Luxury Resort and Travel Guide

Newport Beach: Your Ultimate Guide to Orange County’s Harbor Town

You’re probably familiar with Newport Beach, the upscale Orange County town packed with yachts and Balboa Bars. Whether you’ve visited before or just caught glimpses of the sunny destination on shows like The OC and The Real Housewives of Orange County, there’s more to see and do than you might remember. For starters, the beach city just welcomed Lido House, a brand new boutique hotel and the first to open in Newport in many years. Our recent visit to the beach town proved it’s definitely worth another visit, even if it’s your tenth time back.

newport beach

WHERE TO STAY

Somewhere in between Cape Cod and Southern California, you’d find Lido House, a new boutique hotel which opened March 2018. Located on the historic site of Newport’s former City Hall, the hotel embraces its marina location with a nautically themed design. Decked out in a laidback SoCal style with East Coast flair, Lido House is also home to five custom-designed three-story cottages. Like something out of an HGTV dream, the residential-style three-story cottages keep the Cape Cod theme and are perfect for families or larger groups looking to stay together. All five unique cottages—named after the islands of Newport and each designed by different locally based firms—have rooftop decks, fireplaces, fully equipped kitchens and drool-worthy decor. The hotel also encourages a “get up and go” style. Room service is conveniently packaged in to-go bags so you can eat while you explore. Order the delish blueberry muffin before stopping for a latte at Crew Coffee + Cremiere, the hotel’s boutique coffee and ice cream shop.

Tip: Lido House is home to Newport’s only rooftop bar, Topside. With a stylish setting, Champagne pairings and killer views, this hot spot is where to be seen when the sun goes down.

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Lido House

And because a great hotel is nothing without a great location, Lido House is conveniently located next to one of the city’s top shopping destinations, Lido Marina Village. Pop across the street to find shops like Planet Blue, Elyse Walker, Sugar Paper, Serena & Lily and more. The outdoor marina-front center has lights strung from up above, a bold black and white palette and nautical-inspired quotes painted on otherwise blank walls.

For a more vintage way to stay, try your luck at booking one of the 24 Crystal Cove Cottages from the 1930s and ‘40s. These restored cottages located in the Crystal Cove State Park’s Historic District are notoriously hard to get your hands on but well worth it if you do. Not to mention they’re a lot more affordable than you think!

Tip: For a step back in Hollywood time, book the cottage that appeared in the 1988 movie Beaches, starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.

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Topside

WHERE TO WINE & DINE

Whether staying at Lido House or not, a visit to its signature restaurant is a must. Appropriately named Mayor’s Table, the design pays homage to its City Hall history. Wingback chairs, nailhead bar stools and studious decor lend to its classically vintage vibe. The seafood-forward restaurant has a raw bar, chef’s table and open kitchen, but you’d be wrong to not order the Crispy California Avocado. The breaded, fried slices are served with a chili mayo and popcorn puffs and will have you repeating “but it’s a healthy fat” over and over.

Like its shopping choices, Lido Marina Village is home to top-tier spots to wine and dine. For a local spot with an evolving seasonal menu, kick back for cocktails and savory eats at charming Lido Bottle Works. For a great view to watch boats come and go, visit Zinqué, a casual lunch spot with a killer burrata and prosciutto appetizer, or neighboring Nobu, the upscale sushi outlet.

Tip: Hang out for a little while at Lido Marina Village and you just might catch sight of a Real Housewive as it’s a favored hang out spot of the show’s stars.

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Lido Bottle Works

Away from the water, Fig & Olive, located at Fashion Island, has an interior as mouthwatering as its menu. The Mediterranean-French outlet bases its cooking on incorporating the best olive oils (no heavy cream here) into each flavor-packed dish. If you want to die and go straight to heaven, order the truffle risotto with scallops after devouring their signature crostinis. And do it all on the covered patio with a central fireplace, towering olive trees and the oh-so-perfect California weather.

For a more casual, beachfront way to dine, head to The Beachcomber for hearty breakfast favorites like coconut-macadamia pancakes and crab-cake benedicts. The hidden gem, which can’t be seen from the road, sits on the sandy shore next to the Crystal Cove Cottages. A must order? The generously portioned fluffy beignets. There’s a reason they’re the first thing on the menu.

WHAT TO DO

Home to 10 neighborhoods, Newport Beach has plenty to see and thankfully you can check out most of it while sitting down. Hop on a Duffy Boat to take you around the harbor to check out the yachts and waterfront mansions. Or jump on a Pedego Bike for an easy, breezy way to cruise the streets. Venture out on your own or enjoy a guided tour to take you from Corona Del Mar to Balboa Island and everywhere in between. Ride through the city’s neighborhoods while checking out popular lookout points along the way. 

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Balboa Village Fun Zone

A trip on the ferry will take you across the water to Balboa Island, home to the Fun Zone, a retro carnival-like boardwalk. Make a much-needed pit stop for the famous Balboa Bar, a big hunk of vanilla ice cream on a stick, dipped in chocolate and rolled in your pick of sweet and salty toppings like peanut butter, sprinkles, nuts and more.

Tip: The Fun Zone’s ferris wheel not only serves as an iconic feature of Balboa Island, it was also the setting for Childish Gambino’s entire music video for “3005” and Ryan and Marissa’s first liplock on The OC.

For the ultimate way to unwind, head to Boost Spa at Lido House, where you’ll be greeted with a bubbly glass of pre-treatment Champagne. For an amazing Gumby-like stretch and deep massage, ask for Ashley.

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Balboa Peninsula

For more, visit: visitnewportbeach.com

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