Newport Beach is known as Orange County’s coastal fantasy land, a town that tries to offer up a “taste of the perfect life.” Newport is a collection of unique islands and neighborhoods that form their own distinct character, quaintness, casual glamor and attention to detail. If you would like to visit Newport and experience it like a local instead of a tourist, the following is a list of some places to visit. Take note the following vary in price ranges and dress attire, which is the beauty of a beach town — the locals wear flip-flops too.
2300 West Oceanfront
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Mutt’s has one of Newport’s most eclectic mixes of newbies, out-of-towners and locals around. Located on the Newport Beach Peninsula, it is a beachfront version of “Cheers,” where everyone knows your name. Since 1976, Mutt Lynch’s has been Orange County’s No. 1 dive bar. You will enjoy large beers — larger than should be allowed food in a casual beach atmosphere. Dress casual, wear flip-flops and leave the black socks and sandals at home – after all this is still Newport.
Balboa Island has been said to be the home to the fattest cats and the worlds most spoiled dogs. If that is the case, then you are sure to have fun sightseeing on the island that was once a sandpit. Homes once sold for $250 but today many are worth millions of dollars. Tourists come in droves during the summer so if you are lucky enough to visit Newport before Memorial Day, make this a must-stop visit. Balboa Island is a quaint throwback to simpler times, with an eclectic strip of stores and restaurants on Marine Avenue and a pedestrian walkway, which circles the island. It’s accessible from the Balboa peninsula via a short car-passenger ferry, or you can drive over a bridge from the Pacific Coast Highway. Once on the island, you can shop, dine, view the inlet waterways and beautiful beach homes, or ride a bike.
7832 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Newport Beach, CA 92657
Maestro’s Ocean Club
8112 East Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92657
Located on Pacific Coast Highway in the southern end of Newport is a quaint nook called Newport Coast. Stop here on your way to Laguna Beach and find both chain and private retailers. The Crystal Cove shopping center is breathtaking as it is located overlooking the ocean. Locals enjoy meeting up at Javier’s or Maestros for an upscale beachy atmosphere.
Ruby’s Shake Shack
7703 E Coast Hwy
Newport Coast, CA 92657
Shooby shooby down to Ruby’s, another great place where the locals and tourists meet. Ruby’s is a throwback to the 1940s era of music, dates and diners. The Shake Shack is located right off the Coast Highway and overlooks the ocean. Dining is outdoors on picnic tables.
Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
2301 University Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
There is more to the Newport lifestyle than shopping, dining and the nightlife. When you are tired of being part of the in-crowd, take a break and get back to nature. Visit the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and enjoy 1,000 acres of open space. Of all county facilities, Upper Newport Bay is one of the best in Orange County for recreation and wildlife viewing. This place is a mecca for bird watchers, joggers, bicyclists, hikers, horseback riders, educators and more. You can also camp at Newport Dunes Resort, which makes this place a desirable destination for families, as well as individuals.
Michelle Mears-Gerst is a writer in South Orange County who can also be found @Sunnynsocal.