Cruise California's Newport Harbor

Ice cream bars and boat tours signal the height of summer along this boardwalk. Here's where to go, shop, and eat
David Lansing

Info: Newport Beach is about 15 miles southwest of Anaheim, at the western end of State 55. 800/942-6278.

It'd be difficult to find a more fitting salute to summer than a day along the water in Newport Beach, California, which celebrates its centennial this year.

Stroll the boardwalk to the ferry and hop aboard for a ride to nearby Balboa Island. Kids squeal on the Ferris wheel and beg their parents to buy them Balboa Bars ― slabs of vanilla ice cream dipped in warm chocolate and rolled in sprinkles and nuts ― while hawkers promote hourly harbor cruises to spot sea lions, grand yachts, and bayside mansions.

Across the way, the ornate 100-year-old Victorian cupola of the Balboa Pavilion, the grande dame of Newport Harbor, towers over the water.

 

DUFFY ELECTRIC BOAT COMPANY

What: Canopy-topped electric boats for up to 12 people; pilot around the harbor and up narrow channels lined with multimillion-dollar homes.
When: Open daily.
How much: $95 per hour.
Where: 2001 W. Coast Hwy. (State 1); 949/645-6812.

CHINA COVE KAYAK ADVENTURES

What: A guided tour of Newport Harbor in brightly colored sit-on-top kayaks, with a stop for a swim at one of Newport's best beaches, Pirates Cove, where Gilligan's Island was filmed.
When: Open daily; reservations required.
How much: From $39.
Where: Meet at the harbor, or arrange to have the tour operator pick you up; 949/632-4694.

DEBRA HUSE GALLERY

What: Paintings of harbor scenes ― the Balboa Pavilion, Crystal Cove, and Catalina Island's Avalon ― by local artists.
When: Open Fri-Mon.
Where: 229 Marine Ave., Balboa Island; 949/723-6171.

 

CHARLIE'S CHILI

What: A popular hangout at the foot of Newport Pier that's perfect for people-watching. True to the name, the chili burgers and chili fries are both great.
When: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
How much: $.
Where: 102 McFadden Place, near Newport Pier; 949/675-7991.

SAM & HARRY'S

What: Classic American steakhouse with thick cuts of meat and jet-fresh seafood in an elegant setting.
When: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
How much: $$$$.
Where: In Marriott Hotel & Spa, 900 Newport Center Dr.; 949/729-6900.