Newport Beach Travel Guide

USA  #9 in Best California Beaches

Free Things To Do in Newport Beach

If you have extra time, Newport Harbor is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Newport Beach
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    #1 in Newport Beach
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Corona Del Mar State Beach is one of the most popular shorelines in the city – and for good reason. Its calm surf makes it ideal for swimmers, and the half-mile-long stretch of sand means it's easy to find a spot to sunbathe. The beach is hugged by towering cliffs and provides a picture-perfect backdrop for a romantic date night or a family photo.

    Near the parking lots, you'll find many volleyball nets for public use. The beach offers public restrooms, outdoor showers and an array of picnic tables. There are also fire pits for public use during normal beach hours (from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.) available on a first-come, first-served basis; you'll have to bring your own wood and fire starters, though.

  • #4
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    #4 in Newport Beach
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    A small, man-made island connected to the Newport Beach mainland by bridge, Balboa Island is bursting with fun activities. Marine Avenue is the island's main hub for shopping and dining. Here, you'll find independently owned boutiques, shops and restaurants. This street is home to restaurants that serve up the island's two signature treats: the Balboa Bar, which is an ice cream bar rolled in candy, and the Frozen Banana, which is loaded with toppings. For the best of the best, sample these desserts at either Dad's Donut and Bakery Shop or Sugar 'N' Spice. If you're looking to get out on the water, there are plenty of places to rent paddleboards, kayaks, sailboats and an array of water sports equipment. Bicycle rental establishments are also popular, as cycling is a great way to get around the small (only 0.2 square miles) island.

    While you can drive to Balboa Island, many visitors suggest taking the ferry to avoid traffic and spend time on the water. Boarding the ferry on foot only costs $1.25 one-way for adults, and most ferries hold about 40 people. The ferries each hold about four vehicles, and it costs $2.25 one-way to board with a car. There is a sidewalk all around the island that makes walking from place to place a breeze, so you may want to consider leaving the car on the mainland. The ferry operates consistently between 6:30 a.m. and midnight every day, and a one-way ride takes about 10 minutes. It leaves from the port near Balboa Fun Zone and arrives at a public dock on the west side of Balboa Island. For more information on this destination, check out the tourism website.

  • #5
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    #5 in Newport Beach
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Life in Newport Beach centers around its expansive harbor, which nearly encircles Balboa Island. As you stroll along its banks, you'll be in awe of the many colorful sailboats and charter boats docked there. You'll pass many yacht clubs along the way as well. The naturally created harbor is a hub of rental activity, so if you're thinking of renting a boat for the day, it's the place to go. Sightseeing boats and excursions like sunset tours also leave from this area.

    Throughout the year, the harbor plays host to many marine events, including the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race, which occurs annually in late April and draws hundreds of spectators from all over Southern California and beyond.

  • #6
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    #6 in Newport Beach
    Amusement Parks, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Amusement Parks, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Balboa Fun Zone lives up to its name. The small park is full of fun activities for children, and with views of the Pacific, adults are sure to enjoy their time as well. This boat yard-turned-amusement park has been in operation since the mid-1900s. Over time, more and more activities have been added, and nowadays there are enough features to keep you busy for hours.

    The main attraction is the Ferris wheel that overlooks the sea and provides panoramic views of the rest of the Balboa Peninsula and beyond. It costs $5 to ride, and children younger than 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult. The Ferris wheel is independently owned, so its operating hours differ from the rest of the park; it's open daily from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.

  • #9 in Newport Beach
    Free, Shopping
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Shopping
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Fashion Island is a shopper's paradise, featuring more than 100 brand name stores and independent boutiques. There are seemingly endless options, including large chain stores like Anthropologie, Bloomingdale's, Lily Pulitzer, Macy's, Neiman Marcus and so many more.

    In addition to being an alfresco shopping hub, Fashion Island also shelters a variety of casual and upscale dining options, a Whole Foods Market, a movie theater and a SoulCycle. Recent visitors described the complex as a stylish hub of activity with ample green spaces and areas to sit and relax. Parents said their children enjoy playing with the little games scattered around the area while they shopped. Many also appreciated that the area is dog-friendly, as are some restaurants in the complex.

  • View all Photos
    Free, Parks and Gardens, Hiking
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Parks and Gardens, Hiking
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

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