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Memorial Day Itinerary in Newport Beach

May 19, 2014

Have friends and family visiting during the Memorial Day holiday? There are plenty of exciting events happening around the Newport Beach area, as well as a wealth of other fun things to do. Here’s a lineup of just some of the many activities to check out while your guests are in town.

Satisfy your inner epicurean with creative wine-tasting experiences, seminars, a cooking class, wine-maker dinner, seafood festival and more at the 11th Annual Newport Beach Wine Festival from Friday, May 23, through Sunday, May 25, at Balboa Bay Resort. Or grab your blankets and beach chairs and head to the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort for Movies on the Beach every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, beginning with “Despicable Me 2” on Saturday, May 24.

Planning on hanging around Newport Beach for a little while longer? Enjoy top performers such as saxophonist and singer Mindi Abair, jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra and 10-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Chaka Khan from Friday, May 30, until Sunday, June 1, at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach’s Annual Jazz Festival. And, on Sunday, June 1, plan to have a ball at the 21st annual “Celebrate Balboa Island Day: Star Spangled Islands”  event. The festivities kick off at 11 a.m. with a parade, followed by music and activities. Afterward, stay on Balboa Island and stroll the shady, tree-lined main drag of Marine Avenue filled with numerous shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors and art galleries. Some of my (and my guests’) favorites include CandlEssence, with long-burning, hand-crafted pillar candles in scents like plumeria, lemongrass, lavender, sandalwood and French vanilla; Wilma’s Patio, which has been serving up a yummy menu of everything from the Balboa Belly Bomber (a warm French roll stuffed with egg) to Mexican dishes for more than 15 years; Family T’s for souvenir tees and sweatshirts; and Olive Oil & Beyond, known for its rare and fresh virgin olive oil and ultra-premium basalmic vinegars.

Once you’ve thoroughly explored the Island, make your way to the auto ferry for a ride across the Newport Harbor to the Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Fun Zone area complete with Ferris wheel and the Balboa Village encompassing retail shops; restaurants (don’t miss The Crab Cooker and the original Ruby’s Diner); Balboa and Newport piers; beach; and boardwalks. While there, be sure to take advantage of the plentiful outdoor activities from surf and standup paddleboard lessons to whale watching.

If shopping is more your style, make a beeline straight to Fashion Island and Crystal Cove for upscale shopping and dining options including Bear Flag Fish Company, Mastro’s Ocean Club, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, just to name a few. Right across the street from the Crystal Cove Shopping Center you’ll find Crystal Cove State Park, featuring rustic cottages (even one that was used in the Bette Midler movie “Beaches”); Beachcomber Café (which raises the martini flag daily at 5 p.m.); and three-and-a-half miles of uninterrupted shoreline.

Finally, don’t even forget about leaving Newport Beach without a cruise through the harbor on an electric Duffy boat … with sunset gondola rides available for an extra touch of romance.

 

Written by Wendy Bowman

Wendy Bowman is a San Clemente, Calif.-based freelance journalist. She spent 15-plus years as a writer and editor for Atlanta Business Chronicle, covering nonprofit business, homes and lifestyle, the Atlanta visitors market and more. She currently writes for Modern Luxury magazines including The Atlantan, Men's Book Atlanta, Interiors California, Interiors Atlanta and Brides California, as well as websites such as DIGS.net.

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