A Weekend in: Newport Beach, CA
Undoubtedly one of my favorite spots this country has to offer, Newport Beach is full of fun things to do in a weekend’s time and has no shortage of good food, beautiful views, and incredible shopping. My parents have begun renting a house every July in the Corona del Mar area, and we’ve all quickly fallen in love with its charm and pleasant weather. I have yet to see a single raindrop through my entire five years of visiting this part of Orange County.
Parts of Newport Beach can certainly feel like you’re living in the Real Housewives of OC, but if you do it right, you can find all the most charming and adorable places and also avoid the ultimate tourist destinations. I’ll warn you — f you’re a fan of the beach, go during the week. The weekends are when the beaches get flooded with people, so avoid the crowds by going on a weekday morning when things are much quieter.
I also advise to make reservations at restaurants when possible because they can be quite busy. Some are worth the wait, though, so don’t give up if you’re told it’s a long wait! As always, send me any of your own personal recommendations for this part of the country! I can’t wait until the next time I get to go back.
Where to Stay
After visiting Newport Beach for several years, I think the best option is to stay in a house or condo, so I’d recommend going the Airbnb route. There are plenty of cute, affordable options that are close to the beach and close to shops and restaurants, as well. Corona del Mar would be my first pick, since it’s a little less touristy than the peninsula, and the houses on the quaint neighborhood streets are just to die for. One of my favorite things to do is just walk the streets (all named after flowers) and admire the beautiful newly built houses.
If you’d prefer a hotel experience, the Resort at Pelican Hill is a luxury hotel experience like no other. It offers luxurious hotel rooms and private villas and has a golf course, spa, multiple pool areas, stunning views of the ocean from the hills above, and fine dining. It’s not as close to town, so you’re pretty secluded while you’re at the resort, but it makes it all the more relaxing and peaceful, with town being only a 10 minute drive away.
Slightly less expensive would be the Hyatt Regency, which is also a little closer to town. It’s still perfectly luxurious with stunning views and a pool to swim in. You’ll also be a little closer to different activities, shopping, and dining in the area.
Evening: When you are all settled and ready for your evening cocktail, go grab some bottles of wine and disposable cups and drive to the marina, where you can rent Duffy boats to take out in the harbor and drive yourself. They’re as easy to drive as a golf cart, and you can have fun with friends and family while cruising thorough the harbor and admiring the stunning waterfront homes.
Dinner: To really feel the coastal vibes, Gulfstream gives you all the maritime experience possible without actually being on a boat. It’s right in the heart of Corona Del Mar and offers delicious, fresh food and good drinks, too. My favorite is the Chopped Vegetable Salad. There’s something for everyone at this restaurant.
Breakfast: One of my family’s favorite spots for breakfast is Haute Cakes, a quaint cafe tucked inside a small strip mall near Costa Mesa. They’ve got everything from the California staple of avocado toast to warm and fluffy pancakes, with delicious coffee to wash it all down. It gets a little crowded since it’s so small, but if you have to wait, send someone to stand in line while you peruse some of the shopping next door like James Perse and other nice shops.
Morning: After breakfast is a perfect time to explore Fashion Island and all the prime shopping Newport Beach has to offer. This mall is home to some of my favorite stores like Joie, Rebecca Taylor, Bloomingdales, Adriano Goldschmied, and many more. It’s also almost entirely open air, so it’s technically a fun outdoor activity for the whole group!
Lunch: Once you’re ready for food again, stop by Hopdoddy Burger Bar at the mall for a delicious burger or salad. This place has mastered them both, so anyone can be happy with this option. It’s super quick and casual, but they don’t skimp on taste.
Afternoon: A lovely afternoon activity is a trip to Balboa Island, You can walk across the bridge and stroll down the quaint streets, visiting nice shops while you’re at it. You may not find the banana-shaped stand like the one from Arrested Development, but you’ll certainly find frozen bananas with all sorts of toppings at several places along the way. Pop into Balboa Surf and Style to rent paddle boards for the afternoon. They’ll drive the paddle boards down to the water for you and you can stand-up paddle board through the entire bay. You may see a couple sea lions while you’re out there, but you’ll also get to admire some beautiful homes and take in the peacefulness of the water without a motor running.
Dinner: One of the best Italian experiences I’ve had (besides those actually in Italy), Modo Mio Rustic Italian Kitchen offers everything you would get at a fine dining establishment in Italy. The food is superb, the wine list is extensive, and it’s a great deal as well. They also have very interesting rotating artwork which I’m always excited to see when I visit.
Morning: Grab your sneakers, stop for coffee, and head to Crystal Cove State Park for some walking and hiking. You access the park at street level, then you can walk down the cliffs, admiring the views, until you reach the beach, which you can walk on for ages. Ultimately you’ll get a little hungry and there’s no better place to stop for a bite to eat than…
Brunch: The Beachcomber, which is arguably the most popular spot to eat in the Orange County coastal area. It’s got incredible breakfast and awesome lunch, so it really doesn’t matter what time you make it here. You’ll likely have to wait due to its popularity, but there’s no better place to wait than oceanfront with your toes in the sand! Then you’ll get to walk off all the delicious food with a hike back to the car. No better way to end your weekend!