In the deepest darkest depths of Winter, there’s no better time to plan a visit to Southern California. Los Angeles might be the destination on most people’s lips (and geo-tags) but if you’re looking for something more low-key, with no pressure to see or be seen, then look no further.
A mere 45-minute drive from LAX is Newport Beach, a petite coastal city that oozes luxury, nestled in the heart of Orange County (a region that’s best known for skateboarding, surfing, sandy beaches and cult moneyed teenage TV shows like ‘Laguna Beach’ and ‘The OC’).
As the perfect weekend getaway if you’re already visiting LA, or the perfect long-stay Southern California vacation, the lifestyle in Newport is simple and infectious: it’s always sunny, juicing is life, boating is as common as Ubering, and all your favourite shops, restaurants and brands are all within an arms reach. Imagine Beverly Hills if it was surrounded by water and traffic didn’t exist. A dream.
If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury California vacation, look no further. These are the best things to do in Newport Beach.
Stay at Pelican Hill
Simply put, Pelican Hill is paradise. Nestled on top of the surrounding hills, with panoramic views of the ocean, Pelican Hill is the pinnacle of luxury.
With multi-bedroom stand-alone villas and mini-mansions (available to rent and perfect for long-stays), a colosseum-inspired swimming pool, and miles of sun-drenched coves within a few feet of the hotel – no visit to California is complete without a stop-off at Pelican (as it’s known to locals). Book in for an hour-long relaxation massage and have lunch by the pool if you’re just passing through – you won’t regret it.
Basic rooms start at $356 per night during low season
Visit Balboa Island
If you’re a fan of ‘Arrested Development’ then look no further – this is where the sitcom is set. This miniscule and unbelievably adorable one-road island is a must-see. If nostalgia and Americana is your thing, then Balboa is perfect. Frozen bananas are the island’s signature bite, so be sure to pay a visit to Sugar n’Spice (the island’s first and most-cult frozen banana spot).
Shop at Fashion Island
This is just as good as it sounds. Fashion island is quite literally a huge open-air shopping experience where you can buy anything from a $1.2 million fully customised multi-coloured diamond Patek Philippe, the latest Jil Sander leather jacket, or shop all the Prada your heart desires. You could also just post up at Cheesecake Factory too. It’s that accessible. For the ultimate luxury experience, book in a complimentary styling service, where they will happily organise transport for you from your hotel. There’s even a hotel located directly opposite Fashion Island, which is perfect if you want to shop on your doorstep. Or even better, if you’re staying at Pelican, they will happily bring the shops to you. Whether that be Haute Couture sent in straight from Paris, or an overview of all the S/S collections – everything is possible.
Yacht through the Marina
There’s no bigger flex than Newport’s Marina. Move over millionaires, this is where the term billionaire’s playground comes into play. The lack of sea-facing space means that real estate prices here are astronomical (Newport Beach is home to the most expensive real estate in America). This is where you’ll find some of Newport’s best mega-mansions and super-yachts docked out front. Be sure to do as the locals do and hire a Duffy boat. Reminiscent of Italian sailing boats, a Duffy boat is every Newport locals go-to transport (even if they own a mega-yacht). Sail by sunset and dock and dine at Nobu at the Lido. The breezy open-air restaurant is the perfect spot to indulge in their iconic shitake salad.
Swim in Crystal Cove
This is where 3.5 miles of pristine uninterrupted coastline shows Newport for what it really is – the perfect laidback Californian beach town. Surrounded by white sand, caves, 1920s bungalows and clear water, there’s no better spot to surf or scuba dive on the California coastline.
For more travel tips and info, head to visitnewportbeach.com