Newport Beach

Newport Beach is a small city on the Pacific coast of southern California, right on the Pacific Coast Highway and noted for its beaches and surfing.

Most places along this stretch of coast south of Los Angeles have fairly straightforward layouts, lining the beach for a few miles with the Pacific Coast Highway running through them in a more or less straight line. Not Newport Beach, however, as this Google Map shows.

If you drive through on the Pacific Coast Highway without stopping, you won't really notice the make-up of Newport Beach, but you will miss seeing where a lot of the action is, out on the Balboa Peninsula. This long peninsula almost encloses Newport Beach Harbor, in which there are several artificial islands.

The two biggest are Balboa Island and Lido Isle. These are both totally covered in housing, and surrounded by boat moorings, jetties, and small piers, with not an inch of space to be seen! In total there are an estimated 9,000 boats in Newport Harbor, making it one of the largest recreational harbors on the west coast.

The water then extends inland in a series of waterways, firstly in Lower Newport Bay and then Upper Newport Bay. You get a lot of water for your money in Newport Beach! There's quite a lot of green space too by way of parks and nature reserves, making it a very pleasant place to spend a few days.

Newport Beach History

With an abundant supply of water it isn't surprising that Newport Beach was initially attractive to Native American tribes, till settlers began to arrive in the 19th century and the town started to grow up. In 1905 the railway opened, connecting Newport Beach to Los Angeles, bringing a huge increase in visitors and people looking to live here.

Things to Do in Newport Beach

Activities here inevitably revolve around the beaches and the ocean. There are several excellent beaches, and the town is good for surfing and other water sports. There are fishing charters as well, and whale watching tours are popular with companies like Newport Landing Whale Watching. You can also do harbor boat tours, which are fun, spotting the homes of some of the many celebrities who choose to live here.

Shopping

Being a pretty upscale kind of a place, Newport Beach is a very good destination for shopping, ranging from the luxury to the bargain. Fashion Island is the city's main shopping mall, just off the Pacific Coast Highway and with stores like Apple, Bloomingdale's, Armani, Bose, Gucci, and lots of eating options too.

Fashion Island

Sports and Outdoor Activities

Newport Beach is a good city for cycling around, especially along the long boardwalk, and there are several golf courses within easy driving distance. You'll also see plenty of rollerbladers and joggers.

Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is a 20-minute drive south from Newport Beach, almost in Laguna Beach. It covers several miles of coastline either side of the Pacific Coast Highway, and indeed extends under the ocean too. Its tide pools are popular with kids, and its beaches popular with everyone. Over 180 different species of birds have been observed in the park, and there are several species of snakes here as well, so watch out if walking around.

Other Wildlife Spots

The Upper Newport Bay State Marine Conservation Area is good for wildlife, especially birds, and you can go hiking and kayaking, amongst other activities. It's only about ten minutes drive from PCH. The San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is 300 acres of wetland, which naturally attracts lots of birds, both resident and migrating. It has about 10 miles (16 km) of wheelchair-accessible hiking and biking trails, if you want to get out of your car and stretch your legs. It's about a 15-minute drive off the Pacific Coast Highway. 

Christmas in Newport Beach

Read our page on the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade!

More Information

This only skims the surface of the many things to do in Newport Beach, and for more details see the Visit Newport Beach website.

Where to Stay

You might like these

  • Whale Watching in California

    Whale watching in California is one of the most popular things to do along the Pacific Coast Highway, inplaces like San Diego, San Francisco and many more.

  • Pismo Beach

    Pismo Beach is a small beach town on California's Central Coast, a resort famous for surfing and clams.

  • Visiting Hearst Castle

    This Visiting Hearst Castle page gives all the practicalities including location, types of tour, length of tours, how long to allow, and much more information.

  • Vagabond's House Inn

    Historic and romantic Vagabond's House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Carmel is a great place to stay with free wine and cheese and generous breakfast.

  • Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway

    Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway include some of the best independently-owned boutique hotels, spas, and lodges in California, Oregon and Washington.



Recent Articles

  1. Billie Eilish's producer brother Finneas, 23, drops $5.2 million on small Malibu beachfront home

    Sep 24, 20 03:41 AM

    He's a music producer best known for his work with younger sister Billie Eilish. And now Finneas O'Connell, 23, has splashed out $5.2 million on a small beachfront home in Malibu, Variety reported Wed…

    Read More

  2. Wildfires hit tourism industry still reeling from pandemic

    Sep 20, 20 03:16 AM

    This is supposed to the time of year for clear skies in Morro Bay. The fog, when it comes in at all, usually lifts by noon, says Mary Robinson the owner of Paddlesports Morro Bay.

    Read More

  3. Take up surfing during the pandemic? California Surfing Day is a good chance for a cultural intro

    Sep 19, 20 03:26 AM

    One of the unexpected outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic: the surge in surfing. Since the pandemic hit earlier this year, people have sought refuge outdoors to escape the confines of their homes. Th…

    Read More