For some of us, knowledge of Newport Beach may not extend far beyond what we’ve seen on The O.C. However, it is truly a crying shame to limit your knowledge of this oceanside paradise to what Seth Cohen and Marissa Cooper have shown you. Though through the eyes of our favorite TV show of the 2000s we were provided some accurate insight into the famed Newport Beach, there is so much more to know — so much more depth, character (and less drama) that will surely bring this destination to the top of your travel list.
With a trip to Newport Beach, there is an endless sea of activities from which to choose. From shopping, to dining, to spa-ing, and everything in between, this oceanside town will leave you begging for more. And just a five and a half hour drive or a quick one hour flight from Phoenix, Newport Beach looks nicer and nicer with each degree our temperatures in the Valley rise.
Where to Stay
As one of the top resort towns in the United States, you can guess that the hotels and resorts in Newport Beach have mastered the art of providing guests with the perfect stay. Ranging from small hotels, to massive resorts, this coastal town has every style and preference covered.
Here are our two favorites:
If your trip to Newport Beach requires some work time, Island Hotel is the place to do it. An upgrade to gain entry into the hotel’s Island Club is well worth it. While the unlimited candy may be enough to get you in the door, the lounge will keep you there with its complimentary beer and wine, fast wi-fi, and work tables with views of the ocean. Not a bad office, huh?
While you may have business to attend to during your stay at Island Hotel, be sure to partake in some of the hotel’s other fabulous offerings, starting with the food at Oak Grill. The restaurant’s patio is the perfect place to watch the sunset over the ocean while sipping on some smooth wine and munching on incredibly fresh and delicious seafood. The live acoustic music is a great touch that adds the perfect ambiance to your dining experience.
And don’t forget to unwind at the Island Hotel Spa. With massage therapists that outshine the most luxurious resorts, as well as a facial that will leave you glowing from the inside out, and much more, the hotel’s small, yet stellar, spa is not to be missed.
The Resort at Pelican Hill
If you want to experience luxury at its finest, The Resort at Pelican Hill is your five-star answer. You may easily mistake this resort for a Tuscan villa with its scenery, landscape, and overall vibe, but you’re not in Italy — you’re at The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach’s hot spot.
With its doors opening just nine years ago, this resort has shot its way to the top quickly. As a celebrity go-to, The Resort at Pelican Hill’s bungalow and villa-style rooms allow for great privacy and luxurious accommodations. The resort’s two 18-hole golf courses that boast the most stunning views aren’t bad either.
Whether you’re looking to stay here, or come to experience the spa or a round of golf, The Resort at Pelican Hill is something you must see.
Where to Eat
In a town of just under 87,000, Newport Beach is home to over 400 restaurants. Obviously, food is a big deal here. And obviously, seafood is the primary choice. However, we also suggest exploring beyond the seafood because Newport Beach’s eateries have a great deal to offer.
These dining spots are our favorites:
A hip L.A. spot, Zinque has made its way onto the food scene in Newport Beach and it is thriving. Known for its dish Le Bowl, filled with brown or cauliflower rice, arugula, sriracha, and avocado (of course — we’re in California!), this bowl will satiate your body and mind. Zinque’s menu is filled with other fabulous options, and we suggest a glass of the Chateau Minuty rose to go along with almost anything.
As mentioned above, Island Hotel’s Oak Grill is the perfect place to relax in the warmth of a fire and a gorgeous sunset while sipping on some local beer and grazing your way through some delectable appetizers.
If you find yourself lured into Cucina Enoteca by its super cute decor, you will certainly be tempted to hang around and try out the menu filled with California-inspired Italian food — a unique concept that is incredibly well executed. With great cocktails and squash blossoms to die for, Cucina Enoteca is perfect for a casual dinner with friends or family.
The Ritz Prime Seafood
When in a beach town, you may find it difficult to order anything but seafood. And while you will definitely not be disappointed by this restaurant’s seafood, The Ritz Prime Seafood’s steak is number one in our hearts. However, there are far too many things worth eating at this restaurant to come here just once. From the appetizers to the entrees, and of course dessert, The Ritz Prime Seafood’s stunning displays of its food prepare you for the experience you’re about to give your taste buds. Executive Chef George Neyra’s passion and knowledge about food is unparalleled, as evidenced by the robust flavors and photo-worthy plates. Did we mention the views? If you’re able to look up from your delicious food, you will love the sunset views of this restaurant — right on the water with yachts parked out front. Perfectly Newport Beach.
Where to Shop
What’s a trip to California without a little shopping? Whether you’re into mega malls or local shops, Newport Beach has created a great variety of shopping experiences in its little town.
These are our fave shopping spots:
Lido Marina Village
Parked right up against the water, Lido Marina Village is a truly beautiful place to shop. Opened in 2016, the renovations done to the old structures at this location have transformed the waterfront into a sophisticated, yet California-cool shopping experience. Lido Marina Village is home to cult classics such as Aesop, Sweaty Betty, Planet Blue, and world-famous Japanese restaurant Nobu, among many other carefully curated shops that cater perfectly to those in search of an Orange County shopping trip.
At the heart of Newport Beach lies the epicenter of shopping: Fashion Island. With more than 100 of the most popular stores, Fashion Island is home to everything you could ever need. Its anchor stores that include Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Macy’s mark the outside corners of this massive and beautiful outdoor mall. With gorgeously manicured gardens and views of the ocean, Fashion Island provides the perfect setting for a full day of shopping. Fashion Island also offers a complimentary personal shopper that will spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an entire day finding you the perfect items, completely obligation free — a great service for when you don’t have the time to scour every nook and cranny of this massive shopping center.
Where to Play
There are few places in the world that have mastered life on the beach quite like Newport Beach. From yachting, to stand-up paddle boarding, to dining, shopping, and a seemingly infinite number of things in between, it is impossible to be bored here.
Though choosing just a couple highlights of this coastal town was no easy feat, here are two experiences we feel are definitely worth your time:
Bike Ride Along the Back Bay
Few things calm the mind more than a cruise through the wonderful Back Bay of Newport Beach on your bike. Just a short walk away, bikes are available for rent at Hyatt Regency Newport Beach. Boasting the title of one of the largest coastal wetlands in Southern California, the Back Bay is home to over 1,000 acres of protected land where birds and other area species are able to safely thrive. The best part? You can enjoy it too! With a great paved road that winds along the Back Bay, you will love riding, walking, or running through the area to take in all that nature has to offer. You will likely see stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers on your journey, as these calm waters provide the ideal place for them to recreate.
Blow Out at Lavender Salon
If you’re looking for a blow out done in style and luxury, Lavender Salon & Boutique is your place. Inspired by the beauty and style capital of the world, Paris, Lavender Salon has created a five-star salon experience right here in Newport Beach. The meticulously designed interior of this salon will make you feel as if you are in Paris, and the skilled stylists will have you feeling as if you’re being prepped for the Red Carpet. The products used and sold at Lavender are also definitely worth noting. Top beauty brands such as Kerastase, Oribe, R+Co, and Voluspa can be found here, along with other fabulous (and exclusive) names in beauty. With a full beverage bar including Parisian Rose Champagne, ceiling-mounted high-def TVs to enjoy during your shampoo, candy galore, and a processing room hooked up to Apple TV, you will find yourself wanting to stay here far past your appointment.
This peek into the world of Newport Beach is just the starting point of all the wonderful things this coastal dream has to offer. With just a few days in Newport Beach, you will feel as if you couldn’t possibly imagine life anywhere else.