If the air inside one of the area's many malls seems too stuffy for you, head to Newport Pier for a day of shopping and dining right on the water. Whether you are in search of a quick buy for a day out on the beach, or are looking for souvenirs to bring back home, you can find it among the many shops and restaurants in this bustling oceanfront area. Here you can pick up an OC sweatshirt to properly emulate those moody walks by the waves, or get the kids some toy shovels to built expert sand castles. Then stop by one of the many kiosks for a fruit smoothie for the ride home, but before you go make sure to walk out to the end of the pier for some great views of Catalina Island and the surrounding beaches.
Historic Mission San Juan Capistrano is a California icon. Perhaps most famous for visits from its annual guests of honor, the swallows, the Mission means many things to many people. For Californians, it is a powerful symbol of the state's complicated colonial history. For Catholics, it is a profound religious site, indicative of the Church's own complex heritage. History buffs spend hours reveling in the facility's many exhibits and displays, connecting viscerally with the sights, sounds and feelings of generations long past. For visitors of any background, it is an undeniably gorgeous place to spend an afternoon-replete with striking architectural elements and lovingly cared-for gardens.
Irvine Park Railroad is located in beautiful Irvine Regional Park. The one-third scale train takes visitors on a scenic, 12-minute ride through the 477-acre park. Other park attractions include pony rides, the Orange County Zoo, walking trails, horseback riding, snack bars and more. You can rent paddle boats, bikes, and horseshoe and volleyball sets. Annual Irvine Park Railroad events include the Pumpkin Patch, Christmas Train, Easter Eggstravaganza, California History Education Program and Anniversary Celebration. School field trips are available. You can also reserve space for private parties.
Founded in 1932, this is likely the best all-around museum in Orange County. The complex has particularly come into its own since its re-opening in 1992 with expanded and improved exhibition spaces. Created with funds donated by Charles Bowers, the complex was built in the style of the California Missions, and is adorned with murals honoring that motif. Originally intended by Mr. Bowers to focus on local history, the museum has since enlarged its focus to incorporate artifacts from the cultures of Southeast Asia, Oceania, Mexico and Native America.
Once known as the "Tin Can Beach", Bolsa Chica State Beach is now a popular beach which attracts visitors all year-round. It is an ideal place to go sunbathing, play volleyball, have a family day out and try other water sports. Surf fishing of fishes like croaker and corbina are among the other activities you can partake in here. Also, on this three-mile long sandy stretch is a designated place where you can camp in your RV vans. Bolsa Chica is a great spot to sit back and enjoy everything that the beach has to offer.
Pretend City Children's Museum offers you exactly what the name implies, a small "pretend" version of a city! The museum is set up to have everything a normal city would have, with displays like the Library, the City Hall and The Farm. As children go through this interesting museum the kids can interact with the displays and learn through play. Watch as your two year old has fun in the Orange Plaza while your eight year old pretends to be a firefighter at the Fire Station. Your children won't want to leave!
While visiting the city, one must make a stop at the Newport Beach. This destination is a water baby's paradise. Here one can indulge in all things sea; be it cruises, boat parties or seafood. The bay lights up each year during the festive season for the annual Christmas boat parade. Halloween, Thanksgiving and other great American holidays are celebrated with beach cheer here. Plan your visit at the right time of the year and carry all essentials for a fabulous beach party.
Hornblower's Cruises & Events offers Newport passengers a breathtaking waterfront view of Newport. You and your friends and family can enjoy food fit for a king while celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, a business event or a special occasion. You can select the yacht that is perfect for your party. Hornblower can accommodate a party of two or a party of 550 guests. Give a wedding and reception that you, your new spouse and those you love, will remember for a lifetime. The service will surpass everyone's expectations. Choose from a romantic evening or a brunch during the day. You can enjoy the sparkling lights or views along the Newport Beach.
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.
Take a boat tour of Newport Harbor and make your trip to Orange County complete. You can take a variety of tours inside the harbor or venture out into the ocean where you'll be shown playful sea lions, and depending upon the season, whales (January through March). It's a great way to fill your lungs with some salty sea air and learn why so many Southern Californians have decided to call Newport Beach home.
Balboa Island Ferry has been running between Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula since 1919. The quarter-mile ride across Newport Harbor takes about five minutes and saves passengers up to a half-hour drive around the harbor and bridge. Aside from convenience, the ferry also provides a kind of affordable luxury to those who otherwise wouldn't have a chance to be in the most picturesque scene of Newport Beach and cruises on luxury yachts and sail boats. The vintage ferryboats, double-ended wooden boats built in the 1950s, also add unexpected uniqueness to the experience. The service runs every five minutes and each boat takes up to three vehicles and 75 passengers.