Best Activities To Do In Newport Beach

January 6, 2017 8:50 PM

(Credit: California State Parks, 2016)

(Credit: California State Parks, 2016)


As what is possibly the most famous coastal city in Orange County, Newport Beach has so much to offer both locals and travelers. Calling the area picturesque would be putting it mildly; the stunning beaches and dusky blue waters are ideal for exploring the outdoors. Whether you’re swimming through the waves, hunting for whales, learning to surf or hiking atop the cliffs, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enchant visitors. But the fun doesn’t end there. With upscale shops, luxury spas and even a winery, Newport really does have it all.

(Credit: Ashley Ryan)

(Credit: Ashley Ryan)


Go to the Beach
Corona del Mar State Beach
3100 Ocean Boulevard
Newport Beach, CA 92625
(949) 644-3151
www.parks.ca.gov

Corona del Mar is one of the most stunning beaches not just in Newport, but in California as a whole. Bordered on one side by a jetty that leads boats out of the harbor, the beach forms a natural cove that —thanks to the jetty — has gentler waves that are perfect for swimming and there is plenty of space to launch kayaks. The jetty gives visitors a chance to walk out further and watch the boats come and go. Adjacent to the main beach, there is a small cliff; climb over it to reach a tiny cove, commonly called Little Corona, that has caves to explore and a private area to splash around in. With fire pits on site as well, it’s easy to come early and stay late without running out of things to do.

(Credit: The Irvine Company. © The Irvine Company LLC 2016. All Rights Reserved.)

(Credit: The Irvine Company. © The Irvine Company LLC 2016. All Rights Reserved.)


Shop at Fashion Island
401 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 721-2000
www.shopfashionisland.com

Easily the best place for shopping in Newport Beach, this open-air mall has numerous high-class shops, upscale restaurants and beautifully designed walkways. With views overlooking the ocean, which is less than a mile away, spending the day soaking up the sun while shopping here – window or otherwise – is a treat. With Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus plus an Apple Store, there are plenty of big names to draw people in. But, stores like Tommy Bahama, Ray-Ban, Anthropologie and Sperry are basically an extension of the local vibe. Some of the stores host events as well. For example, Lululemon’s offers free in-store yoga classes, and the center itself also organizes weekend entertainment and a massive Christmastime tree lighting party.

(Credit: California State Parks, 2016)

(Credit: California State Parks, 2016)


Hike the Seaside Cliffs
Crystal Cove State Park
6803 East Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92657
(949) 494-3539
www.crystalcovestatepark.com

The hills over Pacific Coast Highway are home to some of the best hiking trails in Orange County, offering 18 miles of paths overlooking the pristine cove and expansive ocean. While other beaches in Newport are often crowded, the beach at Crystal Cove is a little further out of town and harder to reach so there are usually less people milling around. The trails wind atop the hillsides alongside coastal plants as well as down into a canyon below, where Moro Creek winds through a wooded area. There are trails of varying difficulties, but the largest loop trail meanders over rolling hills, making for a good workout. With views of the hills, mountains, ocean and sometimes even Catalina Island in the distance, it’s a scenic way to spend the day.

(Credit: Mark Girardeau)

(Credit: Mark Girardeau)


Go Whale Watching
Davey’s Locker Whale Watching
400 Main Street
Newport Beach, CA 92661
(949) 673-1434
www.daveyslocker.com

Although going to the beach is one of the most obvious pastimes in Newport Beach, whale watching is pretty high on the list as well. Orange County has plenty of activity when it comes to whales passing through, as they migrate between places like Alaska, Mexico and Hawaii. From May through September, giant blue whales roam the warm waters, while October through April is ideal for sighting grey whales. Humpback whales are also visible throughout the year as are smaller animals like dolphins, seals, sea lions, birds and more. Whale watching is a great way to observe these creatures in their own environments as well as to see how they move, how often they breathe and, for humpbacks especially, dazzling displays when they breach the water. Davey’s Locker’s sister company, Newport Landing Whale Watching, is also based out of the Balboa Pavilion so you have two options.

(Credit: Orange Coast Winery)

(Credit: Orange Coast Winery)


Go Wine Tasting
Orange Coast Winery
869 West 16th Street
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 645-0400
www.orangecoastwinery.com

While tasting rooms aren’t all that rare in Orange County, they tend to feature craft beers rather than wine. But, Newport Beach being the glorious city that it is, offers a chance for wine tasting not far from the coast. Orange Coast Winery, the owners of which own vineyards both in Temecula and Northern California, is the quintessential spot for Orange County tastings. Their selection of wines includes everything from Merlot and Petite Sirah to Viognier and Muscat. Pair the wine with an artisanal cheese platter or a flatbread to round out your experience. Even without the views of rolling vineyards out the window, it’s a delightful experience. And, they sell wine to take home with you if you find something you really like.

(Credit: Orange County Museum of Art)

(Credit: Orange County Museum of Art)


View Artwork
Orange County Museum of Art
850 San Clemente Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 759-1122
www.ocma.net

Art museums are few and far between in Orange County, but the Orange County Museum of Art stands out regardless, showcasing brilliant displays of modern and contemporary artwork. While their exhibitions feature international art as well as domestic, most of the focus is on California artists—from the early 20th century to today. The museum’s collection features over 3,000 works of art as well as pieces from temporary exhibitions, including Lake Albano painted by landscape painter George Inness on loan from the Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. (pictured). Though the exhibits are constantly changing, there are three that will run through December 4, 2016. They include American Mosaic: Picturing Modern Art Through the Eye of Duncan Phillips, Brian Bress: Make Your Own Friends, Li Hui: V and The Pacific Project: Zheng Chongbin. Early 2017 will feature a pop art exhibit including works by Andy Warhol among others.

(Credit: Tim Reda)

(Credit: Tim Reda)


Take Surf Lessons
Endless Sun Surf School
70 Newport Pier
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 533-1022
endlesssunsurf.weebly.com

Now in operation for more than 50 years, Endless Sun Surf School has proven that their lessons are the best around. Situated right next to the Newport Beach pier, locals and visitors alike will have a great shot at getting up on the board. In fact, the beach next to the pier is one of the best for first-timers. Learn from professional surfers who double as instructors, ready to get you moving across the water each and every day of the year. Both surfboards and wetsuits are provided with your lesson so you don’t need to bring anything but yourself. Aside from private lessons, the school also offers a summer surf camp as well as a women’s class two days a week. All ages are welcome to try their hand (or feet) with Endless Sun’s lessons.

(Credit: Courtesy of Pelican Hill)

(Credit: Courtesy of Pelican Hill)


Get a Massage
The Spa at Pelican Hill
22701 South Pelican Hill Road
Newport Coast, CA 92657
(888) 507-6427
www.pelicanhill.com

Pelican Hill Resort, which sits in the hills along the picturesque Newport Coast, offers only the best service – making any massage you choose at their spa an incredible one. The luxurious atmosphere couples with the stylish décor to create an ultra relaxing environment. Feeling like a massage? Their 22 treatment rooms are home to massages that range from 30 to 80 minutes. The quickest option, the Pronto Massage, uses Swedish massage techniques to work the back, shoulders and the neck. Their Terra Stone Massage combines basalt stones and essential oils to facilitate healing and circulation, and they even have a Global Traditions Massage that includes techniques from around the world (along with herbs and unique pressure points). Pelican Hill also offers a couple’s massage option, called the Duet Massage, with the choice of a few different treatment options. Aside from massages, the property is incredibly beautiful to wander around, and it offers great restaurants to dine at as well.

Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She blogs at Pure Wander and freelances for a variety of publications including Newport Beach Magazine and Laguna Beach Magazine.

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