Coastal Beauty

From Historic to Modern and Quaint to Stylish, Newport Beach is a Destination for Everyone

The airplane had barely reached cruising altitude before it began descending, and just shy of an hour after taking off from Phoenix Sky Harbor, I was touching down at John Wayne Airport in California. I strolled off the plane to a waiting car, and in less than 20 minutes, I was standing in the lobby of the recently remodeled and blissful VEA Newport Beach, A Marriott Resort & Spa. 

The space was welcoming and serene. My room overlooked the pool, with the golf course and the sea beyond. When the sunset that evening, I was treated to a stunning view of a fiery sky reflected on the water, set against the gently rolling greens.

Newport Beach is a luxurious, charming seaside destination with picturesque views and 10 distinct neighborhoods, each with its own vibe. There’s the Airport District, Black Bay, Balboa Island, Balboa Peninsula, Balboa Village, Lido Marina/Cannery Village, Corona Del Mar, Fashion Island, Mariner’s Mile/Westcliff, and Newport Coast/Crystal Cove. As for what to do, it's plentiful, from hiking dramatic coastlines, to surfing and boating, to shopping and dining, to relaxing, and much, much more.

On my first day there, I headed to Lido Marina, a charming village located waterside. For lunch, I stopped at the farm-to-table restaurant Malibu Farm Lido Village, enjoying a view of the nearby ocean and many boats from the open-air interior while I dined on the burrata salad.

Afterward, I wandered through the area’s boutiques before returning to VEA. 

The vibe took a high-energy turn with drinks and dinner at Pendry Hotel that night. This new Newport Beach destination is sleek and sophisticated, with cocktails and a dining experience to match. The bar was bustling, and SET Steak & Sushi served a truly stunning meal that tasted as exquisite as it looked (be sure to order the unique Bluefin Tuna Pizza, made with red onion, shiso, shallot, ponzu aioli, and truffle oil!).

The next day, I headed to picturesque Balboa Island. Breakfast at Wilma’s Patio—family-owned and -operated there for over 35 years—was a perfect start to the day. After taking in some history at the Balboa Island Museum Newport Beach, I boarded the Balboa Island Ferry—a small ferry that has been providing continuous service since 1919. It covers a distance of about 800 feet, bringing its passengers to the historic old town harbor, where both kids and adults alike can ride the rides—including a Ferris wheel—at The Fun Zone at Balboa Village. There’s also shopping, dining, boats to rent, parasailing, bike rentals, and excursions such as whale watching.

Unable to resist the whale-watching opportunity, I joined an excursion from Newport Coastal Adventure. Tickets are available near the dock. While we didn’t spot whales this time, we were surrounded by hundreds of dolphins, all leaping and playing around our boat.

That night, I headed to Pamilla Cocina y Tequila, an elevated Sonoran- and Baja-inspired culinary hotspot. The food was delicious, and for those who like tequilas and mezcals, this spot features the most extensive selection in Orange County.

Although the trip was a quick, Newport Beach, whether the quaint historic areas or the modern new hotspots, offers a restorative vibe that helps melt away any stress. Add in laying on the beach and it’s a perfect getaway.

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