Experience Orange County with a relaxing vacation rental in Newport Beach. Family-friendly activities both outdoors and indoors make this Californian city a great place to visit any time of year. Enjoy surfing, paddleboarding, soaking up the sun, and playing in the sand at Newport Beach or spend a day learning about art and science in a kid-friendly museum like Discovery Cube’s Ocean Quest. Here are 12 of our favorite things to do on a vacation to Newport Beach.

1. Experience the Coast at Crystal Cove State Park

The beachside nature park of Crystal Cove is known as a great spot for hiking. Over three miles of beach and 2,400 acres of protected land make this park a must-see for nature lovers. Take the kids for a walk to check out the tidal pools along the shore, which is home to marine life like starfish, anemones, and fish.

2. Go for a Ride at Balboa Fun Zone

With a Ferris wheel dating back to 1936, Balboa Fun Zone is a seaside amusement park with a classic, vintage boardwalk feel. Take a seat on one of the high rides to enjoy great views of the ocean, especially at sunset. Treat yourself to popcorn and cotton candy, or try your hand at a game in the arcade.

3. Relax at Corona Del Mar State Beach

A clean stretch of beach that’s a full half a mile wide, Corona Del Mar State Beach offers plenty of space to lay down a blanket, and spend a carefree day in the sun. Dig a tunnel, build a sandcastle with your little ones, or head down to the water to enjoy the mild temperatures and shallow, calm surf.

4. Try Out Surfing at Huntington Beach Pier

Just five miles away from Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Pier is a well-loved hotspot for surfing at all levels of expertise. Rent a board or bring your own and catch some waves. Beginners and kids can have fun splashing in the shallow, mild waters.

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5. Get Cultured at the Orange County Museum of Art

Head inland from the beach to spend an afternoon at the Orange County Museum of Art. Boasting over 3,000 individual artworks and artifacts, this museum’s collection focuses on artworks dating back to the early 20th century and up to the present day. Come on the weekend to join a public tour, and get the inside scoop on the current exhibition. You can also explore the museum at your own pace and find a piece that really speaks to you.

6. Foster a Love for the Ocean at Discovery Cube’s Ocean Quest

Located on the Balboa Peninsula of Newport Beach, Discovery Cube’s Ocean Quest is a unique, kid-friendly museum and learning center that’s right up close to the water. Let your kids explore the science of oceans and marine life with hands-on experiences, including whale-watching tours and a touch tank full of friendly ocean creatures, such as starfish and anemones. Vacation rentals in Newport Beach offer simple access to the Ocean Quest center as well as the beach, so your kids can make a critical connection between science and the great outdoors.

7. Rent an Electric Bike

Available from locations in Corona Del Mar State Beach, Newport Peninsula, and other hotspots, Pedego bikes are shared electric bikes designed for visitors to better explore the local area. Take the easy road and relax while the bike does the heavy pedaling for you. Book a public tour to make sure you see all the sights and get to know the terrain of Newport.

8. Tour the Local Waters on a Day Cruise

Why stay on land when you can spend an entire day out on the waters of the California coast? Book a cruise on a local line such as Hornblower to experience the waters around Newport Beach firsthand. Summer sunset cruises offer pristine views of the setting sun and twilight. Year-round special event cruises are a unique way to experience California culture, while brunch and dinner cruises kick your dining experience up a notch.

9. Spot Whales on a Newport Coastal Adventure

Head out from your coastal vacation rental and hop on a Zodiac boat tour. These tours bring visitors out onto the water to get up close and personal with pods of whales. Newport Coastal Adventure tours take only six visitors at a time, so be sure to book ahead to ensure there’s space for your whole family. Enjoy a tour narrated by an experienced guide as you scan the seas for dolphins, whales, seals, and sea lions.

10. Get Your Sea Legs With a Pirate Coast Paddleboard Lesson

Stand-up paddleboard adventures await you at Newport Beach. Pirate Coast Paddleboarding Adventures is one company that offers lessons and workshops for all skill levels. Classes are conducted in calm, swim-safe waters so you and your kids can get a feel for the sport without fear. Bring along the whole family and learn the ins and outs of this playful mode of water transportation.

11. Take in Nature’s Beauty at the Wedge

The Wedge is a spot along the shores of Newport Beach known for having some of the biggest wave swells on the California coast. Stay on the beach and break out your camera as you watch these gigantic waves grow and crash against the rocks. While the area is closed for surfing during the busiest summer months, arrive during the off season to watch professional surfers body-surf along the crest.

12. Get Back to Nature at Upper Newport Bay

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve is a stretch of land totaling nearly 1,000 acres and home to hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife. Take advantage of the hiking trails that cross Upper Newport to get a feel for the wildlife and wilderness of this area of California. Bring along binoculars and a camera, and let kids get a glimpse of some incredible wildlife.

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