For those who can make only one stop in Corona del Mar, make it the Corona del Mar State Beach. This area alone can make everyone fall in love with CdM, a laid-back multi-million-dollar neighborhood accented by the Pacific, with streets lined by palm trees and flower beds. On the bluff, three signs mark beach access: Lookout Point, Main Beach and Inspiration Point. Each point has a different view, but all share Catalina Island in the background, and Newport Bay and Balboa Island in the foreground. A few steps towards the south end of Ocean Boulevard is a secluded cove near the Robert E. Badham Marine Life Refuge, and some of the most extravagant mansions follow.
Sherman Library and Gardens is located on Pacific Coast Highway and has extensive botanical collections with examples of plant life from desert regions to tropical regions. It is a veritable outdoor museum of plants. Walk along the paths and smell the fragrant flowers and listen to the bubbling fountains. It really is an oasis that will take you away to a calmer, more peaceful place. The place also has a library on site which a delight for art lovers and bibliophiles.
A short walk from the bustling downtown Laguna Beach, this park is an amazing hidden oasis. The grassy bluff and the sandy beach with giant rocks and hidden caves makes this park a favorite spot for photographers, sunset watchers, picnickers, and even sea birds. There are also a variety of art stands selling local artwork.
It is no exaggeration to say that Disneyland Resort is one of the best-known attractions in the whole world. For 45 years, Disneyland Park was the only theme park at this site, and is the better known of the two amusement parks at Disneyland Resort. While the original Disneyland is about rides and fun Disney characters, the Disney California Adventure, built-in 2001, recreates the popular sights of California. Disneyland Resort also houses three resort hotels and the famous entertainment, dining and shopping district known as Downtown Disney. The hours of operation vary for the two theme parks, restaurants and shops. One-day passes are available, but the three or five-day passes are recommended for what is sure to be an experience of a lifetime.
Naples Island in Long Beach, located in the middle of Alamitos Bay, was the brainchild of Arthur Parson, who wanted to create a romantic spot that resembled Italy. He dug canals and built cozy cottage homes on the water. There is a park in the center of the island and a small beach encircling most of it. The most charming part of the island is the gondola rides that can be taken through the canals.
Inspired by Tokyo's Imperial Gardens, the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden opened its doors in 1981 and is a part of the California State University. The funds were donated by its namesake's widow whose love for gardens resulted in the building of this place. Dotted with trees like the Japanese black pines, pink cloud cherry, fern pines, saucer magnolias and Chinese flame trees, this serene garden is a sight to behold. A koi pond with a bridge and fish, garden art, pagoda, tea-house, fountains and a zig-zag bridge complete the beautiful landscape. The garden is a much favored spot for weddings.
The Lido Theatre in Newport Beach has been serving movie lovers since 1938. This theater interiors are done up with a tile setting known as Catalina Tile and the cinema is complete with state-of-the-art equipment. It seats 622 out of which 410 seats are downstairs and 212 are in the balcony. The theater's interior features period movie art, from movies like Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, and many other films. The theater also features a waterfall red velvet curtain that rises with each show. The Grand Marquee at the theater is a popular spot used in portfolios or in commercials, and has been a popular site for film and television backdrops.
Newport Landing Whale Watching provides whale watching and dolphin cruises daily. You can view many varieties of whales as they seasonally migrate through the area, including Finback Whales, Grey Whales, Minke Whales, Humpback Whales, and even the giant Blue Whale which can grow to over 90 feet in length. Year round you might even spot dolphins and seals. The primary whale watching ship is 65 feet in length with a large upstairs sundeck, wrap around outside seating, snack bar with food and beverages, indoor seating with large windows. Captains and crew have a background in marine biology and are incredible knowledgeable providing details on marine creatures, environment, and eco-systems. With a 96% success rate of viewing whales and/or dolphin almost every trip has viewing opportunities for these mammals. Perfect as either a fun date or an educational day with the family.
Featuring a scenic sun-dappled expanse, Huntington State Beach is one of the best beaches in southern California. It is popular with both locals and tourists alike. Replete with barbecue pits that are used year-round but especially in the summer, as well as fire rings that can be utilized for bonfires, this is an ideal destination for a fun day out amid picturesque environs. Avid surfers will relish the opportunities for surfing offered by the beach. Fishing, birdwatching, and swimming are some other recreational options here. Keep your eyes peeled for California Brown Pelicans.
The Port Theater was one of the first major attractions for Newport Beach, opened in 1949 before the city's airport and shopping mall overshadowed this cultural institution. Controversy over midnight screenings forced the theater to shut down in the mid-90s, and after fifteen years of stagnation in the midst of property disputes, this Corona del Mar icon has been given a new lease on life as well as a complete face lift. Stylish modern decor retains the original spirit of the theater, the theater's iconic sign once more lit up over Pacific Coast Highway. Following current luxury theater trends, the theater offers gourmet food and beverages which guests can enjoy during the movie such as upscale popcorn, bottled beverages and coffee drinks as well as "Port Dogs", the theater's signature franks. An important part of this picture-perfect beach town's small village charm, The Port Theater is nothing short of an essential institution.