Festive Fun Itinerary
Whether you’re here for a day or the entire weekend, this guide is sure to help you hit all the major holiday highlights around the Newport Beach area.
Check into your hotel, unpack and then make a beeline to lovely Balboa Island to check out the Christmas tree and all of the beautifully decorated bayside homes. The annual Holiday Home Tour Dec. 14 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. even offers the chance to peek inside a select few of the community’s distinctively decorated cottages, as well as the new addition to the Balboa Island Museum. Afterward, be sure to visit the shops on Marine Avenue to uncover one-of-a-kind gifts, refreshments and specials, and to enjoy a mouthwatering meal at popular local restaurants including Wilma’s Patio for Mexican and more, and Amelia’s for Italian and seafood dishes. Make a night of it by sticking around the Island (or heading to a number of other festive venues nearby, from eateries such as Muldoon’s and Five Crowns and hotel restaurants including Balboa Bay Club’s Waterline and Pelican Hill’s Andrea Ristorante, to the Balboa Boardwalk on the Balboa Peninsula) to watch 200-plus bedecked yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes (some with animated scenes and music) sail along the harbor in the 106th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade — “Deck the Hulls with Bows of Jolly” — Dec. 17-21, starting and ending at Bay Island from 6:30-9 p.m.
Make your way to Fashion Island, an outdoor shopping Mecca filled with more than 125 shopping selections including a great mix of boutiques, department stores and designer outposts. Satiate all your shopping needs, and then fill up at hot dining spots Red O and Fig & Olive, with top tastes from Mexico and the Mediterranean, or Lemonade, a modern cafeteria serving seasonal SoCal comfort food; visit and snap photos with Santa (through Dec. 24); and experience the mall’s towering tree come to life with Disney holiday music and glittering lights nightly at 5 p.m. through Jan. 4 in the Neiman Marcus-Bloomingdales courtyard. A Community Menorah Lighting also takes place Dec. 16, complete with music and other festivities.
Still up for some fun? Take the Balboa Island Ferry over to Balboa Village and spend time riding the Ferris wheel and playing arcade games with your family at the fun zone. If you’re there on Dec. 6, from 2-6 p.m., make sure to attend Christmas at the Beach, with a tree-lighting ceremony, performance by Southern California Children’s Chorus, photos with Santa, a winter-themed bounce house and animated movie characters.
Still not wiped out from all of the fun? Crystal Cove offers a weekend Holiday Bazaar & Art Sale featuring more than 20 nationally known plein air artists and local artisans with handcrafted jewelry, ceramics, gift items and more. At sunset, the Cove’s scenic beach is illuminated with twinkling lights and decorative ornaments on a majestic evergreen and hot cocoa, apple cider and cookies are doled out at The Beachcomber Café.
Rent an easy-to-navigate electric boat and get ready to cruise scenic Newport Harbor. For extra family fun, play the “Duffy Boat Scavenger Hunt” game on your smart phone and pick out all of the landmarks. There’s also plenty of time to enjoy some of the area’s best whale-watching excursions, and later that night board a yacht to spy the array of harborside homes trimmed to the nines thanks to the annual “Ring of Lights” holiday decorating competition. One of our faves? Hornblower’s Festive Holiday Dinner Cruise with DJ entertainment, boarding glass of champagne and four-course seated meal scheduled for Dec. 3, 5, 10, 26 and 27.
Photo Featured of Crystal Cove’s Holiday Bazaar tree lighting.