Newport Beach VC_NewportBeach_CoronaDelMar_Stock_RF_EHNYRW_1280x640
Jon Bilous/Alamy

Newport Beach

Newport Beach
Old California charm meets modern glamour

Look one way, and you’ll see oceanfront mansions and a yacht-lined harbor. Look another, and you’ll find historic cottages, dive bars, and a friendly controversy about ice cream bars. With its mix of high-end living and world-class surfing waves, Newport Beach offers both luxury and beach-town delights.

Like any glamorous icon of a certain age, this coastal town has changed its identity a few times over the years. Back in the 1830s, Newport Beach was a rancho known as Bolsa de San Joaquin, owned by a settler who preferred livestock to seafaring: he had 14,000 head of cattle and 3,000 horses, but no boats. Over the next century, the community first changed its name to Newport—in the 1870s, when the main industry was commercial shipping—then to Newport Beach in 1902. After that, the town increasingly attracted tourists and Hollywood elite such as Shirley Temple (crowned the first Miss Newport Beach at age 13), James Cagney (said to have won Collins Island in a poker game), and John Wayne, who moved here permanently in the early 1960s.

The city’s heart and soul still revolve around the harbour, which comprises two bodies of water. There’s Upper Newport Bay, an ecological reserve ringed by a 16-kilometre loop trail that attracts birders, joggers, equestrians, and cyclists. The 6-kilometre long Lower Newport Bay, meanwhile, features lovely shops and restaurants—especially in Cannery Village, Balboa Peninsula, and Balboa Island. The town also has a thriving surf scene, thanks to more than 13-kilometres of beaches and the bodysurfers’ bucket-list spot known as the Wedge, with raucous waves that can easily reach 20 feet in height.

Shirley Temple was crowned Miss Newport Beach at age 13, while James Cagney is rumored to have won Collins Island in a poker game.

But even with the many changes, you’ll see traces of both old and new in Newport Beach. Go to historic Dory Fleet Market, founded in 1891 and operating as a fish market ever since. It sits near popular seaside restaurants such as Bluewater Grill, Fly ’N’ Fish Oyster Bar, and Bear Flag Fish Co. Note how some folks around here do the “dock and dine”—pulling their boats up to a restaurant for dinner. You can even take a Hornblower Cruises tour of John Wayne’s old yacht, the Wild Goose, and catch a view of his oceanfront manse. Belying his cowboy image, the Duke was reportedly once a bodysurfer himself.

Then browse the boutiques of Corona del Mar, or go to the open-air Fashion Island, home to high-end retail stores as well as June’s annual Newport Beach Jazz Festival. Come to town in spring and you can watch screenings at the Newport Beach Film Festival. “When we set out to found the film festival in 1999,” says festival director Greg Schwenk, “we could think of no more beautiful spot to hold it in than Newport Beach.” Schwenk’s favorite festival memory: listening to Richard Sherman, who penned the music and lyrics for Mary Poppins, playing songs from the movie on the baby grand at the Island Hotel.

Beyond any glitz, Newport offers a few small but sweet luxuries—and one long-standing disagreement. Sugar ’n Spice and Dad’s, each on Balboa Island’s Marine Avenue, are proud of their frozen, chocolate-dipped bananas, and both claim to have invented the Balboa Bar, a chocolate-dipped ice cream bar rolled in sweet or salty toppings. No doubt, you’ll need to try them all to form your own opinion.

Newport Beach OC_Hero_HuntingtonCouple_Mansfield_1280x642_sized
Photo by Scott Mansfield

Southern California

Discover Orange County

Newport Beach vca_maps_orangecounty
14
April
Average (°C)
Mar - May
26°
High
5°
Low
June - Aug
35°
High
11°
Low
Sept - Nov
31°
High
5°
Low
Dec - Feb
15°
High
2°
Low

Whether it’s manicured beach towns or celebrated theme parks, all framed by oceanfront towns and luxury yachts, “The OC” stands out as one of the state’s most iconic destinations. The always-amazing Disneyland Resort, roughly a 1-hour drive south of L.A. and 2 hours north of San Diego, continues to be one of the best-loved theme parks in the world, while Knott’s Berry Farms and other OC attractions amp up the fun metre.

“Surfing is like golf. . . it keeps knocking you down. But when you stay with it and catch that wave. . . magic.”  --actor Dennis Quaid

Shop at spectacular South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, or get the surfer look in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, USA. 

Newport Beach vc_luxuryminute_pelicanhill_supplied_coliseumpooloceanviewday_1280x640
Courtesy of Pelican Hill

The Resort at Pelican Hill

Indulge in Mediterranean elegance, world-class golf courses, and five-star service at this Newport Beach resort

Tuscan elegance paired with panoramic ocean views is central to the eternal allure of...

Newport Beach vc_irvine_irvinespectrumcenter_st_rm_486307227_1280x640
Mitch Diamond/Getty Images

Irvine

This centrally located Orange County city is the perfect home base for shopping, dining, and kid-friendly exploring

Irvine’s central location—72 kilometres from Los Angeles, 135 from San Diego, and 15 minutes from...

Orange County
Vacationland

4 Luxury Resorts in Orange County

Enjoy unparalleled views, world-class golf, fine dining, and much more at these high-end destinations

With long stretches of golden sand, prime surfing spots, excellent dining, and top golf courses, the good life doesn’t get much better than along...

Newport Beach VC_IrvineSpectrumCenter_Stock_Irvine-Spectrum-Center-at-Dusk-CMF-8483_1280x640
OC Stock Photos 2016

Irvine Spectrum Center

With a Ferris wheel and Spanish ambience, this shopping center expands the definition of “mall”

Southern California is known for its sunny, open-air shopping centers, but this outdoor mall in the heart of Orange County ups the ante with...

Newport Beach VC_California101_OrangeCounty_Stock_RF_EHT85D_1280x640
Jon Bilous/Alamy

Orange County’s Best Beaches

Visit these four idyllic, sun-drenched stretches of sand in Southern California

With 62 kilometres of sandy coastline and a string of small, eclectic beach towns, Orange County delivers the quintessential Southern California...

Newport Beach 1_SpotlightAnaheim_Opener_gty_RF_139695934_1280x640_downsized_0
Carsten Erler/Getty Images

Spotlight: Anaheim

Newport Beach vca_maps_orangecounty
Amazing attractions, shopping and dining in the one-of-a-kind Orange County town

With its laid back vibe and unbeatable attractions, this vibrant city on the northwest side of Orange County has become a popular destination for...

Newport Beach FF_VCW_D_OC_T10_BalboaBeach_Mansfield
Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776, was the first winery in California.
The magic of Disneyland, walking through the tunnel underneath the train station to Main Street, it just transports you to other places and other times.
John Lasseter
Newport Beach VCW_TI_8_hero_Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.35.53 AM_v3

Trip 4-5 days 10 stops

Pacific Coast Highway - South

Beach Towns, Iconic Theme Parks
Newport Beach VCW_D_SantaBarbara_Hero_CC_SBarbaraPier_KG_1280x642

Start your coastal cruise in this elegant city hugging the coastal mountains, where classic Spanish architecture gives the region a sun-washed European look straight out of the Riviera. Though Santa Barbara, nicknamed “the American Riviera,” may have a burnished antique look of much of the...

Newport Beach BalboaPark_night_1280x642

End your trip with at this sunny, waterfront city. Downtown, shop at Horton Plaza, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park. See the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Next, explore one of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, Little Italy, North Park, South Park, East Village—pedestrian-friendly...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Unleash the kid within at California’s ultimate play lands

From Disneyland classics to beachfront carousels, the Golden State’s best-in-class theme parks deliver something for everyone. Take a tram ride to tour movie back lots at Universal Studios...

Newport Beach AmazingThemeParks_preview_868x686
Lucas Himovitz
Orange County is the cultural center of the surf world and Huntington Beach is like the heartbeat.
Corky Carroll (Orange County surf legend)
Newport Beach VCW_D_OC_T4_Shopping_Manley1280x642
South Coast Plaza by Harriot Manley

O.C. Shopping

Discover boutique brands and bargains

Shopping in The O.C. is almost as legendary as surfing. Start at expansive South Coast Plaza, California’s largest luxury shopping complex, with...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

Newport Beach Shopping_SpecialFeature_preview_686x885_0
South Coast Plaza
July/August

With a nickname like “Surf City, U.S.A.,” Huntington Beach is the obvious place for this 9-day, sun-and-wave extravaganza, the world’s largest surf event. Top pros including Kelly Slater and Rob...

Newport Beach VansUSOpenSurfing_preview_686x885
Vans U.S. Open of Surfing by William Fovall/Flickr
Newport Beach vca_maps_orangecounty
SPECIAL FEATURE
Get into the coastal vibe

Maybe it’s the sun-streaked hair, the frequent smiles, the eyes always gazing west, looking to the horizon to see when the next set might roll in. It’s the unmistakable look and vibe of a...

Newport Beach VCW_TI_8_hero_Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.35.53 AM
Newport Beach vcw_ti_6_hero_cc_bigsur_coast_ts_1280x642_0

Trip 5-7 days 10 stops

Highway One Classic

Take the trip that captures the heart and soul of the Golden State
Newport Beach VC_GreatWolfLodge_Supplied_FamilyFun_1280x640
Courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

The hotel-meets-water-park chain brings its all-weather family fun to Orange County

At first glance, a completely indoor water-park hotel might seem unnecessary in sunny Orange County. Fans of the Great Wolf Lodge brand, however,...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Discover the awesome sports scene in the Golden State

With nearly twice as many professional teams as any other state, California is big league all the way. But the state’s sports scene goes far beyond football and baseball, with a diverse line-up of...

Newport Beach PebbleBeachProAm_ChristinaLauren_preview_686x885
Christina Lauren/Flickr
Newport Beach VCW_D_OC_T7_IMG_5467_1280x642
Crystal Cove State Park by Harriot Manley

Crystal Cove State Park

Stroll a perfect beach with an intriguing past

In 1912, an early Laguna Beach artist described finding a rugged coastline “with cove after cove and headland after headland, golden cliffs and...

SPECIAL FEATURE
From Gold Rush history to 8th wonders of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

Newport Beach McWayFalls_JPB_SP_preview_686x885
Amy Meredith/Flickr
December

Rated by The New York Times as one of the country's top holiday happenings, this glittering event is a must see in The OC during the holidays. Local boat owners lavishly decorate their vessels,...

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade by fortherock/Flickr
Newport Beach vca_maps_orangecounty
Newport Beach CTTC_Pelican_Golf3-047_sized_0
Pelican Bay

Golf in Orange County

Tee up at top courses, with some ocean views

With ideal Southern California weather and some of the country’s most celebrated courses, Orange County justly earns the nickname “California Golf...

Newport Beach VC_Kidifornia_YoungerKids_Disneyland_Supplied_1_09_DL_02683_1280x640
Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

Disneyland Resort for Younger Kids

Newport Beach vca_maps_orangecounty
A little fairytale fun plus some silly spots for open play equals a whole lot of magic

Flying elephants, giant teacups…there’s no debating that after for more than 60 years, this magical world of make-believe is still the...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

Newport Beach VCW_SI_VIP_T1_MichaelSaechang_preview_686x885
Photo by Michael Saechang/Flickr
Newport Beach FunFact_Great Park Balloon above the Palm Court Arts Complex_sized
Every year, the Orange County Great Park Balloon dons a smiling jack-o-lantern mask, marking the unofficial start of fall in Orange County.