Newport Beach Summer Bucket List
Credit: Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort - Camp

The Ultimate Newport Beach Summer Bucket List

Here’s Why This Beach Town Is the Best Summer Destination

Eating a frozen banana after an ocean swim, taking in views from the top of a Ferris wheel and slurping down a milkshake at Crystal Cove Shake Shack—all of this can only mean one thing: we’re spending summer in Newport Beach. With eight miles of pristine coastline and one of the largest recreational harbors on the West Coast, Newport Beach is an ideal sunshine destination. There’s a reason why this beach town is iconic, and we’re letting you in on all the local summertime traditions. Check out our summer bucket list for Newport Beach, featuring 14 of our favorite pastimes in this charming coastal community.

 

Grab a Sandwich From Gallo’s Italian Deli

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Credit: Timothy Kwon

It’s not officially summer until you’ve had a sandwich from Gallo’s Italian Deli in Corona del Mar. Whether you’re picking up sammies for the beach or you and your crew just finished with a morning surf, Gallo’s is a necessary stop. What started as a simple deli counter and picnic table in 1973, Gallo’s took its iconic blue awning to a whole new level a few years ago with some maintenance to the building. The owners, however, held true to its history, keeping around long-loved staff and old-time menu favorites. Order the famous Turbacado, made with turkey, bacon, avocado and your choice of condiments. Every sandwich is served on a chewy French roll. Pair your sammie with a bag of salt-and-vinegar chips for a classic breezy beach lunch. Come find out why this family-owned business has been in the community for over 50 years.

 

Rent a Vision Electric Boat Rental

Newport Beach Summer Bucket List
Credit: Ed Visions

If you don’t have a boat (or you don’t have friends who have a boat), don’t fret. You can still spend time on the water thanks to Vision Electric Boat Rental in Lido Marina Village. Renting one of these vessels is a seamless experience, and you don’t need a boat license to drive one! They go about 6 mph and manage similarly to a golf cart. Cruise the bay with a charcuterie board and Aperol spritz for a quintessential Newport Beach summer activity, and don’t forget a film camera! We love renting a boat when the family is in town—just to show them exactly why our rent is so expensive (and why it’s totally worth it).

 

Ride the Ferris Wheel at the Balboa Fun Zone + Grab Drinks at Class of ’47

Credit: Nandaro / Wikimedia

Embrace your inner child and add the Balboa Fun Zone to your Newport Beach summer bucket list. With a rousing history that began in 1892, the land that hosts the Fun Zone has always been true to its purpose—first as pleasure rides on a paddlewheel steamer, later as pleasure sailboats in the bay, and now as an entire area devoted to family fun. You’ll find everything from a merry-go-round to a full arcade here. The Ferris wheel promises stunning views of the water—we recommend going at sunset to soak in that golden hour vibe. After you’ve lived your “Notebook” moment, grab a couple of cold beers at everyone’s favorite dive bar, Class of ‘47, where you can throw some tunes on the jukebox and shoot some pool.

6/9

 

Grab a Frozen Banana or Balboa Bar from Dad’s Donut Shop & Bakery

Credit: Niki Cram

Walk around the ever-so-charming Balboa Island before stopping for an iconic Newport Beach treat. As far back as the 1940s, you could sidle up to a stand for a frozen banana. A decade or so later, Balboa Bars—those iconic vanilla ice cream squares dunked in chocolate and covered in tasty toppings—came on the scene. Who holds the title for being the first on the island remains a friendly competition, but we guarantee that the bars from Dad’s Donut Shop & Bakery will not disappoint. Choose which toppings you prefer—sprinkles, Oreos, butter brittle, you know the drill—and enjoy this sweet treat in the sunshine. Oh, and be sure to pick up a few of their famous frosted hippo cookies to go!

6/5

 

Watch the Bodysurfers at The Wedge 

Credit: Philip Graves

There’s nothing like watching surfers and bodysurfers catch waves at The Wedge. Thanks to its unique geography—a jetty that creates a wedge-shaped section where waves converge and can reach heights of up to 30 ft—The Wedge has been fiercely protected by locals for decades. This is a high-risk, high-reward situation for advanced surfers and bodysurfers, and should you earn a wave or two, you’ll leave with a badge of honor. We recommend you leave the shorebreak to the experts and simply get your adrenaline rush as a spectator. Grab a latte from a nearby coffee shop, bring a towel, and stick your toes in the sand as you watch these saltwater savants shred away.

6/17

 

Indulge in an Original Roadside Burger from Irv’s Burgers

Over 70 years in the making, Irv’s Burgers has been serving up “roadside realness” in burger form to hungry locals and celebrities alike. Established in 1946 as a historic staple of Route 66, Irv’s Burgers expanded to other locations in La Brea, West Hollywood, Malibu, and even Las Vegas. It was only a matter of time before everybody’s favorite burger joint made its way to Newport Beach. You can now enjoy Irv’s original roadside double burger, chili cheese dog, fries and ice cream at the Balboa Fun Zone on a warm summer night in Newport Beach. 

6/12

 

Explore the Tide Pools at Little Corona del Mar Beach

If you’re eager for a beach day with the kiddos, visit the tide pools at Little Corona del Mar Beach. To get there, you’ll go down the big hill at the end of Poppy Avenue, which leads to the beach. Remember to respect the beauty of nature here, and don’t remove or touch anything in the tide pools. Though small in size, this beach boasts rocky reefs on both sides and attracts local divers for its spectacular diving opportunities. The well-protected waters here make it ideal for beach diving, especially for families seeking an environment where children will be safe from strong waves and currents.

5/26

 

Milkshakes + Sunset Views at Crystal Cove Shake Shack

Last but certainly not least, our Newport Beach summer bucket list ends with sunset milkshakes at Crystal Cove Shake Shack. Iconic for a reason, this original shack boasts stunning views of the ocean and the Crystal Cove Historic District. Affordable prices for burgers, fries and shakes pair perfectly with an ocean breeze, making this stop a 10/10 in our book. Roll up on PCH and prepare to wait in your car for this classic Newport Beach activity. Pro tip: they have a full breakfast menu—think breakfast burritos and pancakes—if you want to beat the crowds before 11 a.m.! 

 

Golf at Pelican Hill Golf Club

Photography Provided By: Visit Newport Beach/Seth Willingham (WaterProject)

This summer bucket list just keeps getting better and better. If rolling green vistas are what get you up in the morning, then thoughts of the world-class Pelican Hill Golf Club will serve as your vacation alarm clock. Known for its natural design, this Newport Beach golf course features 36 holes that weave across stunning terrain with pristine ocean views in the distance. It’s no surprise that both the North and South courses are ranked among the best golf courses in California. Resort guests can schedule tee times when booking their stay, and the general public can make reservations fourteen days in advance.

 

Camp at Newport Dunes

Newport Beach Summer Bucket List
Credit: Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort – Camp

Pack a bag and enjoy a camping getaway at Newport Dunes—a waterfront resort that sits on the edge of the Back Bay. There are beachfront campsites, over 300 RV campsites and even 27 beach cottage rentals. Rent paddle boards, kayaks, pedal boats or electric boats to spend some time on the water or simply soak in the sun by the pool (there’s even a lifeguard on duty). This is the perfect place to rent a beach cabana for quality family time. And when the crew gets hungry (or the adults get thirsty), head to Moe B’s Munchies for a full selection of snacks and beverages.

 

Visit the Corona del Mar Certified Farmers Market

Credit: Iñigo De la Maza on Unsplash

The quaint Corona del Mar Certified Farmers Market happens every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the intersection of Marguerite and PCH. Shop local and organic and stock up on groceries for the week. For 22 years, the market has provided the local community with everything from produce and veggies to meat and seafood. Don’t leave without picking up fresh flowers to enjoy now and tamales to taste later. With your full tote in hand, take a stroll to the end of Marguerite for some glistening ocean views. 

 

Dinner Date at A Restaurant

It’s date night, and we’re headed to the sophisticated and timeless A Restaurant in Newport Beach. What started as a basic roadside diner in 1925 is now a cozy and upscale restaurant perfect for a classic steak and martini dinner. Other menu highlights include Mary’s Organic Chicken Piccata—a Tuesday mainstay—and fried Spanish octopus and the hearts of palm salad. If you can’t snag a reservation, consider taking a drive to dine at one of their sister restaurants: A Crystal Cove or CdM Restaurant.  

 

Rent a Crystal Cove Beach Cottage

Consider yourself warned: it’s tough to get a reservation for a Crystal Cove Beach Cottage, but totally worth the effort. The reservation system even has a tips and tricks guide for making a reservation. Book a stay at one of these cottages for a historic beachfront living experience—and note that certain reservations are on a 30-day rolling calendar. The cottages range from $50 to $320 per night, each offering a cozy stay on the sand. Most of them were built in 1926 and have been meticulously preserved to maintain their historical charm. You’ll fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing and wake up just in time to walk over to The Beachcomber for bloody marys and beignets. 

 

Boutiques at Lido Marina Village

Credit: Lido Marina Village

It’s not summer without a little shopping. Whether you’re on the hunt for a new bikini, home decor or a gift for a friend, Lido Marina Village is your one-stop shop. With a casual village ambience and boats bobbing within view of all the shops, you’ll get to experience the coveted coastal lifestyle of Newport Beach here. Stylish shops are peppered alongside al fresco waterfront restaurants, and there’s a taste for everyone—from craft beer and artisan pies to fresh seafood and renowned Japanese fare. Our favorite shops include Shoppe Amber Interiors for home decor, LSPACE for quintessential California beach style and The RealReal for luxury consignment. End your mini shopping spree with a glass of wine, fresh seafood and bay views at Circle Hook.

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Taylor is a graduate from the University of Southern California with a degree in journalism. She is our Los Angeles and Orange County editor. You can find her dining at a new restaurant, in the ocean or planning her next adventure. Say hello!

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