While we love to travel, there's nothing quite like our own backyard in sunny SoCal. Most weekends, you can find us exploring our local beach towns - and Newport Beach is a definite favorite. With picturesque shorelines, amazing restaurants, and (*swoon*) unparalleled shopping, Newport has to be seen to be believed. Keep reading to see our must-dos while in this gorg seaside community!
With two locations on opposite ends of town, you simply have to visit Bear Flag. We recommend grabbing a container of poke and a bag of Have-A Chips and heading down to the beach - perfect day, check! Or get fancy and order a taco plate (and be sure to get extra tommy sauce...just trust us).
A Newport staple, you can't go wrong with Gulfstream. It's got a great ambiance and even better appetizers. Try the enormous shrimp cocktails or biscuits by the fire pit on the patio. And don't forget to order dessert - their lemon meringue pie is well worth the sugar rush!
Ho Sum Bistro
For casual Asian fusion, Ho Sum Bistro is the way to go. The Combo Salad is crazy-addicting, and the Kung Pao Chicken has just the right amount of kick to it. Vegetarians and meat lovers alike can find something they'll love here.
Topside Roof Deck at Lido House
Topside is the new cool spot in town, and we understand why. Located on the roof of the new Lido House Hotel, the views can't be beat! It's a little on the pricier side, but it's perfect when you and your girls want to treat yourself to some sunset cocktails.
If you want to go out out, Stag Bar is a good bet. It gets pretty crowded on the weekends, but that's part of the appeal, right? There are pool tables and a pretty decent food menu if you're so inclined, and the location is ideal if you're bar-hopping the night away with friends.
Farmhouse at Roger's Gardens
Farmhouse is one of the more unique places you can eat and drink in Newport. Located within upscale nursery Roger's Gardens, this all-outdoor restaurant is surrounded by lush greenery. The menu rotates with what's in season so everything is fresh and locally sourced. Pro tip: see if you can score a table in the historic gazebo - it used to be housed at Disneyland when the park first opened.
Though we don't recommend swimming here, you should definitely pay a visit to the Wedge. Located at the end of Balboa Peninsula, the waves at this beach get huge when there's a big swell. It's always fun to sit on the sand and watch the experienced surfers and bodysurfers take on the up to 20-foot waves.
Crystal Cove State Beach
You'll need to pay to get into this state beach, but we think it's well worth it. You can hike throughout the trails, or head down to the beach and enjoy the tide pools, pristine sand, and crystal clear water. If you want to make a weekend out of it, the historic beach cottages are available for rent. Or, if you're just there 'til sundown, grab a bite to eat at the Beachcomber and rent a fire pit - they'll bring it out, set it up for you, and even put it away!
Pirate Coast Paddle Company
If you're looking for a fun way to get active in the water, look into paddleboarding! Once you get the hang of it, you'll be hooked. Pirate Coast Paddle Company is a great place to rent paddleboards and explore the Back Bay. They're accommodating for both beginners and experts, and for $20/hour it won't break the bank. And if you fall in, no worries - you'll just go for a nice refreshing dip!
This upscale outdoor shopping mall is an Orange County icon - they have every type of store under the sun, all situated within perfectly manicured grounds. Grab a coffee and a sweet treat at Le Pain Quotidien and get in a day of some serious retail therapy. And if you're around during the holidays, their Tree Lighting Ceremony is not to be missed!
Lido Marina Village
This Instagram-friendly shopping district has a view and selection that can't be beat. It's filled with unique luxury boutiques and specialty restaurants, and all of it is situated next to the boats of the Marina. For a special night out, hit up the famous Nobu for the best sushi you've ever had. For a more casual brunch or date night, check out European-chic Zinque.
No visit to Newport is complete without a trip to Balboa Island. Bring the littles and romp around the famous Fun Zone, or rent a duffy boat for a few hours on the water. You have to stop by Dad's Banana Stand - get a chocolate covered frozen banana or the local fave, a hippo cookie. We promise it's worth the calories!
Those are just a few of our must-dos while in Newport. If you're a SoCal local, head over for a fun Saturday afternoon. And if you live out of state, be sure to cross this cute beach town off your travel bucket list.
See you on the beach!