Before I met my husband, Justin, in 2006 (whaaaat?) I only knew of Newport Beach from the TV show the OC (and apparently also visiting it as a kid with my family, which none of us actually seem to remember!). Fortunately, I got to visit a few times before we eventually decided to settle here. It’s such a great city to spend a warm, summer’s day (or pretty much any time of the year as the weather is consistently perfect) and there are so many fun things to do.
When my younger sister and her boyfriend visited us for a road trip, we made sure to have a day in Newport Beach to kick start their vacation. We had a lot of fun and we didn’t even do everything on this list. I would definitely recommend at least a couple of days here if you like the beach and outdoor activities. Here are some of the fun things you have to do if you visit Newport Beach (and you should).
Cycle Up The Boardwalk
The beach in Newport Beach runs along the peninsula (a good place to base yourself if you are visiting for a few days). When Tamsin and Guido were here we started the day by cycling up (and back down) the boardwalk, something I regularly do myself to get to a yoga class. It’s a couple of miles long and you can cycle nearly the whole length of the peninsula. You pass by two piers surrounded by shops and cafes which are always a hub of activity. Don’t be surprised if you get a few high fives along the way during busy summer or holiday periods!
l love going down to the wedge. It’s a section right at the end of the peninsula (the boardwalk ends before there so just cycle the extra few minutes down the road- the neighbourhood is really pretty around here) where the jetty is and boats come into harbor. Sometimes the waves are crazy big there and, in warmer weather, there are loads of body surfers. I even saw a whale there once. In summer and early autumn it was my ritual to go to the beach on a Friday afternoon, then walk down to the wedge to hang out for a bit- it’s such a fun atmosphere when it gets busy.
Mini Ferry Across The Harbor
The mini ferry is fun and a convenient way to get to Balboa island (next on the list) from the peninsula. It fits 3 cars and a bunch of foot passengers and bikes. We always go across on our bikes as we live so close. There are often a bunch of seals hanging out in the harbor. Or opposite our house keeping us awake at night…
Balboa Island is so cute. When you get off the ferry, just head to the right and you eventually come to main street. There are lots of little shops and cafes- get there early on a weekend to try Blue Chair Bakery’s cinnamon roles and coffee. Grab one of the public benches along the street and sit back and enjoy them in the sunshine. Balboa Island is also the place to try a frozen banana or Balboa bar. There’s also a sweet little museum filled with photos of the island’s history- albeit a brief history by British standards, but it’s still worth a stop.
Paddle Boarding/Kayaking In The Harbor
I love to paddle board, but kayaking is a good option too. There are several places to rent from in Newport Beach. In the past I always went to Paddlepower as it’s in a good location and I can leave my bike in the nearby bike racks, but there are other places too. Now I’m a member of Classpass I get to rent boards and go to paddle board yoga classes with Bliss Paddle Yoga. If you’re interesting in trying paddle board yoga, I would definitely check them out. It’s really not as hard as people think and it’s a lovely way to spend a sunny morning.
Swim In The Ocean/Play On The Beach.
My favourite part of the beach is at the far end of the peninsular- it’s nice and quiet down there. But the most groomed part is between the two piers- close to Newport Pier. I swam in the ocean a lot last summer. We also had a lot of fun when Tamsin and Guido were here- playing whiffle ball and throwing a football (American football!).
Hiking At Crystal Cove
We don’t often visit the lovely beach here, as we already live so close to one. But we love going there to hike. It’s so nice to hike with a view of the ocean in the distance. Be warned- most of the parking spots require you to pay $15. There are a lot of different trails so you can hike all kinds of different distances- from a couple of miles to all day. You can even camp at Crystal Cove if you wish.
If you really get bored of the outdoors, or you unluckily arrive on one of the few rainy days, then you can always just go shopping! Fashion Island is a good looking outdoor mall with plenty of big name brands. The OC Mix is a really cute place with independent stores and good coffee or you can visit The Camp and The Lab- the so-called “anti-malls”.
Watch The Sunset
A day in Newport Beach has to be finished off with a sunset. Nine times out of ten it’s a stunner. Pick your spot on the beach, relax and enjoy.
So there you have it- my favourite, fun things to do in Newport Beach. When I’m not chained to my laptop, or eating, or at some random but fun exercise class, this is pretty much what I spend my time doing.
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