On Orange County’s sunny coast, Newport Beach is a swanky spot for sand and surf. Down on the Balboa Peninsula, all the action revolves around the yacht harbor, where carnival rides and a historic pavilion that’s gorgeously illuminated at night await. Also lining the peninsula are tempting miles of wide, white-sand beaches.
It’s a fast five-minute ferry ride across the harbor to old-fashioned Balboa Island, where you can stroll past quaint boutiques, cafes and shops that sell signature Balboa Bars: ice cream dipped in chocolate, peanuts, cookies and sprinkles. Back over on the peninsula, set up your beach chair anywhere between the piers. If you’re a bodysurfer, challenge “The Wedge” – if you dare.
With friends in tow, you can rent a canopied electric boat and lazily float around the harbor for a few hours with drinks and music on board. For a more romantic evening, book a gondola ride for two. Whenever you get hungry, take your pick of seafood kitchens and sushi bars dotted around the harbor.