Top 10 Reasons to Visit Newport Beach

A coastal scene featuring a bustling beach with sunbathers and swimmers, adjacent to a packed parking area, set against a backdrop of palm tree-lined streets with residential houses and terraces cascading the hillside, exemplifying the local lifestyle and leisure as highlighted in The Scout Guide.

Originally published in The Scout Guide Newport Beach, Volume 2 with Visit Newport Beach.

Volume 2 Member Visit Newport Beach Inc. is an incredible resource for Newport Beach travel and tourism. Their team of destination experts is on standby to help visitors plan the perfect stay, offering insights on everything from the best restaurants to must-see attractions. In Volume 2, they highlighted the top ten reasons to visit Newport Beach.


Thanks to an influx of new restaurants, Newport Beach has become Orange County’s top culinary destination. Across its ten unique neighborhoods, find a wealth of culinary delights – seemingly on every corner. From swank restaurants touting steaks, seafoods, and sommeliers to healthy eateries and hidden local gems, Newport Beach offers over 400 restaurants to please every palate. Need to narrow down your options? We recommend new-to-Newport hotspots like Skal Pizza, SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa, Palmilla Tequila y Cocina, SET Steak & Sushi at Pendry, Toastique, Starfish, The Whaler, Parakeet Café and JOEY.

DON’T MISS: Newport Beach’s signature culinary experience is the Dock & Dine. Simply rent an easy-to-operate electric boat and head to over a dozen waterfront restaurants in Newport Harbor to dock your boat and dine inside or order a Dock & Dine and enjoy a floating picnic. 


Family owned and operated since 1975, Roger’s Garden is a Corona del Mar landmark. With a veritable wealth of horticulture, it’s the ultimate destination for the botanically-inclined. Expect hundreds of plant species – from herbs and fruit trees to roses, landscape plants, and indoor trees – alongside gardener essentials like tools, imported Italian pottery, fountains, and plant care favorites. You’ll also find a well-curated selection of indoor/outdoor furnishings, entertaining essentials, and gifts, as well as an impressive lineup of educational programming and enthusiastic garden experts to answer your every question. 

DON’T MISS: Over-the-top seasonal events from their holiday boutiques to the world’s largest tomato plant sale. 


The Wedge is one of the most iconic surf spots on the West Coast and, certainly, in Orange County. Located at the extreme southeast end of Balboa Peninsula at the intersection of the beach and a manmade jetty, the right south or south/west swells can produce waves up to 30 feet high. A serendipitous byproduct of alterations to the Newport Harbor (completed and re-dedicated on May 23, 1936), The Wedge stole Newport Harbor’s unofficial title as the West Coast’s premier surf spot.

DON’T MISS: Its feature in the cult classic film, Endless Summer.


With 3.2 miles of beach, 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness, over 15 total miles of trails, an offshore underwater area, and a 2.5-mile paved trail running along the bluffs, Crystal Cove State Park is one of Orange County’s largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore. Its stunning beach and bluffs have been captured in American film, by American Impressionist painters, and in the photo albums of countless day-trippers and vacationers over the past 150 years. In fact, Crystal Cove first attracted Hollywood filmmakers in the 1920s before seasonal tent-dwellers took up residence in the 1930s. For the next half-century, a handful of families leased on-site cottages from the Irvine Company, which owned most of the area’s coastal ranchlands until, in 1979, the land was sold to the state of California for preservation as a State Park. 

DON’T MISS: The Park’s 46 vintage, rustic coastal cottages are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They have all been refurbished and are available to reserve. 


Since 1919, the Balboa Island Ferry has provided continuous service for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians between Balboa Island and Balboa, approximately 800 feet across the harbor. An alternate route is available via bridges, but many choose the ferry to enjoy a scenic crossing with historic charm. In the 1950s, local Joseph Allan Beek built three double-ended wooden boats for his ferry service: the Admiral, the Commodore, and the Captain. Each holds three cars and up to 75 people. Today, the Balboa Island Ferry is still a family-owned and operated business, with Beek’s sons currently operating the same three ferries. 

DON’T MISS: The 1936 Ferris wheel at the Fun Zone. 


By square footage, Newport Beach has more water than land. And at the heart – both literally and figuratively – is Newport Harbor, located between Balboa Peninsula and the mainland. Comprising seven islands, Newport Harbor is West Coast’s largest recreational harbor – a fact locals are quite proud of. Hire a sailboat, charter a yacht, or be the captain of your own Duffy, SUP, kayak, or jet ski to properly take in the famous views. 

DON’T MISS: Back Bay (officially called Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve & Ecological Reserve), Southern California’s largest remaining natural estuary, which flows into the Newport Harbor. 


The longest-running Christmas boat parade in the country, Newport Beach’s Christmas Boat Parade is a staple of local holiday festivities. Hosted by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Commodores Club, nearly a hundred extravagantly decorated vessels – from kayaks to yachts – make their way down the 14-mile course, illuminating the harbor. The course, called Ring of Lights, takes boats by what are arguably Newport Beach’s most festive homes. While locals often gather at friend’s and neighbors’ homes, visitors can take in the spectacle at Marina Park on any of the five consecutive nights the parade runs.

DON’T MISS: 50 Days of Festive Fun, kicking off in mid-November and running through the first week in January. 


Celebrated as one of the nation’s leading luxury lifestyle film festivals, the 25th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival brings the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world to Newport Beach for eight spectacular days. With over 350 films from 50 countries, special events, red carpet galas, compelling conversations with filmmakers, international spotlight events, and seminars, it’s a wonderful nod to the movie stars who have historically called Newport Beach home.

DON’T MISS: The caliber of celebrities and films makes this a must stop on the film awards circuit. 


Whether you’re looking for exclusive designer outposts or unique boutiques, you’ll find them here in walkable, open-air settings often boasting a view. Fashion Island is an outdoor mecca that encompasses over 125 upscale, specialty stores, many of which are exclusive to Newport Beach. For luxury, Lido Marina Village offers waterfront storefronts. Or, shop the charming boutiques of Marine Avenue on Balboa Island to discover unique finds and local artisan goods. For one-of-a-kind spots, Corona del Mar Village and Crystal Cove Shopping Center are peppered with hidden gems touting treasures worth the trip.

DON’T MISS: New retailers: Veronica Beard, Good American, Bad Birdie, Arhaus, and RH Gallery (late ‘24). 


Opened in 2018 and fittingly housed in a 1927 building with its own rich history, The Balboa Island Museum is a free educational experience dedicated to collecting, conserving, and celebrating the culture and history of Balboa Island, Newport Beach, and Orange County. The first and only museum dedicated to quintessential Newport Beach traditions and history, it tells the story of our community’s rich heritage. Expect exhibitions on surfing, fishing, and The Wedge; and learn about the locals – many of them artists – that are shaping the future of Balboa Island, Newport Beach, and Orange County at large. 

DON’T MISS: The well-curated gift shop that stocks local art and mementos, alongside a surprisingly chic collection of gifts and goods. 

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