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.

Newport Beach in CaliforniaNewport Beach

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.

Map of Newport Beach in CaliforniaNewport Beach Map (c) Google Maps

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.

Surfing at Newport Beach in CaliforniaSurfing at Newport Beach

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.

The Lovely Long Beach in Newport BeachThe Lovely Long Beach in Newport Beach

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.

Paddleboarding at Newport BeachPaddleboarding at Newport Beach

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 at Newport BeachFashion 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. 

Santa Catalina Island

You can get ferries from Newport Beach to the unique Santa Catalina Island, well worth a trip of a day or more.

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 in Newport Beach

More California coast pages

  • La Jolla in southern California is north of San Diego off the Pacific Coast Highway and has museums, restaurants, hotels, beaches, and the Birch Aquarium.

    La Jolla, in southern California

    La Jolla in southern California is north of San Diego off the Pacific Coast Highway and has museums, restaurants, hotels, beaches, and the Birch Aquarium.

  • San Luis Obispo in California is half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, on the Pacific Coast Highway and with lots of things to do and see.

    San Luis Obispo

    San Luis Obispo in California is half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, on the Pacific Coast Highway and with lots of things to do and see.

  • Pacific Grove is a small city on the California coast, next to Monterey and close to Carmel, with attractions including its historic Victorian houses.

    Pacific Grove

    Pacific Grove is a small city on the California coast, next to Monterey and close to Carmel, with attractions including its historic Victorian houses.

  • The Point Reyes National Seashore is an hour’s drive northwest of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway and is maintained by the National Park Service.

    Point Reyes National Seashore

    The Point Reyes National Seashore is an hour’s drive northwest of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway and is maintained by the National Park Service.

  • Santa Monica in California is famous for its pier, and beaches, and is one of the best west coast vacation spots, with hotels, restaurants, surfing, museums.

    Santa Monica, California

    Santa Monica in California is famous for its pier, and beaches, and is one of the best west coast vacation spots, with hotels, restaurants, surfing, museums.

  • Encinitas is a beach city in Southern California, famous for surfing, and regularly chosen as one of the best places to live in both California and the USA.

    Encinitas

    Encinitas is a beach city in Southern California, famous for surfing, and regularly chosen as one of the best places to live in both California and the USA.

  • A walk around the Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey and Carmel provides lots of photo opportunities, especially of the Harbor Seal Birthing Area.

    Point Lobos State Reserve near Carmel and Monterey, with photos

    A walk around the Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey and Carmel provides lots of photo opportunities, especially of the Harbor Seal Birthing Area.

  • One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

    California Coast Guide

    One of the best California coast guides is the California Coastal Access Guide, describing the coast’s beaches, National Parks, State Parks, with many maps.

  • Mendocino in Mendocino County is a small but pretty California coastal town, popular with artists and with travelers. It has featured in many songs and movies.

    Mendocino

    Mendocino in Mendocino County is a small but pretty California coastal town, popular with artists and with travelers. It has featured in many songs and movies.

  • Santa Monica Pier is just off the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica near Los Angeles, with an amusement park, an aquarium and many other attractions.

    Santa Monica Pier

    Santa Monica Pier is just off the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica near Los Angeles, with an amusement park, an aquarium and many other attractions.

  • Morro Bay is a delightful small town on the California coast roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and noted for the huge Morro Rock.

    Morro Bay

    Morro Bay is a delightful small town on the California coast roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and noted for the huge Morro Rock.

  • The Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino on the California coast is an eco-resort with yoga classes and the award-winning Ravens Restaurant.

    Stanford Inn by the Sea Mendocino

    The Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino on the California coast is an eco-resort with yoga classes and the award-winning Ravens Restaurant.

  • Standing on the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Santa Barbara is an attractive resort with a historic downtown, sandy beaches, a mission, and good museums.

    Santa Barbara

    Standing on the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Santa Barbara is an attractive resort with a historic downtown, sandy beaches, a mission, and good museums.

  • Malibu is a beach city north of Los Angeles famous for the celebrities who live there in expensive homes and the Pacific Coast Highway runs through it and there are beaches and hikes for all to enjoy.

    Malibu

    Malibu is a beach city north of Los Angeles famous for the celebrities who live there in expensive homes and the Pacific Coast Highway runs through it and there are beaches and hikes for all to enjoy.

  • Monterey in California is off the Pacific Coast Highway and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Monterey State Historic Park.

    Monterey, on the Pacific Coast Highway in California

    Monterey in California is off the Pacific Coast Highway and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Monterey State Historic Park.

  • Carlsbad is a beach city north of San Diego in southern California famous for its flower fields, LEGOLAND resort and water park, surfing and SEA LIFE Aquarium.

    Carlsbad

    Carlsbad is a beach city north of San Diego in southern California famous for its flower fields, LEGOLAND resort and water park, surfing and SEA LIFE Aquarium.

  • The Pacific Coast Highway goes right through Laguna Beach, a relaxed artsy beach resort whose attractions include shopping, galleries, dining, and beaches.

    Laguna Beach

    The Pacific Coast Highway goes right through Laguna Beach, a relaxed artsy beach resort whose attractions include shopping, galleries, dining, and beaches.

  • San Simeon is a tiny town of a few hundred people close to Hearst Castle on the California coast midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

    San Simeon

    San Simeon is a tiny town of a few hundred people close to Hearst Castle on the California coast midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

  • The Casa Laguna Hotel and Spa in Laguna Beach is right on the Pacific Coast Highway and has luxury rooms, a swimming pool, and real gourmet breakfasts.

    Laguna Beach Inn and Spa

    The Casa Laguna Hotel and Spa in Laguna Beach is right on the Pacific Coast Highway and has luxury rooms, a swimming pool, and real gourmet breakfasts.

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

    Pismo Beach

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

  • Drive the Pacific Coast Highway and you have to cross Bixby Bridge in California, ten miles north of Big Sur and 30 minutes south of Monterey.

    Bixby Bridge

    Drive the Pacific Coast Highway and you have to cross Bixby Bridge in California, ten miles north of Big Sur and 30 minutes south of Monterey.

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

    Whale Watching in California

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

  • Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway in California has its famous boardwalk, beaches, wine tastings, Surfing Museum, Mission, and Marine Discovery Center.

    Santa Cruz

    Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast Highway in California has its famous boardwalk, beaches, wine tastings, Surfing Museum, Mission, and Marine Discovery Center.

  • Crescent City is on the Pacific Coast Highway in northern California and noted for its crescent-shaped beach, Ocean World sea park, and nearby redwoods and state parks.

    Crescent City

    Crescent City is on the Pacific Coast Highway in northern California and noted for its crescent-shaped beach, Ocean World sea park, and nearby redwoods and state parks.

  • The Pelican Inn and Suites in Cambria on California's Central Coast has oceanfront views, swimming pool, gardens, and is right on the beach near Hearst Castle.

    Pelican Inn and Suites in Cambria on the Central Coast of California

    The Pelican Inn and Suites in Cambria on California's Central Coast has oceanfront views, swimming pool, gardens, and is right on the beach near Hearst Castle.



Recent Articles

  1. Touring Alcatraz

    Jan 30, 23 04:51 PM

    alcatraz-island-pixabay.jpg
    Touring Alcatraz, the former island prison, is one of the best things to do in San Francisco and attracts over 1.5 million visitors a year.

    Read More

  2. Pacific Coast Highway Reopens Wednesday Morning After Flooding

    Jan 26, 23 12:20 PM

    The Tuesday closure was caused by flooding and prompted safety officials to shut down both sides of the highway in Huntington Beach.

    Read More

  3. San Diego Zoo

    Jan 23, 23 06:19 PM

    san-diego-zoo-pixabay-gorilla.jpg
    San Diego Zoo is in Balboa Park, San Diego, California has been called the best zoo in the world and is the most visited zoo in the United States.

    Read More