Newport Travel Guide
We've been taking a summer trip to Newport Beach for 15 years now & in that time, we've learned more than a few things. Every year we rent the same house and its in the perfect location from the Newport Pier. If you've never been you ideally want to rent a place between about 40th St & 56th St -- this will put a good bike ride distance from the Newport Pier, off the board walk. You might be tempted to stay close to the pier, on the board walk & I'd highly advise against it. The pier is BUSY & while there is good beach parking, man those beaches are PACKED...which translates into a bit gross. On the boardwalk, is iffy, only because the boardwalk is always busy & the walk through the sand to the beach is a long one. If you go a bit further down, you can stay a block off the beach & still actually be closer to the water believe it or not.
You'll want to pack everything for a normal beach vacation, towels, sunscreen & shade, but don't forget these items too!
Bikes. You can definitely rent some once you get there, but every year, we've hauled ours out & I like not having to take the time to hit the rental spot -- it's equally annoying to drive there & then figure out how to transport 5 bikes back to the house. We have this bike rack, but are ready to upgrade to this one. If you're in the market, just start with the upgraded one. Our bikes are pretty dinged up from the transport they've taken over the last 10 years & the extra money you spend will save you hours of grief & headache from trying to finagle awkward beach cruisers onto that other rack.
Bike Locks. You'll want to ride them to Balboa & Huntinton Piers, lock them up & then explore on foot. You'll be really mad, if you forget bike locks & don't have a way home at the end of your excursion.
Fins. I know this probably sounds funny, but if you like to body surf or body board, you'll want to get some & learn how to use them. I only know this because I married a local and he when we were first married, I think he was hoping I'd become a local too, but in the very least, not look like a tourist. We all have high expectations when we first get married. :) But really, this past year, it was red flag conditions & to be in the water past your knees you needed to have 2 fins. I'll save the body boarding 'how to' for another post another day or another person all together, but the goal is to ride the face of the wave, not the foam. You'll need fins to do this well & while you might get a little beat up learning how to do it, it's worth the learning curve. Annnnd, just found a good tutorial here.
Things to Do:
If you're paying to stay on the beach...you should go to the beach. I'm kidding, but really, we spend all day everyday at the beach. When you have a wide range of ages & interests it works. One year early on we made the mistake of going to Knott's Berry Farm...halfway through the day, we all looked at each other & wished we were at the beach. We haven't made that mistake again. Some days if its raining or windy or even extra hot & sunny we'll catch a quick movie, but for the most part we stay at the beach.
Or we ride bikes. Each morning we typically ride to the Newport Pier & eat Seaside Donuts. I go for the donut holes & chocolate milk, but we've tried just about all of them. You're really not there for the amazing donuts...moreso the morning bike ride & company.
Other times, we might ride to Balboa. We used to do this during the day, but more often we go in the evening, enjoy the ferris wheel & Balboa bar & drool over beautiful homes. In a pinch we drive, but bike riding is much more fun.
Places to Eat. Most often times we eat in...we've always had a big crowd and a lot of babies, but over the years those babies have grown and sometimes our crowd thins & we find ourselves venturing out more and more. We've found a couple gems...and even specific dishes we manage to hit every year. In no particular order these are some favorites:
Big Belly Deli -- call in your order & have one person go pick it up & enjoy lunch on the beach, I have yet to have a sandwich I don't love.
Bruxies -- take a longish bike ride to Huntington, then reward yourself with a little shopping at Jacks's & HSS and brunch at Bruxies, where they make delicious waffle sandwiches. I always go savory, but my kids LOVE the s'more version.
Sanchos Taco -- a quick bike ride for dinner, eat in or pick up for a crowd.
Sidecar Donuts -- we typically send a runner to pick them up & enjoy a lazy breakfast on the patio. We love the maple bacon & the butter & salt mmmm.
Ruby's Shake Shack -- the food is just okay, but the shakes are amazing & the view is unbeatable! You'll wait in line just to park, but it's worth it. Shakes for dinner are fine too on vacation, right?
Adults only night is my favorite night. Once we reached an age where we had kids old enough to babysit, all bets were off & we enjoy ourselves with a long dinner out. Our 2 favorite spots:
Eat Chow. So good, we might have gone twice one year. You must order the artichoke appetizer AND some mac & cheese for the table. This year we were crazy & brought all our kids & I might have been fighting them for the last bites of their mac & cheese. So good.
Gulfstream. If you're local to Arizona, this is owned by the same people that own Houston's, so you know the food is good, but the atmosphere is lighter & brighter than Houston's. Biscuits for appetizers hit the spot & half of us ordered the ribs and licked them clean. The fries are perfection, the mashed potatoes to die for & the corn on the cob? Best I've ever had.
While we've always stayed in the same house, some other family that comes with us, always rents a new place. If you're looking for a place, start here.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.