Newport Pier at SunsetNewport Beach is a bustling coastal town in Orange County, California – full of sandy beaches, piers, bike paths, malls, and restaurants.

The beaches in Newport are known for surfing, bodyboarding, bodysurfing, swimming, and fishing.

So if you are not at the beach engaging in those fun activities, what else can you do in Newport?

You can go walking on the beach, bike riding, visiting the shops and restaurants at the pier, spend time with the kids at the fun zone, or go on a Dolphin and Whale watching tour.

You can also rent boats or jet skis and ride leisurely in the bay or venture out to the ocean.

And if you love shopping, you can spend a great deal of money at the Fashion Island mall. Fashion Island also has two food courts and many high-end restaurants.

Balboa Peninsula

Newport Beach - Balboa - by D Ramey Logan - WikipediaBalboa is a long stretch of land that juts into the ocean and protects the harbor from the surf. It is mostly a quiet residential area with a few hotspots of activity.

The beaches on both sides are open to the public, but the trick is to find a parking spot and get to the beach.

The main attraction for beachgoers is at Newport Pier – where you can find some parking and lots of shops and restaurants. Here you can also find bike rentals and surf shops.

For a more subdued experience, head to the second pier -Balboa Pier – for more parking spaces and fewer crowds. Across the street from this large parking lot, you can have some fun with the family at the Fun Zone.

Fun Zone

Newport Beach - Fun Zone - Wikipedia - by D Ramey LoganIf you are looking for some fun activities in and out of the water, you can find it here. Kids of all ages can enjoy rides on the Ferris Wheel, play arcade games, Bungee jump, slide inside a giant transparent plastic sphere, or enjoy snacks at the food court.

The fun zone is also home to several casual dining restaurants with great views of the bay.

Newport Landing

This port serves as a gateway for water activities. You can go on a bay cruise, whale and dolphin watching, or board the Catalina Flyer to Catalina Island. You can also rent boats and jet skis here.

Dolphin and Whale watching

Whale and Dolphin Watching - Blue WhaleDavey's Locker runs several Whale and Dolphin watching tours. The boats will take you through the bay waterway and into the ocean.

The captain tries his best to find dolphins or whales, but if you happen to be on one of the rare trips with no sightings, they will give you a deeply discounted voucher for a return trip.

Read about my trip with Davey's Locker here.

Balboa Island and Ferry

The ferry takes pedestrians, bikes and cars from the peninsula to Balboa Island and back.

Balboa Peninsula Ferry Terminal - Wikipedia - by Asfandyar-2You can also get to the island through a bridge over the South Bay, but parking on the island is almost impossible. 

The island is a quiet neighborhood with multi-million houses. You can walk through many narrow alleys and discover some hidden gems - but the main walking path is a pedestrian-only boardwalk that surrounds the island. 

Most businesses and restaurants are located along Marine ave, but you can find a few right at the ferry terminal.   

If you are biking through Newport Beach, you can take your bike on the ferry but the main walking path around the island is closed to bikes. 


Newport Beach Bike rail - Flickr - By Ken undI love riding my bike through Newport Beach, especially along the Balboa Peninsula. My favorite route starts from the edge of Newport on Seashore dr. You can park along this street or inside the residential park and head into the peninsula.

The trail first continues on Seashore dr, but when you reach 36th street intersection, veer right into Ocean Front Way –a paved bike and pedestrian trail. This trail will take you into Newport Pier and the busy shopping and dining area.

After you cross this bustling area, you can continue biking on Ocean Front until you reach Balboa Pier. But just before the pier, ocean Front will turn into Newport Balboa Bike Trail.

Newport Beach Biking - Newport PierRight after Balboa Pier, you are at the thinnest part of the peninsula. You can cross Balboa Blvd to peek at the bayside of this peninsula. You will have to switch to Balboa Blvd anyway to continue your trek because the bike trail ends around E Street.

Your bike trip is not over yet. You can continue on Balboa blvd until you dead-end into West Jetty View Park and a popular beach with the locals.

This bike ride is about 5 miles, but it can be extended in several directions for a longer or a more challenging ride.     

You can start from Huntington Beach for a 10-mile ride or from Seal Beach for a 17-mile ride. Alternatively, you can reverse direction, start from West Jetty View Park, head to the Santa Ana River Trail for a much longer ride.


Yes, you can still hike in Newport Beach. A few pristine wilderness areas were preserved for nature lovers. Most notable are the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Buck Gulley.

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

Newport Beach - Upper Bay Trail - Flickr - By Ken LundNewport Bay extends inland to form the back bay and the upper bay - a 1000-acre area of bluffs and waterways.

The surrounding bluffs were set aside to preserve animal, bird, and plant species. Biking and hiking trails crisscross the preserve providing vantage points to admire nature and observer wildlife.

Close by, Newport Dunes resort provide a great place to camp and a launching pad for upper bay adventures.

Buck Gully

nullIf you feel like a nice easy hike close by, Buck Gully in Newport Beach is an excellent choice. Just a few steps away from the beach, and in the middle of million-dollar homes, you can find this hidden oasis of lush wilderness and running water. 

Read more about this hike here

Crystal Cove

Crystal Cove State Park TrailsThis State Park sits between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. The park has about 17 miles of trails to pick from – some with stunning ocean views. Read more here.


Newport Beach is a big city with a lot of dining options. Around Newport Pier, you can find several upscale restaurants like 21 Oceanfront, Rocken Baja Lobster, and Urban Corner - and plenty of Pizza, snacks, and dessert shops.

If you are at Balboa Pier or the Fun Zone, you can also find two restaurants with excellent views, Harborside and Newport Landing restaurants -  and lots of smaller food vendors.  

On the other side of the bay – close to Pacific Coast Highway – you will find high-end restaurants like Rusty Pelican or Billy's at the Beach. You can also grab a delicious meal at restaurants inside beach resorts like A&O Kitchen + Bar at Balboa Bay Resort.

After a refreshing hike at Buck Gulley, you can grab a meal at SideDoor.

21 Oceanfront

One of my favorite restaurants in Newport Beach, this place offers Prime Steak and Seafood Newport Pier - 21 Oceanfront - from restaurant websitewith an international flair.

The dining hall is grand with great views of the beach and strict attire requirements: Business Casual, No Beach Attire, No Baseball Caps, No Beanies. The outdoor patio seating is more relaxed.

During our last visit, we tried the Wedge Burger and the Prawn Linguini. Both were excellent with large portions. But before our main course, we enjoyed a Lobster Bisque and a Clam Chowder.  

To finish this delicious lunch, we shared a Banana Bread Pudding, with extra Vanilla Ice Cream, and a Blueberry Lemon Drop.

After our meal, we walked on the pier for a little exercise and to enjoy the views.

Newport Landing

Newport Beach - view from Newport Landing RestaurantNewport Landing is an upscale but casual restaurant next to the Fun Zone. Balcony seats are especially scenic with a panoramic view of Newport Harbor, Balboa Island, Newport Center, and Saddleback's distant peaks.

As you enjoy your meal, you can watch the ferry going back and forth and the many water fun activities.

The restaurant offers an eclectic menu of seafood and Italian dishes. Some of my favorites are the Half and Half – basically, fish and chips with coconut shrimp; Shrimp Linguini; or the catch of the day.

For dessert, you can't go wrong with the Mud Pie or the Crème Brulee.