Days of Summer

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Explore 25 fun things to do in Newport Beach this season.

By Newport Beach Magazine Staff

While summertime is the hottest time to take a vacation, we’re lucky enough here in Southern California to “staycay” in our own backyard. Whether you seek an adventurous day of sun, sand and surf, or a relaxing one just soaking up some of the local culture, we serve up 25 things to do this season.

Photo Credit www.thatgirlproductions.com_final

1. Ride the paved bike paths that run from the Newport Beach Pier to the Balboa Pier and beyond. It’s the perfect place to bike or roller skate while taking in the view, breathing in salty ocean air and people-watch. Don’t have the ride you’re looking for? Stop by one of Newport’s bike and skate rental shops to check out your wheels of choice.

2. Participate in Crystal Cove’s grunion run this August, including taking part in citizen science studies to investigate the health of the grunion—all during a beautiful night on the picturesque beaches of this state park. (

3. Take part in a classic Newport tradition and enjoy top speeds of up to 5 mph aboard the historic Balboa Island Ferry, which has offered visitors and locals alike a direct route to charming Balboa Island since 1919. The Balboa Island Ferry holds only three cars and a few dozen pedestrians for a quick, three-minute trip from Balboa Island to the peninsula, but it’s a scenic jaunt not to be missed. (

4. Visit Orange County Museum of Art’s “California-Pacific Triennial” exhibition open through Nov. 17. Learn about California’s connections to the countries throughout the Pacific Rim through various artists and media. (

5. Head to the harbor. In inland cities, people may sip coffee and people-watch, but when we have waters as calm as a cafe in our backyard, we kayak and house-watch. Beautiful million-dollar homes line the harbor, and you’re bound to glimpse winged and finned neighbors.

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6. Explore the Back Bay, where 900 acres of estuary, marsh and coastal sage scrub habitat abound. Walk or bike the 10.5-mile Back Bay pedestrian loop for a serene outdoor experience. For a more educational tour, visit the Back Bay Science Center and the Muth Interpretive Center and learn about the preservation efforts in this diverse ecosystem. From kayaking to stand-up paddling to horseback riding, discover Newport’s natural beauty. (

7. Take Fido with you. The new dog park at the Civic Center complex is now open 7 a.m. to dusk (except Wednesdays) and provides a place for dogs to play off leash ( If the two of you prefer a walk on the beach, leashed dogs are allowed on the beaches before 10 a.m. and after 4:30 p.m. Dogs are also allowed on Back Bay Trails, on paved Crystal Cove State Park trails and on a variety of restaurant patios around town—meaning the staycation isn’t just for you!

8. Support Newport’s local fishermen and bear witness as they haul, fillet and select fish and the freshest seafood for eager customers at one of Newport’s two specialty fish markets—Pearson’s Port and Dory Fleet Fish Market. For the early birds, the Dory Fleet (—a staple of the city since 1891—comes in at 7 a.m. and provides quite an entertaining spectacle as they unload their most recent catches.

FT7A11099. Shop till you drop. Newport and Costa Mesa are home to world-class shopping, with visitors from all over the world coming to South Coast Plaza for its West Coast exclusive stores and to Fashion Island for its outdoor beauty. Or, visit some of the many singular boutiques and shops located in neighborhoods from Crystal Cove to Balboa.

10. Hang 10 like one of the pros. Whether you are a visitor who just couldn’t fit a board in your suitcase or a local who has yet to give surfing or stand-up paddleboarding a try, Newport Beach is home to a variety of rental shops where you can find surf and SUP boards. Many shops also offer individual and group lessons with a knowledgeable, certified professional if you need a little help getting started.

Female Massage-1

11. Treat yourself to a spa day. No vacation or staycation is complete without some pampering. Newport is home to more than two-dozen spas, from four- and five-star resorts, where your appointment comes with use of the facilities for the day, to small day spas just around the corner.

Duffy & Sailboats_Photo Credit David Serino

12. Hop aboard a rented Duffy boat and cruise your way through the harbor until you reach one of the several restaurants—Duke’s Place, Bluewater Grill, Harborside Restaurant, The Cannery, Woody’s Wharf, First Cabin and The Dock—that offer guests a “dock and dine” experience.

13. Go to The Wedge at the very tip of Balboa Peninsula and watch as surfers and bodyboarders tackle the south swells. The best time to show up is in the morning or late afternoon, at the turn of the ideal tide.

14. Giddy up! Newport Beach is home to a number of nearly hidden horse properties. Several offer lessons, camps and even trail rides along the Back Bay, where you’ll feel the cool breeze under the hot sun—and spot the local wildlife.

15. Visit the sacred birthplace of the frozen banana. TV series “Arrested Development” showcased this Balboa Island tradition, and you can see (and taste) for yourself why people flock to Dad’s, allegedly the first place to freeze the initially healthy fruit, dip it in chocolate and cover it in nuts, sprinkles, Oreo bits or better yet—all of the above.

16. Dive into ExplorOcean. Bring the whole family to discover what lies off the coast, with interactive exhibits such as the Touch Tank, where you can observe, touch and feed animals found in local tidepools. Learn about nautical history and expedition at the Exploration in the Past Gallery, or take advantage of Science Saturdays, a free, hands-on, educational experience. (

17. Go fish. For a century, anglers have toted fishing poles to Newport Beach with the hopes of hooking a fish dinner. (

18. Stay and play at the Balboa Arcade. Step back in time with a classic game of skee ball, ride the merry-go-round and take a spin on the Ferris Wheel while also taking in some great views. (

19. From an upper deck perch, admire the harbor homes of the rich and famous on the narrated Newport Harbor boat cruise. It’s the local version of Los Angeles’ a star maps tour. (

20. June through October, enjoy a variety of jazz and pop concerts from the likes of Chris Isaak, Boney James, David Benoit and more, all performing in an intimate amphitheater setting during the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Summer Concert Series. (

21. Live music abounds in Newport this summer. Thursday evenings through Aug. 15, enjoy Crystal Cove’s new Summer Music Series featuring everything from classic rock to Caribbean fusion. Through Sept. 18, you can also hear jazz Wednesday nights at the Marriot’s Rose Garden during Sunset Jazz. (

Exterior view of OCPAC

22. Take in a live performance in nearby Costa Mesa with Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory, Pacific Symphony, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County or the Pacific Chorale. Or, attend a theater production in Newport Beach with Newport Theatre Arts Center or Balboa Performing Arts Theater Foundation. (, and

23. Stow away the textbooks! Instead, learn about the local marine life firsthand. Explore pristine tidepools at Little Corona del Mar.

Golf Ocean North 17th Hole-300

24. Golf in luxury: Newport Beach offers several spectacular courses, including Big Canyon Country Club, Newport Beach Country Club and two ocean courses at The Resort at Pelican Hill. Each with its own set of special characteristics—to enjoy the leisurely sport. Whether you seek sweeping ocean view or a higher challenge, it’s all right here.

25. Give your taste buds something new to try. Newport Beach is home to more than 300 restaurants, offering dishes from around the world as well as spectacular California cuisine, local produce and fresh-caught seafood. Visit our dine listings on page 108 to start your culinary journey. NBM

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