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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.
Newport 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
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
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 Beach
Things to Do in
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 Beach
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.
Sports and Outdoor
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
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
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
Read our page on the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade!
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
There are lots of free things to do on the Pacific Coast Highway and here's our list of ten of them including wildlife, the best free views, and free museums.
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.
Pacific Coast Highway Travel's list of the best beaches in California with beaches in Santa Monica, Big Sur, Malibu, Carmel, Cambria, La Jolla and Coronado.
The Pacific Coast Highway goes right through Laguna Beach, a relaxed artsy beach resort whose attractions include shopping, galleries, dining, and beaches.
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.
Oceanside is a typical southern California beach town with a surf culture and with the Pacific Coast Highway running right through it.
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.
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.
There are plenty of Santa Cruz downtown wine tastings including Beauregard Vineyards,Storrs Winery and Pelican Ranch Winery,all with tasting rooms.
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.
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.
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.
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.
San Clemente in California is a small city on the Pacific Coast Highway midway between San Diego and Los Angeles, noted for its beaches and surfing.
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.
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.
Santa Catalina Island, or Catalina Island, is off the shore of Southern California and reachable from Long Beach, San Pedro, Newport Beach, and Dana Point.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Pacific Grove is a small city on the California coast, next to Monterey and close to Carmel, with attractions including its historic Victorian houses.
Unique Inns on the Pacific Coast Highway include some of the best independently-owned boutique hotels, spas, and lodges in California, Oregon and Washington.
For a Moss Beach hotel just off the Pacific Coast Highway, the Seal Cove Inn offers good accommodation north of Half Moon Bay, minutes from the ocean.
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