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Things to do in Newport Beach

Itineraries for Your Trip to Newport Beach

Newport Beach locals share their perfect days.
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3 Days in Newport Beach for First Timers

Curated by Elisa Parhada Los Angeles-based travel writer always on the lookout for a great beach getaway.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2007, a close friend was based in Newport Beach. Every time I visited her, I questioned my choice to live inland. My friend has since moved on, but I still find any excuse I can to spend time in this chill and charming beach city.

Even though the beach looms large here, it isn't the only draw. The area hosts superb food options, some of which are charmingly found in strip malls. Fashion Island and South Coast Plaza malls offer high-class curated shopping experiences. And on Balboa Island, you can nosh on Balboa Bars and putter around in an electric Duffy boat. Here’s how to experience a little bit of everything in three days.

While most days are sunny and warm, be prepared for cool temperatures thanks to the city’s proximity to the ocean.

If you only have time for one thing, head to the beach!


Day 1

Unsurprisingly, Newport Beach's biggest draw is its beach of the same name, which claims some of the most beautiful coastal real estate in Orange County. Whether you lounge, play, or surf, spend some quality beach time soaking in the SoCal lifestyle.

The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) connects Newport Beach with the rest of Orange County’s vibrant beach cities. Spend the afternoon checking out the pier at Huntington Beach or—one of my favorite PCH stops—Crystal Cove State Park, a beach with a shoreside restaurant and renovated historic surf shacks from the 1930s.

Day 2

The waters off the coast of Orange County support a menagerie of marine animals, from dolphins and whales to seals and sea lions. The best way to observe these creatures is on a whale-watching cruise from Newport Beach.

Head south to San Juan Capistrano this afternoon to see the charming Mission San Juan Capistrano and surrounding Old Town area. Going back 250 years, this area boasts the oldest building in California and a swallow population that returns every spring.

Day 3

Much of the fun in Orange County takes place on boats, including elaborate parties, weekend jaunts to islands, a famous Christmas boat parade—and even brunch, which you can experience for yourself on a tour.

Balboa Island feels like a seaside attraction from a bygone era, surrounded by quaint multi-million dollar beach "cottages" and yachts. Spend the afternoon cruising the streets with a tasty Balboa bar, then take a tiny ferry to the Balboa Fun Zone across the bay or rent a Duffy boat to explore the bayside waters.

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