Newport Beach is all about the good life. It's a recreational paradise, with a mild, sunny climate, pleasant sea breezes, and countless ways to have fun.
Newport Bay is the centerpiece -- the crown jewel -- of the city, with its manmade islands and peninsulas, miles of sandy beaches, and the largest (and prettiest?) small yacht harbor in the world. You'll find countless ways to have fun in this lovely Southern California city.
Head out to Balboa Peninsula, a narrow finger of land protecting Newport Bay from the Pacific Ocean. There, you'll find the Balboa Pavilion, a Newport Beach landmark since 1905, when it began life as a Victorian bath house. Now it's a mini-amusement park known as the Fun Zone, complete with carousel, ferris wheel, bumper cars and arcade games.
You can also embark on a narrated harbor cruise, where you'll see the homes of the rich and famous. Or choose from whale watching cruises, excursions to Catalina Island, and fishing charters. If you're feeling romantic, try a gondola tour through the narrow canals of the bay. If adventurous, go parasailing or rent just about any kind of water craft, including kayaks, sailboats, motorboats and party pontoons.
You can take the ferry from Balboa Peninsula to Balboa Island, a picturesque community, where you'll find a mix of architectural styles, unique shops, galleries, restaurants and several small parks and beaches. Park your car, because Balboa was made for strolling.
With nine miles of sandy beaches, Newport Beach affords you plenty of opportunity to enjoy surf and sun. Popular activities include swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and beach volleyball. Surfers enjoy some of Southern California’s best waves along the Balboa Peninsula, and bodysurfers head to the big waves at The Wedge (experts only, please!). Stroll, bicycle or rollerblade along the beach boardwalks, or head to Little Corona to explore the tidepools.
Nature lovers will enjoy Upper Newport Ecological Reserve, a 754 acre coastal wetland. Go bicycling or hiking along the 10 mile loop trail. Free two hour nature walks are held every Saturday and Sunday. The reserve is home to over 200 bird species, including brown pelicans, peregrine falcons, and roadrunners. In addition, Newport Beach has 37 parks with 73 miles of trails and 154 acres for you to explore.
You can shop till you drop in Newport Beach. Fashion Island is Newport's premier shopping experience. This open air retail center has the look and charm of a Mediterranean village -- one with over 200 specialty shops, upscale department stores, numerous restaurants, and a seven screen movie theater.
Just around the corner from Fashion Island is the Orange County Museum of Art, which boasts a collection of nearly 5,000 objects. The museum focuses on the art of California from the early 20th century to present.
You'll also find many unique shops, designer boutiques and art galleries in Corona del Mar, Balboa Island and Lido Marina Village.
Photos courtesy of Newport Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau