Whether you’re traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway on a west coast road trip or you live in Southern California and need a staycation, a day in Newport Beach will never disappoint.
Located approximately one-hour by car from Los Angeles (depending on traffic), this beachside haven located in Orange County is full of enough food, fun and sun to keep you satisfied for months. But considering you probably can’t pick up and move to Newport Beach, here’s how to have one prefect day.
1) Breakfast at Wilma’s Patio
You’ve got a big day ahead of you and you’ll need a big breakfast to keep you fueled. For that, head to Wilma’s Patio, a casual breakfast joint with a huge menu located in the heart of Balboa Island’s main drag. Be warned, breakfast is a bit pricey but the portions are generous.
For something affordable, filling and delicious,choose the egg and cheese breakfast sandwich with sausage. But if you’re looking to splurge, go for the create-your-own omelet or one of their many Eggs Benedict dishes.
Tip: To stay on track for the rest of your day, I’d recommend being out the door by 10:30am, so plan your arrival accordingly.
2) Ferry to Balboa Peninsula
Leaving Wilma’s Patio, turn right and walk down Marine Avenue until you reach the water and the pedestrian path that runs along it. Turn right and walk 10 to 15 minutes past postcard perfect houses neatly packed together, each with a dock, a few kayaks, and a sail boat.
You can’t miss the small Balboa Island ferry which will take you (along with two or three cars) from Balboa Island to Balboa Peninsula in about three minutes. Ferries run back and forth continuously and cost $1 per person each way.
3) Stand Up Paddle Board Tour
Right next to the ferry drop off is Balboa Water Sports. It’s here that your 11am stand up paddle boarding (SUP) tour of Newport Harbor will depart. If you’ve never SUP’d before or just want a local’s knowledge along the way, this two hour tour is the way to go and only costs $10 more than renting boards for the same amount of time (rentals cost $25/per hour). While the SUP tour usually costs $60, you can often find SUP deals on the Los Angeles and Orange County sections of sites like Groupon, Zozi, and Living Social.
For beginners and pros alike, Newport Harbor is one of the best places to SUP in Southern California. Between the boats, homes and other lucky people out on the water, there’s a lot to look at — plus it’s calm with no ocean waves.
Tip: Make sure to call in advance of your visit to reserve your spot on a tour or to reserve a board.
4) Rent Bikes
After you’ve paddled, it’s time to peddle.
From Balboa Water Sports, walk over to Seaside Bike Rental and rent a beach cruiser for $5 per hour (locks and baskets included). From here, it’s just a few feet before you’re on the Newport Balboa Bike Trail, a smooth concrete path that runs along the beach. From Seaside Bike Rental, turn right and bike north (stopping along the way to relax at the beach at your leisure) until you reach 30th street. From here it’s just a few blocks inland to Bear Flag Fish Co. where you’ll be eating lunch.
5) Lunch at Bear Flag Fish Company
A favorite spot with Newport Beach locals, Bear Flag Fish Co. is a fish market and eatery that serves up insanely fresh fish tacos. Unlike most fish tacos which automatically come with a random white fish, you can choose the fish you want from a list that includes salmon, yellowfin, albacore and more. I choose seared albacore tune and added avocado. And for just $3.95, you’ll be pleased to get a taco loaded with huge chunks of fresh fish and topped with a giant slice of avocado. You can eat inside, but I’d recommend taking your plate to the patch of artificial grass at the side of the building and sprawling out with the locals.
After eating your fill, it’s time to return your bikes and make your way back to the Balboa Island Ferry.
6) Dad’s Donut and Pastry Shop (and Frozen Banana)
Back on Balboa Island, head for Marine Avenue (where you began your day). Just up the street from Wilma’s Patio you’ll find your reward for a day’s hard work – Dad’s Donut and Bakery Shop. You burned a lot of calories this afternoon SUPing and biking (and ate a healthy lunch of fish tacos) so it’s time to let loose and order a few of Dad’s homemade donuts. I ordered an applesauce donut, a blueberry donut, and a glazed donut (I shared them with my friends) and each one was better than the next.
Next, try one of Dad’s frozen bananas which are dipped in chocolate and covered in the topping of your choice (I chose cinnamon crunch and wasn’t disappointed). The frozen banana is to Balboa Island what pizza is the New York City — you can’t leave without eating one.
As a very joyous sugar high sets in and you look around reflecting on your day, you’ll begin to devise a plan to turn this Perfect Day: Newport Beach into Perfect Life: Newport Beach. This of course, is a normal side effect of spending a day eating and playing in one of America’s most beautiful towns.
View Perfect Day: Newport Beach in a larger map
Wilma’s Patio: 203 Marine Avenue - Newport Beach, CA 92662 - (949) 675-5542
Balboa Water Sports: 600 East Edgewater Avenue - Newport Beach, CA 92661 - (949) 723-5387
Seaside Bike Rental: 105 Main St # A - Newport Beach, CA 92661 – (949) 270-6911
Bear Flag Fish Company: 407 31st Street - Newport Beach, CA 92663 - (949) 673-3474
Dad’s Donut and Bakery Shop: 318 Marine Avenue - Newport Beach, CA 92662 - (949) 673-8686