Stay in pretty Newport Beach, California and enjoy the best of both worlds — with Disneyland nearby and beautiful beaches right beneath your feet.
Southern California’s picturesque Newport Beach, only 20 minutes from Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure theme parks, offers families torn between a resort or theme park weekend getaway, the best of both worlds. Newport Beach, aptly called “The Colorful Coast,” overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It consists of a number of unique villages chockfull of sites, sounds and attractions to suit the entire family.
Spread over 36 miles, areas of interest include Balboa Island, Balboa Peninsula, Cannery Village, Mariner’s Mile, Corona Del Mar, Fashion Island, Newport Center, Lido Marina Village and Back Bay Reserve. Although you can get a general overview in one weekend, you’ll want to visit again to partake in all that is offered.
On our weekend getaway, we focused on Newport Beaches’ many outdoor adventures, although we did sneak away to the Disney parks, and to do some serious shopping at as many of the 200 stores in Fashion Island as we could fit in when we weren’t dining, going to movies, or riding the new Venetian Carousel. We probably did try to cram in too much in a few short hours.
Our friends ran off with their little ones to Knott’s Berry Farm, which they said had an outstanding collection of thrill rides for very little riders. Unlike the big Six Flags park near their home, here their kids could enjoy racing their own vehicles at Charlie Brown’s Speedway and the big Rocky Road Truckin’ Company, spin in circles on the Camp Bus, do wild tricks on Joe Cool’s GR8 SK8, and enjoy other Peanuts and Snoopy themed fun rides. They had a blast, and it was cheap, because under-3s get in free.
Exploring Newport By Land & Sea
Back to the Outdoors! You can rent bicycles with tot tow trailers throughout the area to explore places like the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve, a 700-plus acre coastal wetland that is home to 200 rare and endangered bird species. After checking out the quaint shops and restaurants on Balboa Island, a ferry can take you across to Balboa Peninsula and for some real excitement at the Fun Zone. There’s an old-fashioned carousel, Ferris wheel, bumper cars and a kid’s climbing area.
Boating of any kind is popular in the region, especially in the flat-bottom Duffy electric boats that hardly leave a ripple on the bay. Ask your hotel for the local “Duffy Boat” rental concession and take the whole family out in one.
Sailors will be interested to know that each year, Newport enthusiastically hosts the Newport To Ensenada International Yacht Race from Orange County to Mexico, spanning the last weekend in April. It’s very colorful and great fun to watch from the pier.
For an unusual sea-escapade, families can take a gondola ride from Adventures at Sea. You may want to give them advance warning of your party, as these traditional Italian style boats are usually booked by honeymooners and they provide chocolates, champagne and romantic music for the usual guests.
Details, Details for the Hungry & Tired
After a day at sea, or jsut strolling the pier, your family can eat casually at the famous Ruby’s Diner. It’s celebrating its 25th year of being a 1940’s style diner right on the tip of Balboa Pier and French fries come in a car-shaped container. Or, try dining back at one of the 40 restaurants at Fashion Island — though they can’t touch the view. Fine dining can be had at traditional favorites The Arches, and Amelias Seafood & Italian Restaurant.
A range of accommodations are offered throughout the Newport Beach area, starting with budget boutique hotels like the waterfront and moderately priced Best Western Newport Beach Inn (949/642-8252).
The sprawling Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa (949/640-4000) is one of a whopping 74 Marriott branded hotels in this part of southern California. (Marriott fans can check out the moderately priced Residence Inn nearby too.)
The posh Fairmont Newport Beach (800/441-1414, 949/640-4000) offers 444 worthy-of-celebrities guestrooms, including 56 family-welcoming suites. Every room is restyled in rich woods and — in keeping with the trend toward ultra-luxury accommodations — has flat panel TVs, Bose DVD players, high-speed Internet access, European linens, and fancy toiletries. All of the local hotels mentioned offer private babysitting and occasional family programs, depending on season.
Newport Beach is minutes away from Orange County’s John Wayne International Airport, 50 miles south of Los Angeles and 85 miles north of San Diego. For more information contact the Newport Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau (800/94-COAST).
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