This stretch of coastline was dismissed as unusable until a railway was built in 1905 to bring beachgoers. Today it is one of the jewels of California’s Orange County.
Popular with water-sport enthusiasts, the waves here are packed with body boarders and surfers. The waves at the eastern end of Balboa Peninsula (dubbed “The Wedge”) are monstrous in summer—for calmer waters, head to Newport Harbour, which is popular with sailboats, paddleboards and kayaks. If you want to sit back and let someone else do the work, you can rent a gondola for a romantic, guided harbour cruise. Much more than just a dock, this is one of the largest recreational boat harbours on the US West Coast.
Newport Beach’s boardwalk is the centre of life here, and it comes alive with scores of skateboarders, rollerbladers and cyclists zooming along during the peak summer months—keep your wits about you if you are out for a leisurely stroll. Most of the tourist activity is around the waterfront—grab a bite here or pick up some souvenirs from the stalls along the shoreline.
If you want to get away from the beach, head inland to Fashion Island, where the glamorous locals come to shop. This outdoor shopping area, located in the central business district, has 200 shops including US department stores Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. The lavishly landscaped area includes an enormous koi pond, 40 restaurants and a cinema complex and is the perfect place for some retail therapy after all that time in the sun.
For an unusual view over Newport Beach, head out to the Balboa Peninsula and hop onto the old-fashioned Ferris wheel at Balboa Fun Zone. One of Southern California’s oldest coastal amusement parks, it offers traditional seaside entertainment like bumper cars and a carousel.
Newport Beach is located 16 kilometres south of downtown Santa Ana.