- Learn to say 'no' to the good so you can say 'yes' to the best. John C. Maxwell
Visit Newport Beach
I have to admit it — Newport Beach, California wasn’t on my radar before this week. Sure, we’ve all heard of Laguna and Malibu, other SoCal hotspots. But now that I’m here, I’m not sure how I missed it — after all, it was the setting for The OC, Beaches, and Gilligan’s Island; it’s home to Jay Leno and Kobe Bryant; and it’s a not-too-warm, not-too-chilly beachside family destination you’ll want to visit again and again.
What makes Newport Beach such a great spot for a beach trip?
White Sand and Warm Water
This whole stretch of Orange County, California, is known for its beach towns, but each one has a different personality. Newport Beach is all about kicking back, enjoying the pretty beaches, and swimming through the waves — sometimes with dolphins and even whales. My favorite sunning spots? Crystal Cove, where the beachside bar is the perfect place for an end-of-day beverage; or the quiet Corona del Mar State Beach next to the Tacklebox, a Top Chef contestant-owned eatery. To get the full effect, book a tour with Newport at Your Feet; Carolyn Clark has all the insider scoop on the area and will keep you laughing for hours.
You don’t have to fly into LAX or deal with Los Angeles freeway traffic to get to Newport Beach; the local Orange County airport, John Wayne, offers direct flights from many major cities, cheap parking, and 15-minute access to the beach. Driving around, you’re unlikely to hit a single traffic jam, but do rent a car: the town’s spread out over several miles.
An Old-Timey Feel
Sure, there’s a lot of high-end development in Newport Beach — we are talking about oceanfront Southern California, after all. But the folks here value their history, too. Take Crystal Cove, a cottage community dating back to the 1920s. When developers wanted to build high-end hotels on the prime beach location, locals banded together and raised money to save the cute, vintage cottages here. Now you can reserve a stay in one, right on the beach, complete with kitchen and bath and old-fashioned kitsch, but beware — they tend to book up almost a year ahead of time. And remember the banana stand in Arrested Development? Yep, that’s here, too, on the main drag in the quaint Balboa Island neighborhood.
A Calm Harbor
Even though the Wedge, one of the nation’s go-to spots for body surfing, is right off the coast of Newport Beach, in most places the water is glassy calm. Take the kids for a ride on an electric Duffy boat (available for rent by the hour), or, for the more adventurous, try a new adventure sport. Jet Pack America offers a wild ride above the waves; the staff was super encouraging and supportive, even when I crashed into the water and blew some major bubbles.
Lodging for Any Lifestyle
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some comfy digs in Newport Beach — and you have a lot of options. There’s the Marriott, a well-priced option in the Fashion Island area. Or you can rent a one- or two-bedroom suite at the Newport Beach Hotel to get 10-step access to the beach. Want luxury? The Island Hotel is five-star heaven, with plush robes and linens but kid-friendly menus and an on-it concierge who will line up a babysitter in a pinch.