Newport Beach locals header
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’re visiting Newport Beach and want to really experience it like a local instead of a tourist, the following is a list of the best places to visit to eat, and some great activities to take part in.
What To Do
(credit: Balboa Fun Zone)

(credit: Balboa Fun Zone)

Visit Balboa Island
(949) 760-8368

Located in the heart of Newport Beach, Balboa Island is one of the top destinations to visit for locals. It’s small, but it packs in a ton of quaint stores and restaurants, as well as pedestrian walkways. The island is 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.

Other activities include sport-fishing and whale watching at Davey’s Locker, or take part in some jet skiing, stand-up paddle boarding, guided sea tours and more water activities at Balboa Water Sports. If you want to be get more adventurous, visit Balboa Parasail and experience the thrill of floating through the air above the beautiful Pacific Ocean!

(credit: OC Parks)

(credit: OC Parks)

Visit The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
2301 University Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 923-2290

There is more to the Newport lifestyle than shopping, dining and the nightlife. If you’re looking to get some exercise in, and/or see some 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. In fact, it’s a mecca for bird watchers, joggers, bicyclists, hikers, horseback riders, educators and more. You can also camp at Newport Dunes Resort, which makes the reserve a desirable destination for families, as well as individuals.

(credit: Heather C./Yelp)

(credit: Heather C./Yelp)

Walk The Pier
801 E Ocean Front
Newport Beach, CA 92661

Located at Balboa Peninsula, The Newport Beach Pier is a top destination for locals. Offering stunning views, take a stroll to the end where a Ruby’s Diner awaits those who want to grab a bite!

Where To Eat
(credit: Mutt Lynch's)

(credit: Mutt Lynch’s)

Mutt Lynch’s
2300 W Oceanfront
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 675-1556

Mutt Lynch’s offers one of Newport’s most eclectic mixes of people. From newbies, out-of-towners and locals, it’s a favorite for everyone! 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 where guests enjoy large beers, and a large menu of casual food with a big Mexican influence. From tacos, burritos and wraps to burgers, reuben and tuna melt sandwiches and more, the menu is huge. They offer many beers too, including 38 draft beers ranging from Kona Longboard, Miller Lite and Coors to Heineken and Stella Artois, as well as ciders, and much more. Or, bottled beers, lagers and ciders are available to be ordered.

(credit: Javier's)

(credit: Javier’s)

Crystal Cove
7832 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Newport Beach, CA 92657
(949) 494-1239

Located on the famed Pacific Coast Highway in the southern end of Newport is a quaint nook called Newport Coast where you’ll find Javier’s Cantina. The restaurant, which serves delicious Mexican fare. From salads, including their chopped salad, or ones with shrimp, to their ‘Mole Poblano’ special with chicken breast and delicious mole sauce, Javiers offers a lengthy menu. The restaurant is a little more upscale than others and pricing can get pretty pricey, but its one of the top local Mexican restaurants in Newport Beach!

(credit: Ruby's Shake Shack)

(credit: Ruby’s Shake Shack)

Ruby’s Shake Shack
7703 E Coast Hwy
Newport Coast, CA 92657
(949) 464-0100

Shooby shooby down to Ruby’s, another great place where the locals and tourists meet. A throwback to the 1940s era of music, dates and diners, this Newport Beach favorite is located right off the Coast Highway and overlooks the ocean as it sits at the end of the Balboa Pier. Dining is outdoors on picnic tables. Menu items here include items for breakfast, lunch and dinner like their ‘Ruby Rings,’ or crispy onion rings, as well as salads, nachos, and of course burgers and fries.

(credit: SOL Cocina)

(credit: SOL Cocina)

SOL Cocina
251 Pacific Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 675-9800

Set on Pacific Coast Highway, SOL Cocina is an upscale, Baja inspired Mexican restaurant offering a truly unique and authentic dining experience which celebrates the flavors and traditions of Mexico. With an ever changing array of fresh seafood and seasonal food ingredients, locals dine on brunch, lunch and dinner options that include their “Naked Guacamole” with haas avocados, cilantro and lime with onions, serrano and tomatoes, as well as sopas, specialty tacos, tortas, taco plates, quesadillas, burritos and much more. A vast cocktail list also is available to sip from too!

(credit: The Cannery)

(credit: The Cannery)

The Cannery
3010 Lafayette Rd
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 566-0060

Looking for a delicious seafood restaurant right on the water? Well, Newport Beach’s Cannery restaurant has you covered. Locals love having dinner here whether they’re sitting on the patio or inside. With an great ambience and food that is always consistently good, it’s a favorite of locals who dine on a variety of fresh seafood, steaks, chicken, salads, and the finest sushi and sashimi in Newport Beach. The kitchen uses only wild, line-caught fish too, so you know if you’re ordering a seafood dish, it’s going to be really fresh! The bar comes complete with a variety of liquors, cognacs, beers, ports and sakes too to enjoy with your meal.

Michelle Mears-Gerst is a writer in South Orange County who can also be found @Sunnynsocal.