Newport Beach VC_NewportBeach_CoronaDelMar_Stock_RF_EHNYRW_1280x640
Jon Bilous/Alamy

Newport Beach

Newport Beach
Old California charm meets modern glamour

Look one way in Newport Beach, and you’ll see oceanfront mansions and a yacht-lined harbor. Look another, and you’ll find historic cottages, dive bars, and a friendly controversy about ice cream bars. With its mix of high-end living and world-class surfing waves, Newport Beach offers both luxury and beach-town delights.

Like any glamorous icon of a certain age, this coastal town has changed its identity a few times over the years. Back in the 1830s, Newport Beach was a rancho known as Bolsa de San Joaquin, owned by a settler who preferred livestock to seafaring: he had 14,000 head of cattle and 3,000 horses, but no boats. Over the next century, the community first changed its name to Newport—in the 1870s, when the main industry was commercial shipping—then to Newport Beach in 1902. After that, the town increasingly attracted tourists and Hollywood elite such as Shirley Temple (crowned the first Miss Newport Beach at age 13), James Cagney (said to have won Collins Island in a poker game), and John Wayne, who moved here permanently in the early 1960s.

The city’s heart and soul still revolve around the harbor, which comprises two bodies of water. There’s Upper Newport Bay, an ecological reserve ringed by a 10-mile loop trail that attracts birders, joggers, equestrians, and cyclists. The four-mile-long Lower Newport Bay, meanwhile, features lovely shops and restaurants—especially in Cannery Village, Balboa Peninsula, and Balboa Island. The town also has a thriving surf scene, thanks to more than 8 miles of beaches and the bodysurfers’ bucket-list spot known as the Wedge, with raucous waves that can easily reach 20 feet in height.

Shirley Temple was crowned Miss Newport Beach at age 13, while James Cagney is rumored to have won Collins Island in a poker game.

But even with the many changes, you’ll see traces of both old and new in Newport Beach. Go to historic Dory Fleet Market, founded in 1891 and operating as a fish market ever since. It sits near popular seaside restaurants such as Bluewater Grill, Fly ’N’ Fish Oyster Bar, and Bear Flag Fish Co. Note how some folks around here do the “dock and dine”—pulling their boats up to a restaurant for dinner. You can even take a Hornblower Cruises tour of John Wayne’s old yacht, the Wild Goose, and catch a view of his oceanfront manse. Belying his cowboy image, the Duke was reportedly once a bodysurfer himself.

Then browse the boutiques of the Corona del Mar neighborhood, or go to the open-air Fashion Island, home to high-end retail stores as well as June’s annual Newport Beach Jazz Festival. Come to town in spring and you can watch screenings at the Newport Beach Film Festival. “When we set out to found the film festival in 1999,” says festival director Greg Schwenk, “we could think of no more beautiful spot to hold it in than Newport Beach.” Schwenk’s favorite festival memory: listening to Richard Sherman, who penned the music and lyrics for Mary Poppins, playing songs from the movie on the baby grand at the Island Hotel.

Beyond any glitz, Newport offers a few small but sweet luxuries—and one long-standing disagreement. Sugar ’n Spice and Dad’s, each on Balboa Island’s Marine Avenue, are proud of their frozen, chocolate-dipped bananas, and both claim to have invented the Balboa Bar, a chocolate-dipped ice cream bar rolled in sweet or salty toppings. No doubt, you’ll need to try them all to form your own opinion.

Newport Beach OC_Hero_HuntingtonCouple_Mansfield_1280x642_sized
Scott Mansfield

Discover Orange County

Newport Beach vca_maps_orangecounty
65
October
Average (°F)
Sept - Nov
89°
High
42°
Low
Dec - Feb
60°
High
37°
Low
Mar - May
80°
High
41°
Low
June - Aug
96°
High
52°
Low

Whether it’s manicured beach towns or celebrated theme parks, all framed by oceanfront towns and luxury yachts, “The OC” stands out as one of the state’s most iconic destinations. The always-amazing Disneyland Resort, roughly a 1-hour drive south of L.A. and 2 hours north of San Diego, continues to be one of the best-loved theme parks in the world, while Knott’s Berry Farms and other OC attractions amp up the fun meter.

“Surfing is like golf. . . it keeps knocking you down. But when you stay with it and catch that wave. . . magic.” — actor Dennis Quaid

Shop at spectacular South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, or get the surfer look in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, USA. 

Newport Beach VCW_D_Disneyland_Hero_Disneyland_4_08_DL_09847_1280x642
Courtesy of Disneyland Resort

Spotlight: Disneyland Resort

Newport Beach vca_maps_orangecounty
Just saying the name sets a child’s face glowing

The undisputed granddaddy of theme parks has been leading the way since 1955, inviting visitors to spend the day in the ultimate land of make-...

Newport Beach VC_IrvineSpectrumCenter_Stock_Irvine-Spectrum-Center-at-Dusk-CMF-8483_1280x640
OC Stock Photos 2016

Irvine Spectrum Center

With a Ferris wheel and Spanish ambience, this shopping center expands the definition of “mall”

Southern California is known for its sunny, open-air shopping centers, but this outdoor mall in the heart of Orange County ups the ante with...

Newport Beach VC_California101_OrangeCounty_Stock_RF_EHT85D_1280x640
Jon Bilous/Alamy

Orange County’s Best Beaches

Visit these four idyllic, sun-drenched stretches of sand in Southern California

With 42 miles of sandy coastline and a string of small, eclectic beach towns, Orange County delivers the quintessential Southern California...

Newport Beach VC_GreatWolfLodge_Supplied_LodgeFlowrider_1280x640
The Howlin’ Tornado water slide at Great Wolf Lodge near Anaheim is as tall as a six-story building.
Newport Beach VC_GreatWolfLodge_Supplied_FamilyFun_1280x640
Courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

The hotel-meets-water-park chain brings its all-weather family fun to Orange County

At first glance, a completely indoor water-park hotel might seem unnecessary in sunny Orange County. Fans of the Great Wolf Lodge brand, however,...

Newport Beach FF_VCW_D_OC_T10_BalboaBeach_Mansfield
Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776, was the first winery in California.
Newport Beach 1_SpotlightAnaheim_Opener_gty_RF_139695934_1280x640_downsized_0
Carsten Erler/Getty Images

Spotlight: Anaheim

Newport Beach vca_maps_orangecounty
Amazing attractions, shopping and dining in the one-of-a-kind Orange County town

With its laid-back vibe and unbeatable attractions, this vibrant city on the northwest side of Orange County has become a popular destination for...

Newport Beach ML_NewportBeach_Stock_RF_156321114_1280x640
David Marano/Getty Images

Newport Beach’s Surf Scene

Check out an epic bodysurfing mecca along the O.C. coast

Back in 1971, a Sports Illustrated article about bodysurfing not only anointed Southern California “the cradle of the sport,” but...

Santa Ana
Liz Boyd/Alamy

Santa Ana

Orange County’s largest city boasts a walkable downtown with an emerging arts and culinary scene

Not showy or sassy like some of Orange County’s more touristy towns, Santa...

Newport Beach VC_DanaPoint_Stock_RF_184148413_1280x640
Behind The Lens/Getty Images

Dana Point

Begin your Highway One odyssey in this scenic town with views over the ocean bluffs

The southern origin of California’s Highway One offers some gorgeous drama, like beach town...

Newport Beach VCW_D_OC_T4_Shopping_Manley1280x642
Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

O.C. Shopping

Discover boutique brands and bargains

Shopping in The O.C. is almost as legendary as surfing. Start at expansive South Coast Plaza, California’s largest luxury shopping complex, with...

The magic of Disneyland, walking through the tunnel underneath the train station to Main Street, it just transports you to other places and other times.
John Lasseter
Newport Beach VCW_D_OC_T2-Knotts Berry Farm_CTTC10031816272986_0
Knott's Berry Farm

Buena Park Playtime

Find family fun at Camp Snoopy plus pirates, Pig Pen, and more

Just northwest of Disneyland Park in Anaheim, the town of Buena Park offers more places to play. Knott’s Berry Farm features Camp Snoopy with kids...

Newport Beach VC_Questionnaire_BrianHuskey_Supplied1_1280x640
Courtesy of Brian Huskey

The California Questionnaire: Brian Huskey

The Top Chef alum loves riding his bike to work, taking road trips, and vacationing at Lake Tahoe

Brian Huskey first came to national attention in 2013 when he competed on season 11 of Bravo TV’s Top Chef, set in New Orleans. The...

Orange County is the cultural center of the surf world and Huntington Beach is like the heartbeat.
Corky Carroll (Orange County surf legend)
SPECIAL FEATURE
Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

Newport Beach Shopping_SpecialFeature_preview_686x885_0
Newport Beach VC_Questionnaire_GregLong_Mason-Mashon-Photo_California-Day-Dream-LR-338_1280x640
CLIF Bar/Mason Mashon

The California Questionnaire: Greg Long

Although he’s traveled the globe in search of big waves, this professional surfer will always call California home

California native Greg Long has carved out a name in the world of competitive big wave surfing by conquering the most challenging waves on the...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Unleash the kid within at California’s ultimate playgrounds

From Disneyland classics to beachfront carousels, the Golden State’s best-in-class theme parks deliver something for everyone. Take a tram ride to tour movie back lots at Universal Studios...

Newport Beach AmazingThemeParks_preview_868x686
Lucas Himovitz
Newport Beach CTTC_Pelican_Golf3-047_sized_0

Golf in Orange County

Tee up at top courses, with some ocean views

With ideal Southern California weather and some of the country’s most celebrated courses, Orange County justly earns the nickname “California Golf...

Newport Beach RitzCarltonLagunaNiguel_1280x642
Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

Orange County's Luxury Resorts

Live like a star at posh getaways

The good life might have been invented in “The O.C.”—especially when it comes to resort destinations. With spas, elegant dining, posh lodgings,...

July/August

With a nickname like “Surf City, U.S.A.,” Huntington Beach is the obvious place for this 9-day, sun-and-wave extravaganza, the world’s largest surf event. Top pros including Kelly Slater and Rob...

Newport Beach VansUSOpenSurfing_preview_686x885
William Fovall/Flickr
Newport Beach vca_maps_orangecounty
SPECIAL FEATURE
Get into the coastal vibe

Maybe it’s the sun-streaked hair, the frequent smiles, the eyes always gazing west, looking to the horizon to see when the next set might roll in. It’s the unmistakable look and vibe of a...

Newport Beach VCW_TI_8_hero_Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.35.53 AM
Newport Beach VCW_TI_6_Hero_CC_BigSur_coast_TS_1280x648

Trip 5-7 days 10 stops

Highway One Classic

Take the trip that captures the heart and soul of the Golden State
Newport Beach SanDiego_Skyline_JohnBahu_1280x642

Start in one of California’s sunniest destinations, not just in terms of the weather, but also in attitude. In the heart of the city, shop in Horton Plaza, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park. See the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Next, explore one of the city’s diverse neighborhoods,...

Newport Beach SF_Harbor_Myles_1280x642

Finish your trip in one of the world’s great cities. For a novel way to visit “the City by the Bay” park your car and explore by foot, bike, and unique public transportation. Pedal bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, then explore the lush Presidio, a former military base that’s now a...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Discover the awesome sports scene in the Golden State

With nearly twice as many professional teams as any other state, California is big league all the way. But the state’s sports scene goes far beyond football and baseball, with a diverse line-up of...

Newport Beach PebbleBeachProAm_ChristinaLauren_preview_686x885
Christina Lauren/Flickr
Newport Beach VCW_D_OC_T7_IMG_5467_1280x642
Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Crystal Cove State Park

Stroll a perfect beach with an intriguing past

In 1912, an early Laguna Beach artist described finding a rugged coastline “with cove after cove and headland after headland, golden cliffs and...

SPECIAL FEATURE
From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

Newport Beach McWayFalls_JPB_SP_preview_686x885
Amy Meredith/Flickr
SPECIAL FEATURE
Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

Newport Beach VCW_SI_VIP_T1_MichaelSaechang_preview_686x885
Michael Saechang/Flickr
Newport Beach FunFact_Great Park Balloon above the Palm Court Arts Complex_sized
Every year, the Orange County Great Park Balloon dons a smiling jack-o-lantern mask, marking the unofficial start of fall in Orange County.
Newport Beach VCW_TI_8_hero_Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.35.53 AM_v3
Myles McGuinness

Trip 4-5 days 10 stops

Pacific Coast Highway - South

Beach Towns, Iconic Theme Parks
Newport Beach VCW_D_SantaBarbara_Hero_CC_SBarbaraPier_KG_1280x642

Start your coastal cruise in this elegant city hugging the coastal mountains, where classic Spanish architecture gives the region a sun-washed European look straight out of the Riviera. The Santa Barbara, nicknamed “the American Riviera,” may have a burnished antique look of much of the...

Newport Beach BalboaPark_night_1280x642

End your trip with at this sunny, waterfront city. Downtown, shop at Horton Plaza, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park. See the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Next, explore one of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, Little Italy, North Park, South Park, East Village—pedestrian-friendly...

Newport Beach VCW_D_T9_Great Park Balloon above the Palm Court Arts Complex_sized
Courtesy of Orange County Great Park

Orange County Great Park

Explore an impressive urban park

Turning former military land into a roughly 1,300-acre/526-hectare green space, this Irvine park is as ambitious as it is...