Gorgeous Newport Beach is one of the world's wealthiest enclaves, but residents cheerfully welcome anyone who wants to enjoy their postcard-perfect coastline and festive collection of attractions. Stroll the famous boardwalk or walk out on the historic pier—or surf the break just to south; there are several popular spots to catch the waves crashing toward town.

See history at the century-old Balboa Pavilion, one of California's original, Victorian-era "recreational facilities" overlooking the Pacific, or stop by the Orange County Museum of Art. Of course, Orange County is more famous for its mall culture, and iconic Fashion Island truly is an impressive shopping center.

About 1,000 feet offshore is even more opulent Balboa Island, a beautiful place to spend a lazy afternoon. The bohemian-chic city-within-a-city has even more gorgeous beaches, one-of-a-kind shops, and a range of restaurants serving excellent food for almost any budget.

Practical Info

Newport Beach and Balboa Island are popular, particularly on sunny weekends, when it seems that half of Orange County is lining up for an ice cream cone (or parking place) in front of you. Relax, you're going to the beach.

In addition to a handful of hotels and B&Bs, there are dozens of vacation homes for rent, which can be a much better deal.

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