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A Guide to Relaxing Scenic Driving Routes in Newport Beach, CA

April 11, 2014

Nothing clears the mind and refuels our sense of adventure like hitting the open road, even if it is just for a Sunday afternoon. In this post, we will highlight a few favorite stretches of road in the beautiful Newport Beach area complete with roadside diversions for food, history, nature and general amusement.

You will find that Newport Beach is a perfect locale to visit all year long. There are plenty of activities nearby to tempt the adventurer in you. Enjoy exciting sporting and cultural events, upscale shopping and restaurants, and gorgeous sites to watch the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.

You can come here for a brief getaway on an afternoon or midweek evening. Or you may decide to come and stay a while longer. If you are staying overnight, once you have settled in, cruise by boat or land up to watch the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race (April 25), or attend part or all of the Newport Beach Film Festival (April 24- May 1). Take your time cruising around Newport Beach as it is loaded with fun things to do for couples, families or even the solo traveler. You can enjoy miles of hiking, cycling, surfing or sailing.

For the nature lover, there are plenty of natural parks and preserves in Orange County. This place takes conservation of its environment to heart. On a short road trip from Newport Beach there is a panorama of natural sightseeing from the windows of your own vehicle.

See Several Parks Close by

  1. Crystal Cove State Park

The most direct way to get to Crystal Cove State Park is to drive south on California’s Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1. Enjoy the spectacular views of the ocean and wildlife on your way to this unique State Park. Crystal Cove is home to 3.2 miles of beach and 2,400 acres of undeveloped woodland, popular for horseback riding and hiking alike.

The waters offshore are a designated underwater park, popular with swimmers and surfers. You can even park and stay in the Crystal Cove State Park Moro Campground if you like. Make reservations with Reserve America well ahead of time to ensure a space.

Crystal Cove offers many unique opportunities in the arts and sets an example of preserving the environment and culture of this gorgeous area. The artist in you may want to take part in the 3-day Artist’s workshop with John Burton who will conduct this painting extravaganza, en plein air (outdoors) at Crystal Cove State Park. From April 30th to May 2nd, you can delight in incomparable sights to inspire your painting of some of the exquisite beauty found on the Southern California coast.

  1. Upper Newport Bay and Back Bay

Believe it or not, right in the middle of the city of Newport Beach, you can stay overnight on land or in a marina, right on the ocean while you take in the sights found in and around Newport Beach. The Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina is located at the entrance to the Back Bay Science Center and the Newport Bay Conservancy, and is an ideal place to call home while you take short trips from here to see the surrounding area.

Take a short, scenic drive inland north and east a few miles to the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. In Upper Newport Bay, take advantage of this uniquely picturesque setting that features several outdoor activities. You can enjoy bird watching, jogging, biking, hiking and kayaking. Upper Newport Bay was purchased by the state in 1975 for its Fish and Wildlife Department’s Ecological Reserve System and further expanded to more than 85 acres in 1985. Make sure you take in the natural beauty of the white cliffs at this expansive nature preserve. To understand this unique environment, visit the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center while you are there.

  1. Buck Gully

Orange County features numerous canyons and spectacular views of the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. As you drive around, you will get a good view of Bommer and Shady Canyons from the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Toll way, Route 73. Then, for another natural getaway, get off at Newport Coast Drive to visit the Buck Gully Nature Reserve.

Buck Gully is a hidden nature preserve and park located in the valley between the San Joaquin Hills and the Newport coast. For a real get-away-from-it-all, this park features a wonderfully remote single-track road with only a few bridge crossings for a nice afternoon hike or off-road bike ride.

Other Sights to See, Play and Taste

Follow your natural excursion with a private guided tour through the Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery, where you can taste some of California’s own vintage wines. Make reservations first as this winery is not open to the public without them.

If you fancy a round of golf, set up your tee time at one of the nearby courses; Newport Beach Golf Club, Pelican Hill Golf Club or the course at Hyatt Regency Newport Beach.

After you have worked up a good appetite, freshen up for a delightful dinner at the lavish Mastro’s Ocean Club, at the Crystal Cove Promenade, just outside of Crystal Cove State Park.

Whether you came to Newport Beach for a mid-week afternoon break, an evening getaway or a three or four-day weekend, you are certain to remember your experience in Newport Beach for many years to come. Return often!

Written By: Joe Laing

Written by Visit Newport Beach

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