Day trip: Upper Newport Bay

Stop and smell the wildflowers in Newport's hidden outdoor oasis

Pick a trail:The 10-mile Back Bay Loop circles the bay. You can jump on any­where, but we recommend starting at the Vista Point lookout for the best views.

Walk along the bluffs; when you reach the southeast side of the bay at Big Canyon, detour off the main path and cross the footbridge. You’ll hit a shaded nature trail alongside a stream that’s known as a hot spot for bird-watching. Bring your binocs. Look for street parking near Eastbluff Dr. at Back Bay Dr.; 949/923-2290.

Brunch with a view: The Back Bay Bistro at Newport Dunes resort is a 3-mile walk from Vista Point, or a short kayak trip across the bay (you can also drive).

With 15-foot-high glass windows and a retractable roof, the waterfront patio is a sweet spot for Bloody Marys, omelets, and killer views. Brunch Sat–Sun; $$$; 1131 Back Bay Dr.; 949/729-1144.

Get your bearings: The Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center blends so well into the bluffs, you might miss it from the street. The flat roof doubles as an observation deck; inside, you can grab a free map of the Back Bay.

Right now, the center’s Boand Butterfly Garden is blooming with flowers like blue-eyed grass, Parry’s phacelia, and yarrow. Free; 2301 University Dr.; 949/923-2290.

Make it a weekend: Book a cute cottage at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and Marina along Pacific Coast Highway. The resort is primarily for RVs, but there are also two dozen studio or one-bedroom cottages with kitchenettes and bathrooms.

When you’re not lolling on the front porch, take a dip in the pool or rent a beach cruiser bike ($10 per hour, $15 half-day) or kayak (from $20 per hour), and take off to explore the shore. From $69; 800/765-7661.

Next: More wildflower destinations



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