Newport Beach Vacation Guide

Where to Stay And Things To See In Newport Beach

This Newport Beach vacation guide includes information about where to stay and what to do while visiting the area, including Balboa Island, Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar.

A Newport Beach vacation is ideal for the whole family, as there is a multitude of recreational activities available, such as boating, swimming, surfing, biking, skating and just plain hanging out at the beach.

Newport Beach is in Orange County between Huntington Beach and Laguna. While Huntington Beach has great surfing, and Laguna famous for its beautiful coves and art galleries, Newport is a boater’s haven with it’s picturesque harbor. It has lovely ocean beaches too, along the peninsula where there are many cottages and vacation rentals.

Balboa Peninsula

The Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach extends for about 6 miles, consisting mostly of wide sandy beaches and two large piers. A boardwalk stretches along the length of it, great for biking, skating, jogging or strolling. You can rent bicycles and surreys near either of the piers.

At the end of the peninsula is a famous body surfing spot known as the Wedge. It’s located at the end of the Balboa Peninsula between the Balboa Pier and the jetty. It’s famous for its large waves that crash very close to shore, making it quite dangerous to bodysurf, board surf or swim unless you’re very experienced and know what you’re in for. There have been plenty of injuries here over the years.

But if you’re not a pro, you can still enjoy the show from the beach — not only watching the body boarding action, but also seeing and hearing the magnificent waves crashing and pounding the shore.

The Crab Cooker, on Newport Blvd., near the Newport Pier is a very fun, casual restaurant with lots of character.

Piers On The Peninsula

Both the Newport Pier and Balboa Pier are areas with several places to eat and shop. Ruby’s Diner at the end of Balboa Pier has great views with both inside and outside dining available. You can also get a cup of chili or ice cream cone from their outside window.

Balboa Island

No Newport Beach vacation is complete without a visit to Balboa Island. Inland from the Balboa Pier is a small car ferry, which takes cars, pedestrians and bikers on a short but scenic journey to Balboa Island. Once there, you can stroll around the island on the boardwalk, viewing the bayfront homes, vacation cottages and variety of docked yachts. Several small public piers marked with blue trim allow fishing and boating access.

The small sandy public beaches are great for families with small children, though the water quality may be dubious at times. Sunbathers can also enjoy the peaceful atmosphere here. There are no bathrooms along these beaches, but there is a public one on the island side of the ferry landing and another one behind the fire station in the village.

Balboa has a small main street filled with adorable shops, a few restaurants, and a couple of stands with the famous Balboa Bar and frozen bananas for sale. The ice cream bars and frozen bananas on a stick are dipped in chocolate and rolled in the topping of your choice.

Newport Harbor

Newport Beach Harbor has one of the largest amounts of yachts docked in the entire country. You can kayak, sail, motor or take a harbor cruise around the bay. You may even want to dine while out on the water with a sunset dinner cruise.

If you enjoy driving your own vessel out in the harbor amongst the pleasure boats, look for a boat rental.

Where To Stay On Your Newport Beach Vacation

There are a lot of hotels and resorts to choose from. Many of the larger ones are inland towards the airport. Smaller hotels can be found closer to the water. Find hotels in Newport Beach or better yet, resorts.

Newport Beach Vacation Rentals

In the summer, beach house vacation rentals all along the peninsula and on Balboa Island are popular and abundant. Houses on the peninsula are within walking distance to both Newport Harbor and the ocean. Oceanfront homes line the boardwalk for the entire length of the peninsula, while bayfront homes line the harbor side. And there are lots of cute cottages in between. It’s ideal for enjoying the boats in the harbor, biking or skating on the boardwalk, and playing in the ocean.

Balboa Island is another great place to stay, especially with it’s charming cottage village atmosphere and easy access to boating recreation in the bay that surrounds the island. The ocean beach, which is on the peninsula, is a mere ferry ride away. Shops and restaurants line the main street. If you love to walk, Balboa is really enjoyable.


There are very few camping options in the area, but you can camp at the Newport Dunes Resort. Also check Crystal Cove, which has an inland campground as well as little beach cottages for rent.

Coastal Neighbors

Corona del Mar is just south of Newport Beach. It is a relatively small beach, (actually two), below a bluff and is a favorite place to swim and body board.

Further south is Crystal Cove, a state park that has miles of undeveloped beach, except for the historical district, which has cottages you can rent on the beach.

The Back Bay

The Newport Beach Back Bay has recreational activities from birdwatching to sailing lessons. Also known as the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve, it covers about a thousand acres of mostly marshlands and big bluffs. It is also one of the largest estuaries left in Southern California. The area is a bird sanctuary for migrating birds and also a fishery habitat. A hiking and biking trail allow for enjoyment of the natural beauty of this area.

The Muth Interpretive Center has interactive exhibits for nature lovers. Their address is at 2301 University Drive (near Irvine Ave.), Newport Beach. Their phone number is 949-923-2290.

Another thing to do while visiting the Back Bay is to go to the Newport Aquatic Center at 1 Whitecliffs Drive. They offer hourly 1 and 2 person kayak rentals in the Back Bay. Call 949-646-7725 to check if they are open during the off season.

The Newport Dunes is also located in the back bay, off of Pacific Coast Highway, and is a place you can camp by the water. It has its own beach. They have lots of things for a Newport Beach vacation, from beach rentals, to outdoor movies, to swimming in the dunes.

Fashion Island

For those who like to squeeze in some shopping on their Newport Beach vacation, Fashion Island is a large, very nicely landscaped shopping area in between Jamboree and MacArthur Boulevard. It’s like an island because it is surrounded by a circle of Newport Center Drive East and West. There are large department stores such as Macys, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Nordstom. There is also a Whole Foods Market, several restaurants, and a host of other smaller shops. You’ll find all kinds of restaurants, from fast food to find dining and everything in between.

Getting There

The main ways in and out of Newport Beach are the 405 Freeway, the 55 Freeway and Pacific Coast Highway.  Or the John Wayne Orange County airport.

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