Newport Beach visit (Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach: rental car, rental, credit card)
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My husband will have a meeting in NB next Jan/Feb for a week & I plan to go with him for a bit of a holiday. What is there to do & see? My husband has been there before & says there's not much, but there must be something of interest. (-: We'll be staying at the Marriott on Newport Center Drive, so is that close enough to walk to the downtown area? Anything to see downtown? I'm not that interested in just shopping, perhaps an art gallery or museum? Worth going to the beach in the winter? Thanks in advance.
There really isn't a Downtown in Newport Beach. Its an easy walk to Fashion Island (a very nice shopping center). The Orange County Museum of Art is also at Fashion Island. It is possible to take long walk to Balboa Island (small shops, restaurants), then catch the ferry to the peninsula.
The weather can range anywhere from 50 -75 in the winter. It is also the rainy season. Evenings can get chilly. Water here is generally cold, but you can still enjoy the beach
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,955 posts, read 36,423,884 times
Balboa Village has a downtown of sorts. So does Balboa Island. Not a true downtown, but it is an area where most of the businesses are clustered.
If you wan art galleries, venture down to Laguna Beach. You will love it there.
Beach is awlays an option. We used to have a tradition of going swimming on Christmas day. Sometimes though it was just slip off a heavy bathrobe, jump in, take a picture, dash out and put the bathrobe back on and run for a hair dryer. Some years it was pleasant.
That would be a really long walk to Balboa island. look it up on Mapquest, but i think it is several miles. Fashion island is pretty neat and the big Newport movie theater is fun (make sure you go to the big theater, the little ones are just theaters. There is an Irish pub next door to the theater that is great for both food and drinks, but it gets crowded on weekends.
Anything else involves driving. I wodl suggest:
Catalina Island (ship leaves from Balboa - this is an all day thing to do). Snorkle in fisherman cove, tour the old casino, ride a bike out into the wilds fo the isalnd and watch buffalo, or just hang out in town and relax.
The Bower Museum in Santa Ana (this is the only thing in OC that is on Foders must see things in California).
If you like antiques, Old town Orange.
If you like to hike, Holy Jim Falls trail is the most pleasant, but hard to get to. Silverado Canyon has some nice trails if you get off the pavement. Whiting Racnh has the Red Rock Canyon which is pretty neat.
Bird watching along the Newport Back bay (kinda boring).
Whale watching cruises are really neat, even if you only see dolphins (which count as whales).
Dog beach in Huntington can be fun if you are a dog lover.
Tide pool beach just north of Laguna at low tide.
Del Cornoado hotel and coronado island in General (San Diego)
San Diego Zoo and/or wild animal park.
Sea World San Diego.
Some people like Tijuana Mexico (bring your passport and dont carry a lot of cash).
4th street promenade in Santa Monica and watch wierdos at Venice Beach while you are there.
Phillipes french dip if you ride up to LA on the train. Havent been there in several years, is it still open?
There is a garment district and a jewelry district in downtown where you can get some great deals if you are a shopper.
Universal Studio tour can be entertaining in a kitschy sort of way.
Lots of people like to go se Hollyweird. I think it is boring. Up to you.
That should be enough to keep you bus for a while. Next year we will give you a new list.
as others have mentioned, there's not much besides the shopping mall within walking distance of your hotel. if you get a rental car, laguna beach would be a must see and you might also want to check out the area around the newport pier (both of which no more than a 10-15 minute drive). as for going to the beach to hang out in jan/feb, you certainly won't want to bring your bathing suit and an umbrella. you'd be better off walking along the boardwalk and maybe taking in the views from the pier. in some areas you'll be able to see the ocean and the snow capped local mountains.
Don't be afraid to take a cab within Newport. Your hotel may have some great shuttle services too. If strictly shopping is boring to you, there are a lot of things to see and visit in Corona Del Mar just down the road as well as in Newport. Great food everywhere. Just bring lots of money.
Oh, and if you like boats and yachts, well you will be in yacht central. Balboa is worth the time, but small. You will see the downtown in minutes. If you like driving around looking at houses, you again are in house central. Beach houses to McMansions everywhere.
If you play golf or tennis the courts and courses are all in good shape 12 months a year. And the beaches can be warm and friendly even in Jan/Feb. We've had our share of clear 80* days that time of year. Just depends on how the weather rolls.
The little CDM (Corona Del Mar) beach is within NB, smaller, quieter, small waves because it is in a cove. At one end of the beach is the rocks where people used rock climb and climb over the rocks to the other side to a teeny, tiny beach where the sea lions sun themselves. You are not supposed to climb on the rocks now. Most likely a rock climber fell and was injured or more sea lions are on the little, tiny, baby beach now and they need to be protected. Whatever the reason there is a sign now saying, "Do not climb on the rocks." which everyone ignores if no lifeguard is present. Little CDM beach is closer to your hotel than the mean beach. At the other end of the beach, at the base of the cliff, is a nice tide pool that you can reach during low tide. Wear shoes as your feet will get cut up. Go at the start of low tide, watch the tide as you could get stuck on the other side of the cliff if you wait too long to come back before high tide comes. If you can find a walking stick that is helpful to help you balance as you step from rock to rock. There are starfish, sea anemonies and all kinds of tide pool sea creatures. It is really good. This beach is also known as "thousand step beach" to us locals because the beach is down below and there is a very tall stair case that people use to run the stairs as part of their workout. You avoid the "thousand step stairs" if you drive down the driveway to the beach instead of walking down the stairs and then then having to climb them again. But, hey, it is good exercise.
Newport Beach pier. This is where the shops are, the fast food places, restaurants and bars. It is good atmosphere. The cops park right in front of the bars so they can sweep up the drunk drivers. Do NOT go out drinking an drive. Our drunk driving law are super, super strict and people will call 911 to report you if you are weaving or seen leaving a restaurant or bar after drinking a lot and getting into a car. NB pier is often photographed and painted. It is an iconic landmark. Take your camera so you can take your own photos of the pier.
Laguna Beach is an artist colony in the hills, very picturesque and beautiful. The architecture in old and it looks very Mayberry and 1950s ideal life. It is gorgeous. The First Thursday Art Walk in Laguna Beach is fabulous!!!!!!! The art galleries stay open late to host the Art Walk. The galleries put out champagne, strawberries, cookies, cheese, crackers, etc. You walk from gallery to gallery, drink your way through the galleries, talk about art, people watch, look at the great art and then head to a yummy dinner in LB. The website changes as the date changes. It always lists the next date, but not very far in advance. Just know the Art Walk is the first Thu of every month and you can't go wrong. I would suggest you attempt to make the First Thursday Art Walk as Laguna Beach is famous, famous for the artists and art galleries. I've met people on flights home from Europe and they told me, "I am going to Laguna Beach for the Pageant of the Masters, Sawdust Festival and to see the art galleries." Too bad you are coming in the summer time because then you could go to the Pageant of the Masters and the Sawdust Festival. There is the Winter Festival, but that is Nov and Dec. It will be over you arrive.
There are some really good restaurants in Laguna Beach. I like Thai Brothers Restaurant. It is very, very small, intimate and casual so seating is limited. I go early to avoid the line. There are lots of restaurants in Laguna, but Thai Brothers is one of my favorites.
Las Brisas is the restaurant version of a fast food chain. I can't recall the name of the fast food chain. Las Brisas doesn't have great food, but what they do have is the absolute BEST view of Laguna Beach and the sunset on the ocean. You can see Catalina Island from here. It is really pretty. You might want to eat someplace else, but order drinks on the patio to watch the sunset. It is beautiful and makes you feel very mellow to watch the sunset from the cliff. Right beside the restaurant is a gazebo on the cliff where people get married as the sun sets. It has spectacular views on the sunset. If you do not have drinks at Las Brisas at least go to the gazebo for the best view of the sunset. You will not regret it. Take your camera as the sunsets are unbelievably beautiful. Las Brisas is an institution. Everyone has been there for the sunset and everyone will know it.
There are loads of places you can walk to in Laguna Beach once you are there looking at art. I just can't think of the names or addresses of the restaurants.
This is my favorite place to eat sea food. If you are coming to the coast you should at least eat sea food. I really like the Rusty Pelican. I go to the one in Newport and order the Pom Pom Tini. It is super yummy! It is a pomegranate martini and sooooo good! www.rustypelican.com
Catalina Island is not to be missed. It is cooler on the island than on the mainland so take a coat. There is a glass bottom boat ride, para-sailing, a tram tour of the island, shopping, loads of restaurants and bars. There is a great kelp forest off the Casino Point. I got certified for SCUBA diving at Catalina. If you dive this is a great spot to dive. The Garibaldi, eels and lobsters hide in the kelp forest. If you go on the glass bottom boat ride they throw out chum to attract the shy fish. Catalina is very, very relaxing. It is a small, sleepy community with a slow pace of life that helps you unwind. It is very Mayberry. If you look at websites about Catalina you can see what all is there. The boat ride to the island is 60-90 minutes depending of if you take off from Long Beach Port or from Orange County.
Catalina is beautiful, relaxing and a nice example of what seaside villages used to look like. If you get seasick you can take the helicopter over. Laguna Beach is also a nice example of what a beautiful seaside village used to look like. Seal Beach is another small, cute seaside community. The Main Street at Sea Beach is small. It is shopping, restaurants, bars, ice cream, etc.
Huntington Beach is "Surf City USA" and super famous for the good surfing and the US Open World Cup Competition of Surfing. There are webcams on the pier that are streamed live to Hollister stores nationwide. You want to visit HB since it is one of our most famous cities. Weekends there are festivals where vendors set up tents to sell their wares at the pier. I forget which day of the week is Farmer's Market at the pier. I am sure you can find information on the Huntington Beach Farmer's Market if you want to search for it. I like the Farmer's Market as they have strange things I do not know and plenty of organic, pesticide free produce. If you look at the HB city website you can find their calendar of events.
Little Saigon in Westminster on Bolsa is where the Vietnamese settled after the fall of Saigon. The restaurants have nice food. Some even have menus in English and with photos of the food. Sometimes the wait staff speaks English and other times not. It is a dining adventure to roam the restaurants in Little Saigon. The Korean District is at one end of Little Saigon if you want to have Korean food. I would suggest you try Korean food or Vietnamese food while you are here. K-Town (Korea Town) is located in L.A. if you want to explore up there. Our Asian population hs their own districts, foods, markets and it is fun to explore. I shop at two Middle Eastern markets, a Japanese market and a Korean market. I can find things there I like that are not found in the regular market.
L.A. has: K-Town. China Town, The Thai District, Little Tokyo, Little India (in Artesia which is closer than L.A.), Little Manila and more. This what I can think of off the top of my head.
For museums: Bowers in Santa Ana is small, but it has a nice collection. In L.A. There is LACMA (this is huge and will take you 2 days to see it all), Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena, this is the museum you see every year when you watch the Rose Parade. spectacular collection. takes 3/4 of the day to do the museum), Huntington Library (Pasadena, must make reservations ahead of time, a library of manuscripts, art and HUGE gardens. I think there are 6 kinds of gardens with each on its own acre?), Old Getty Museum in Malibu which has a spectacular collection of old masters and gardens (this museum only lets you in by reservation only because parking is limited and it is in a residential area. it takes all day to do this museum) , New Getty in L.A./Brentwood with the newer pieces they collected and old pieces (it takes from morning to night to do this museum).
LAMCA is right beside The La Brea Tar Pits. There is a naturally occurring tar pit on Wilshire Blvd. Tar bubbles up from inside the earth and has been been doing this from the beginning of time. The museum exhibits the bones of a woolly mammoth, saber tooth tiger and ancient woman from 10,000 years ago who fell into the tar pits or was cast into the tar pits. It is an interesting museum to see the bones of animals and a human that were preserved because they fell into the tar pit. If you hurry you can see both on the same day. Just pick and choose from the museum map what you wish to view and skip the other stuff that does not interest you. Since the museums are beside each other, use the same parking lot and you can walk from one to the other you can see both on the same day if you rush and show up when they open. If you show up later or don't want to rush pick whichever one interests you more.
LACMA and the 2 Getty Museums are our best museums. They are world class and rival any museum in Europe.
Armand Hammer Museum - very small, skip it unless they have a Faberge egg installation again.
MOCA - www.moca.org
Santa Monica pedestrian zone and pier for people watching, shopping, dinner, the ferris wheel on the pier and to visit an iconic location that is often featured in films and TV shows.
Venice Beach! This is where the freaks are and it has fantastic people watching. My favorites are: the guy who juggles chain saws and the guy who does a portrait of your backside instead of your face. This is where the street performers are located and the guy who roller skates in the loud Uncle Sam outfit playing an electric guitar. He has been seen in a load of music videos, TV shows and films. The people you see in movies as characters when the film is shot in Venice Beach really do exist and they perform at Venice Beach. This is a favorite tourist destination and world famous for people who come from around the world. Everyone wants to see the street performer balance a girl in a office chair on his chin. This is a do not miss destination. You will have many fond memories of your trip if you go here. Most likely in the winter time you want to go here on a weekend for the best show. During the summer...any day is good. During the winter it is slow during the week. During the summer the place is hopping. The street performers only show up when they will get the biggest donations when the hat is passed. Venice is a city that allows street performers. They have pushed out of Santa Monica and other cites. Venice is the only place they have left to earn a living as a street performer. The tradition of street performing in Venice is long.
You can take a gondola ride in Venice Beach through the canals. It is very romantic. The gondola rides are at Venice Beach and Long Beach, Naples Area. They are the real deal gondolas like in Venice, Italy and quite romantic. You can bring fruit, cheese and crackers, wine or champagne with you while you cruise with your gondolier steering the way. Some gondoliers can sing for you, but others can not. It depends on your gondolier. Some men propose while in the gondola. It is that romantic. This is not something that is widely known. Most people are unaware the gondolas exist. If you are going to be in Venice anyway, why not book a gondola ride? You can have dinner afterward in Venice and that gives you some time to lower your blood alcohol before you drive if you drink while in the gondola.
If you want to visit the most expensive mall in all United States you can visit South Coast Plaza. One part of the mall is normal shopping. One wing is nothing but fashion houses from Milan and Paris. People fly in from across the country just to shop at this mall. I was shocked when people told me, "I am here to shop at South Coast Plaza." Did you come for any other reason? No, no just shopping. Are you going to do anything else besides shop? No, just shop.
If you want to do some serious damage to your credit cards or just window shop this mall may be for you. There are lots of really nice restaurants near this mall since it is close to The Performing Arts Center. If you want to see a show you can check out the schedule for The Performing Arts Center.
My all time favorite Indian place in OC is Punjab Cuisine in Fountain Valley on Brookhurst just off the 405 freeway. It is mom and pop owned and operated. The food is to die for!!! It is hard for me to find a really good Indian restaurant. I lived in India so I am picky, but this place is a place I go all the time. I love it. The owner of my favorite Indian restaurant in L.A. retired and sold the restaurant. Now it is not as good. They no longer bring chefs from Punjab and the food is suffering. Punjab Cuisine is the best I have found in L.A. and OC. The decor is not the best. It is kind of tacky, but the food is wonderful and decently priced. The owners are a family from India. They make the food to your taste. However much spices you handle (heat) is what they give you. If you say "mild" the food will be bland and tasteless. Ask for some spice so you have flavor in your food. Everyone I have taken to this restaurant raves about it.
I associate travel with food because some of my favorite memories of place like Athens, Helsinki, Turku, Mumbai, Chennai, Munich, Tallin, etc. involve really good food. Normally, I am not interested in food. I only really think about it when I travel. I hope you do not mind my food suggestions as food on a vacation can cement your memories.
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,955 posts, read 36,423,884 times
I thought that Fashion Island was more pricy than SCP.
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