As the weather heats up, take your romance outdoors this season with these Newport Beach date ideas.
By Ashley Ryan
Dive deep into romance this summer: When it comes to special nights spent outdoors, Newport Beach is essentially one massive playground.
Although the COVID-19 vaccine took us outdoors for so much of last year, the blue skies, sunshine and beautiful vistas in Newport can’t be beat. There is truly something for everyone. Spend time watching the sunset, dining in the open air, skimming over the water or trying your hand at an electrifying sport; there are endless places to connect and celebrate your love without ever leaving town.
No matter how you choose to unwind and explore, enjoy your time together this summer, whether you’re falling in love or remember why you did in the first place.
Picnic in the Park
One of the most classic outdoor date ideas is a picnic in the park, where lovers can dine, sip, lounge and chat. “A park picnic is wonderful for a romantic date, because it is much more private than the beach and also provides a more cozy picnic nostalgic feel,” says Liz Carlson of Newport Beach-based L&M Picnics. Enlist the company’s help to set up a personalized picnic for your significant other, with two-hour packages including decor, blankets and pillows, a Bluetooth speaker, sparkling water, a charcuterie board and more; opt to spring for one of L&M’s add-ons, such as balloons, cupcakes, flowers, games or additional time. Carlson recommends visiting either Cliff Drive Park or Galaxy View Park, both of which have stellar views that will make for a heavenly experience no matter what time of day you choose to visit.
Out on the Water
Exploring Newport’s waves is a great way to connect with a loved one, and there are so many ways to do so. Duffy boats remain a popular date idea, while more adventurous lovers can opt for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding or even surfing. But to truly maximize the romance, consider an evening on the water with Gondola Adventures. From the Amore Cruise to dinner or dessert options, there is plenty to experience aboard one of the company’s authentic Venice-built boats. “It’s really not about sightseeing; it’s about spending time and directing your focus to the person next to you,” says co-owner Greg Mohr, also known as “Gondola Greg.” Choose the cruise that best suits your needs, as the experience varies, and don’t forget to upgrade to get things like rose petals, gourmet chocolates, Champagne, dessert or even a floating message in a bottle. As for why a gondola ride makes for a great date, Mohr says, “It’s tradition on a gondola to kiss under every bridge and, of course, our gondoliers encourage our passengers to do [just] that—you have to kiss under every bridge.”
Wheels of Fortune
Another way to enjoy the wealth of love that an outdoor date in Newport Beach has to offer is along the beachside bicycle path. The boardwalk is the perfect place to ride—with wind in your hair and salt in the air plus a perfect ocean view. Don’t have bikes of your own? No problem. Not far from the Newport Beach Pier, 20th Street Beach and Bikes provides a variety of rentals for visitors to take out. Specifically, the company’s tandem bikes are perfect for an afternoon date, as you can pedal together and work on your communication skills in the process. Of course, you can also opt for individual beach cruisers or kick it up a notch with two Pedego Electric Bikes. If you want to expand the experience into a double date with friends, grab a surrey in which to journey. No matter which option you choose, you’re in for a date of fun in the sun on the 3-mile trail that will take you to the end of Balboa Peninsula and back.
Wine & Dine
Waterfront dining is one of the most appealing things about Newport Beach. From the ocean to the harbor, there are a number of high-end eateries that offer incredible experiences and views of the lights on the water. One spot that is especially charming is The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, located along Mariner’s Mile. “The Winery offers the perfect backdrop to make any evening special,” says JC Clow, co-owner of the eatery. “With stunning views of the Newport marina, dinner becomes a mini vacation, complete with the best food and wine.” Add some candlelight and you have the perfect recipe for an intimate dinner. Select some of the finest menu items, from the seafood tower or the fresh seasonal oysters to the rack of lamb or rib-eye steak. And don’t forget to check out the restaurant’s extensive wine offerings; given that its name stems from this lengthy menu, you’re sure to find something to catch your eye and enhance your visit.
Another classic date night idea is going to the movies, but what better way to watch a movie than on the beach under the stars? At Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina, the movies tend to be family friendly, but that just means fun for all ages. Throughout the summer, guests will view films like the new Disney film “Soul” (June 18), “The Sandlot” (July 3), “The Greatest Showman” (July 30), “Moana” (Aug. 20) and many more. “When it comes to date nights, what’s better than watching a beautiful sunset on the bay and then cozying up under the stars with a great movie?” ponders Jan Yerzik, the resort’s director of marketing. “We recommend arriving early and grabbing a bite and drink from our beachfront bar and grill, Moe B’s Munchies, before the show.”
Gliding in the Garden
Meandering outside in the summer is romantic in and of itself, but doing so at Sherman Library & Gardens has so much more to offer than a casual stroll through the neighborhood. This botanical oasis, located right along East Coast Highway in Corona del Mar, is perfect no matter the time of day—especially during the warmer months. “Pack a picnic, bring a blanket and enjoy the gardens during special summer nights with extended hours,” says Scott LaFleur, executive director of Sherman Library & Gardens. “Evenings in the garden are my favorite. As the cool breeze kicks up and the angle of the sun changes the light in the garden, night blooming flowers start to open.” Of course, a trip during the day is equally as captivating and, with the new Cultivar restaurant opening this summer, there will be plenty to experience. Visit the center’s website to see a list of plants that are currently flowering, including Peruvian lilies, dahlias, bleeding heart fuchsias and more.
A Whale of a Tale
Whale watching is quintessential to life in Newport Beach, as the waters along our coastline are hotbeds for both local and migrating cetaceans. It also doubles as the perfect date activity for those that love wildlife. Grab some cocktails and cozy up together on the boat as you head out to sea, then feel the thrill of spotting these amazing creatures up close for an experience you won’t soon forget. “Every day is different, and we are so lucky to see whales year-round in Newport Beach,” says Jessica Roame, education programs manager at Newport Landing Whale Watching. “The summer is some of my favorite whale watching because we have beautiful weather and we typically see the titanic blue whale. They are the largest animals to have ever lived, and they usually cruise around Orange County from May through September each year feasting on tiny krill.” Choose to set out in the morning hours to spot the whales before it gets hot, or opt for one of the last trips of the day to try to catch the sunset on your way back.
Bliss on the Beach
And, of course, there’s nothing more romantic than a sunset walk on the beach. Luckily, Newport is home to plenty of scenic spots in which to view the sun going down, but perhaps the most spectacular is Corona del Mar State Beach. Whether you opt to stick your toes in the sand or meander above the cliffs at Lookout or Inspiration Point, the pink, purple and orange hues of a summer sunset are most beautiful in Southern California. While you may decide to head out to a romantic dinner, you can also snag a fire pit for a summer bonfire. Cuddle up under a blanket and enjoy the sound of the waves crashing in the distance—plus it’s a great opportunity to craft some melty chocolate s’mores as a nighttime treat.