A Day Exploring the Back Bay
Not many places can boast the largest ecological reserve in Southern California nestled in their backyard and situated only minutes from the beach – but it’s a good thing we can. Where seawater meets freshwater is a peaceful nature enclave teeming with life keen to be explored and endangered species waiting to be discovered (or instagrammed). With so much to do along the 1,000 acres of coastal wetlands, we’ve planned some options for an adventurous day in the bustling Back Bay.
With an active time ahead of you, why not start it off with the typical OC health meal that’s sure to supercharge your morning (aka a juice and acai bowl from Bowl of Heaven). Grab it to go on your way towards the bay or have an easy start to your morning and grab some affordable breakfast burritos and lox bagels from Bayview Cafe (just make sure to arrive before 11 a.m. as that’s when they stop serving breakfast).
Paddleboarding, which is much easier than it looks, is a fun activity for nearly everyone (even those with the most chronic case of clumsiness) and can be done as an intensive workout or a languid paddle. It should be experienced at least once during your stay in Newport Beach, and when you find yourself along the bay, rent paddles from Pirate Coast Paddle Company right along the water’s edge. The store offers kayaks as well for those who feel more comfortable sitting, and you can sign up for lessons, brave it solo on a 5.8 mile trek, or switch this easy morning paddle into a glow night tour (a cool new way to get familiar with the harbor via boards that light up the water)!
After your time on the bay, take to the land where the 10.5-mile paved back bay loop takes you all the way along the marshes and water that’s the perfect opportunity for bird watching (200 different species make this a top area in the country for bird spotting). Especially in the spring and summer, it’s not uncommon to find migratory birds that fly in all the way from South America! You can walk for as long or as short as you’d like, though the 3.2-mile path is a fan favorite by hikers, bikers, and rollerbladers alike. The paths are mostly flat, albeit occasionally hilly, but they’re marked as “easy” so why not take the time on your stroll to visit the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center with its panoramic views of the bay, the Back Bay Science Center, and other multiple scenic spots that are the perfect place for a photo-op.
The sun’s now shining in the center of the sky, a tell-tale sign of mid-day…
And while walking and sightseeing definitely work up an appetite, some American classic with a twist from hotdogs and sausages, burgers and chicken enriched by proprietary toppings The Stand never sounded so good. It’s casual, as quick as you’d like it to be and will be sure to fill up that appetite.
After some refreshing contemporary cuisine it’s time for the next adventure…
It’s no secret the Back Bay harbors wildlife like coyotes and bobcats, but don’t be surprised if you also pass a horse on your stroll along one of the two horse-friendly trails. Although there aren’t any horse stables directly on the Back Bay, the neighboring residential areas have stables that regularly take riders out for trail rides such as Blue Ribbon Saddle Club. Have a romantic ride with a partner, or explore your own individual interests in a privately guided trail ride – the reigns are in your hand.
As the sun starts to descend and your muscles are calling for some pre-dinner R&R…
It’s the perfect time for some upscale winery shenanigans. Touring Newport’s only vineyard, Newport Beach Vineyards & Winery, makes for a unique experience – even for locals. Reservations are necessary to enter the privately-owned grounds, but once you’re in, explore the underground wine cave, tropical and botanical gardens, koi ponds, and the bird aviary (just in case you didn’t see enough in your nature walk). The 3.5-acre stretch of grape lands provides the ideal romantic setting to unwind after a long day of activity, and with a glass of rosé in hand you just might feel the pull of the water again.
With the stars to navigate by…
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to rent a duffy boat, a quintessential Newport way to cruise through the harbor. You may have explored the area in the bright sunny day of summer, but it’s a whole new experience by candlelight, er, moonlight. Waves lazily lap at the sides of the boat as you glide along seemingly untouched water while lights in the distance remind you of civilization waiting just out of reach.
With the moon in the sky, and a long day behind you, you’ll want to squeeze in one last nourishing meal….so long as you don’t have to drive.
Arguably the finest foodie perk of living in Newport is the ability to dock and dine. Pulling up to dine in style never felt so good as you dock your duffy in an open slip outside Back Bay Bistro. You don’t even have to forfeit the views of the water as you reward your body with fresh organic farm-to-table dishes and look out over the deep-blue harbor and lush estuary. One of the best parts? The Bistro has a retractable roof so the fresh cool air of the evening never has to leave you.
Constantly encompassing you with breathtaking vistas, the Back Bay provides a much-needed haven and rejuvenating escape for those looking to step away from city life and get in touch with nature through numerous aquatic activities, bayside eateries, and soothing cruises along its waters. When you’re looking for a way to explore the wild beauty of Newport without having to dive into waves, there’s just no other place to spend your day than at the Back Bay!