Most of the activity in Newport Beach (www.visitnewportbeach.com ) centers around Newport Pier (McFadden Pl.) and Main Street on the Balboa Peninsula. Some folks like to hearken back to the old days of individual beach houses and long, lazy summer vacations.
The Crystal Cove Beach Cottages (35 Crystal Cove, Newport Beach, 949/497-0900, www.crystalcovebeachcottages.org , dorm rooms $30, cabins $180) can help recreate the feeling of another time. Right out on the sands of historic Crystal Cove south of downtown Newport Beach , this collection of 14 cabins offers a delightful and serene beach vacation experience to all who stay here.
Eleven of the cabins are individual rentals where you get the whole house to yourself. The other three “dorm cottages” offer by-the-room accommodations (linens included, room doors lock) that let even solo budget travelers the opportunity to experience life on a Southern California beach.
Cottages include a common refrigerator and microwave, but no full kitchen so you’ll need to make plans to eat out—perhaps at the adjacent Beachcomber Restaurant or concession-style Shake Shack. Maid service is minimal, with towels changed every four days and trash taken out daily. None of the cottages have TVs or any type of digital entertainment.
The Island Hotel Newport Beach (690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, 949/759-0808, www.theislandhotel.com , $400) offers perhaps the ultimate O.C. experience. It’s a luxury, high-rise hotel situated in a giant shopping mall, within a few minutes’ drive of the beach. No, really.
On the bright side, the tropical-themed rooms really do have both luxury and comfort in abundance. Expect cushy beds with white linens, attractive private bathrooms, big TVs, views over the mall (and if you’re lucky, out to the ocean beyond the city), and all the best amenities. Perhaps the most innovative of these goodies rests within the room service menu; it’s called the “In-Flight Menu” and it’s a selection of gourmet box lunches. The idea is to allow airline travelers to carry on their own food.
The hotel’s Palm Terrace (690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, 949/760-4920, www.theislandhotel.com , daily 6:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m., $10–35) offers stylish small bites and sophisticated entrées in a picturesque setting.
For something French, colorful Pescadou Bistro (3325 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, 949/675-6990, www.pescadoubistro.com , Tues.–Sun. 5:30–close, $20–35) will fill the bill.