3 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of undeveloped woodland. Many locals visit the Beachcomber café for a meal on the sand, and at 5 p.m. or sunset, for the raising of the martini flag. For a complete list of area beaches, go here.
Newport Beach Attractions
Balboa Peninsula & Balboa Beach
Here there’s a three-mile-long stretch with the harbor on one side and sandy beaches (the Peninsula” on the other. The Balboa Peninsula features the original Ruby’s Diner and a view of a shoreline, surfers, and sunbathers spanning for miles. A walk straight down Main Street brings you to the historic Balboa Pavilion, made famous in the 30s and 40s for being the home of Big Band era legends Count Basie and Benny Goodman.
In the middle of the harbor sits Balboa Island. The streets are still mostly lined with cottages built in the 1920s and ’30s. The 1.5-mile promenade that circles the island is perfect for a stroll or jog. On Agate Ave. you will find the streets lined with swimwear boutiques, Italian trattorias and cocktail bars.
Upper Newport Bay Ecological Preserve
This 752-acre reserve, where runoff from the San Bernardino Mountains meets the sea, supports more than 200 species of birds. This is one of the few estuaries in Southern California that has been preserved, and it’s an important stopover on the Pacific Flyway migration route. There are also trails for jogging and cycling. .
Sherman Library & Gardens
Here you’ll find a variety of lush gardens. Sitting on 2.2 acres, view the abundant orchids, a rose garden, a koi pond and even a desert garden. There is a small research library that holds some 15,000 historical documents from California, Arizona, Nevada and Baja.
Lovell Beach House
For iconic modern architecture stroll past the 1926 Lovell House, designed by seminal modernist architect Rudolf Schindler. It was built using site-cast concrete frames shaped like figures of eight. It’s kind of amazing that it still exists with the encroachment all around. It’s closed to the public, so you’ll be looking from outside.
Newport Beach Tours & Activities
Whale Watching Cruise
Cruise off the coast of Orange County in search of whales on this 2.5-hour excursion from Newport Beach. Watch the rugged, beautiful scenery of the Pacific Coast glide by as you listen to interesting commentary from your crew about the native California marine life. Watch for blows and tail slaps; these signal that humpback, minke, grey, finback or giant blue whales are near. Dolphins and other marine life are also in abundance during this family-friendly, year-round whale watching tour. Read more about Whale-Watching Cruise from Newport Beach
Newport Beach Sunset Cruise by Catamaran
Watch the sun set into the Pacific Ocean on an evening cruise from Newport Beach, skimming across Newport Bay in a double-decker catamaran that makes for a smoother, more comfortable ride. The departure time is tailored to the sunset so you’ll see the California coast at its most scenic, as you pass the yachts and sailing ships that come out to catch the evening light. Buy a drink from the full-service bar, or simply enjoy views of Newport’s waterfront estates and glittering bay before returning to shore. Read more about Newport Beach Sunset Cruise by Catamaran
Kayak & Paddleboard Tours
Ready to experience the amazing waters of the Newport Beach area in the best way possible? Try a tour of the majestic waters of the Bay on Kayak or Paddleboard via Balboa Tours. Read more about Kayak and Paddleboard Tours
Los Angeles Dinner Cruise
Cruise the scenic waters near Los Angeles in style during this 3-hour, high-end dinner cruise. Climb aboard and enjoy a complimentary glass of Champagne before enjoying a sumptuous four-course dinner freshly prepared on-board. Then dance the night away to the accompaniment of live or DJ musical entertainment, or simply soak up the amazing views from the ship’s outdoor decks. Ship departures from Marina Del Rey, Newport Beach or Long Beach. Read more about Los Angeles Dinner Cruise
Best Newport Beach Restaurants
A Restaurant $31 – 60
A Restaurant sits on the foundation of historic restaurant The Arches, which blossomed out of a gas station on the then-new Pacific Coast Highway. But A Restaurant isn’t relying on nostalgia alone to sell California-raised steaks and seasonal comfort-food specials. They offer imaginative fine dining amidst a red velvet interior, at prices that won’t leave you struggling to make your car payments. Telephone: 949-650-6505 Web: A Restaurant
Bear Flag Fish Co. $11 – 30
At the original Newport Bear Flag — a sun-kissed shop-turned-restaurant draped with nautical nostalgia — you can pick your species from the daily catch of glistening fillets in the deli cases and have the fishmongers cut it up into poke, grill it for minimalist tacos, or opt for one of the other stripped-down preparations. Telephone: 949-673-3474 Web: Bear Flag Fish Co.
Mama D’s $11 – 30
Only at a place like Mama D’s do the free garlic bread and meatballs become its main attraction. But it’s only a hint at the hand-pinched raviolis, pink-sauce-smothered spaghetti and cheese-covered, oven-baked lasagnas that await, all made by native New Yorker Mama D, using recipes from her Italian roots perfected over years of raising a large family of her own. Telephone: 949-675-6262 Web: Mama D’s
Tackle Box $11 – 30
Top Chef: New Orleans contestant Brian Huskey opened Tackle Box two summers ago, just off the parking lot at Corona del Mar State Beach, and put every other sand-side concession to shame. With everything from fresh OJ and breakfast sandwiches for the morning session to fresh chowder and Niman Ranch banh mis for lunch, Tackle Box now sets the standard for post-wave eating. Telephone: 949-723-0502 Web: Tackle Box
Pizzaria Mozza $31 – 60
Pizzeria Mozza might be an LA invention, but its chewy dough and Neapolitan-style toppings (like house-made cheese and cured meats) have left an even greater impression on Newport Beach. Developed out of decades spent traveling through Italy, Mozza’s pizzas are a masterclass in technique and restraint. Telephone: 949-945-1126 Web: Pizzaria Mozza
Best Newport Nightclubs
Beach Ball Bar
The Beach Ball rocks… Opens promptly at 6 AM close at 2 AM. Entertaining bartenders and inviting activities. TV’s everywhere, pool tables, golf game, photo booth, direct to Facebook if you choose, juke box (can even use your smart phone to play juke). Enjoy a variety of cocktail flavors, specialty drinks, unique and exceptional shots are all a part of the Beach Ball experience plus the price is right. Telephone: 949-675-8041 Web: Beach Ball Bar
It is a waterfront location that faces Newport Bay, which can be enjoyed if you step out onto their outdoor patio area. If you’re looking to get your groove on, Woody’s also has a pretty decently sized dance floor which is accompanied by the music of a live DJ on Fridays. Telephone: 949-675-0474 Web: Woody’s Wharf
Class of ’47
Class of ’47 has been a classic since the time John Wayne frequented it and continues to be a classic that locals can’t stay away from. Class of ’47 has pool tables, a jukebox, and even a photo booth. The indoor’s décor is not that of your standard bar, the ceiling showcases a canopy of dollar bills, and the overall vintage feel does not disappoint. Telephone: 949-675-5774 Web: Class of ’47
Mutt Lynch’s is usually always busy, but don’t be discouraged, their customer service is excellent and they are very attentive with all their guests, busy or not. Located only a short walk from the pier, you can expect it to be an ocean view bar. They have a delicious selection of food, but are best known for their ice cold schooners. Telephone: 949-675-1556 Web: Mutt Lynch’s
At American Junkie, you are greeted by a huge door which leads to both its downstairs and upstairs sections. Its upper portion of the bar includes wall-to-wall windows and outdoor seating, which provide you with a great view of the bay. At Junkie, you can enjoy a view of the bay, their upbeat music, the sports they showcase on their TVs, or a little bit of all three. Telephone: 949-675-4444 Web: American Junkie
Best Hotels in Newport Beach
Bay Shores Peninsula Hotel
Bay Shores Peninsula Hotel welcomes you to Newport Beach and especially to their hotel. For more than fifty years, they have been a family owned, California ‘beach hotel’. By providing their guests with exemplary customer service and value, they are proud to be ranked the #1 Traveler Rated Hotel in Newport Beach! For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Bay Shores Peninsula Hotel.
Fashion Island Hotel
Located at Fashion Island, an open-air lifestyle center in Newport Beach, Fashion Island Hotel is a luxury hotel featuring Southern California décor and views of the Pacific Ocean and Newport Harbor. This hotel features a resort-style pool area, a spa and an on-site restaurant. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Fashion Island Hotel.
Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas
Stylishly appointed, two-bedroom villa rentals offer amenities like full kitchens, complimentary Wi-Fi access, washer/dryers and private balconies or terraces. There are plenty of wonderful activities to keep you occupied – from three outdoor pools and a modern fitness center, tennis and basketball courts and even an on-site putting green. Rent a bike and explore Newport Coast on two wheels, plan a barbecue in the picnic area or gather around the fire pit in the evening. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas.
Balboa Bay Resort
Overlooking Balboa Bay in Newport Beach, California, this 15-acre resort is 10 minutes from Huntington Beach. It features a full-service salon and spa, on-site dining, an outdoor pool, and rooms with free WiFi. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Balboa Bay Resort.
Newport Channel Inn
Every room is equipped with a flat-screen TV, a coffee machine, a microwave, a refrigerator, and air conditioning. Every room comes with a private bathroom equipped with a hairdryer, free toiletries, and a shower. Beach towels, boogie boards, beach chairs, and beach umbrellas are provided for guests. For more information, pricing or to reserve your room visit the Newport Channel Inn.