Newport in a Nutshell

long beach airport[trip style = beach, sun & sightseeing]

It was 6.10pm. Landing in California last Thursday, my eyes fought with the sun pouring into the plane's window, and I peered out to what appeared to be a giant lifeguard station. How apropos. Welcome to California I thought. Turns out, the lifeguard station was actually the Long Beach Airport. Only in California do they build airports to look like lifeguard stations. Immediately I relaxed and remembered one of my favourite jingles: I'll be out there having fun, in the warm California sun!

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welcome gift fairmont newportA Chocolate Welcome I love welcome treats, and though they are not a regular occurrence in my hotels rooms, it is nice when they are there. While staying at The Fairmont Newport Beach they kicked it up a notch with a treat laden with a white chocolate surf board perched in faux brown sugar sand. As if the welcoming couldn't be any better, there was an orange tree on my balcony.

Close to it All fairmont newportMost people opt to stay near the beach in Newport (which I've done in the past at the Balboa Bay Beach Club), but I stayed at the Fairmont because of my philosophy that it's good to collect points with one hotel group. I knew the property was in Newport's business district, but I didn't know the hotel was only 10 mins from South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island shopping centers, 12 mins from the Beach and 20 mins from Disneyland. There was even a shuttle if you didn't feel like driving. See my detailed review of the Fairmont Newport Beach here.

Disney The morning after we arrived, we daringly chose to indulge in Disneyland during high season. Normally, I try to avoid high season at all cost, but we were only 20 mins away, so thought we should give it a try. After all, aside from my magical gr. 4 visit with the fam, the last time I was there was gr. 11---only a few years ago!  See Disneyland Tips & Tricks here.

Shop After a 12-hour encounter with the happiest place on earth, we were ready for a day of relaxation. But first, like any sane Canadian visiting the US, we hit the shops at South Coast Plaza. After an almost too successful encounter with the mall, we retreated to the hotel for some R + R. Sunning on our balcony, I got distracted by the still-maturing orange tree. I wanted to pick off a fruit and stick a straw in it for some fresh juice, but refrained because I wasn't sure if the tree was largely decorative or for guests to ponder picking off fruit. I'll never know.

Back to Reality A little bit hungry from not eating that orange, upon the recommendation of my dear friend who lives in LA, we dined at Roy's (Hawaiian fusion cuisine). The staff's constant alohas and soft ukulele background music gave me a triple shot of Hawaiian Isles relaxation. Funnily enough, rather than ordering a mai tai, I savoured a glass of California wine. At that moment, it hit me. Both my wine glass and my cup overfloweth smelling, swirling and tasting the natural beauty of the beachy location and the novelty of an orange tree in a close-to-it-all town. To me, this was Newport in a nutshell.

Recommendations Shopping South Coast Plaza - this giant mall has everything, including discount retailers like Loehmann's and Norstrom Rack. Fashion Island - the people watching is amazing---oh and the shopping is good too. Shopping with a view of the ocean, it doesn't get more OC than this...

Eating Roy's - if you want to channel your inner Aloha eat here. If you want to channel your inner accountant, eat during happy hour Sun-Fri 4.30-6.30pm for $5 drinks and appies. Rose's - we drove by this place on Sunday morning and stopped in our tracks. Our instinct was right, the line-up extending out the door was no mistake, the baked goods and breakfast bagels looked and tasted incredible. For the record, I've never seen a bigger cinnamon bun (probably 20cm in diameter). I was too chicken to eat it---one day when I'm not on a beach vacation.

Do balboa islandBalboa Island- walk or bike around Balboa island and gaze at the unique homes, browse the quaint shops and indulge in their famous salt water taffy and chocolate-covered frozen bananas. I did this once before with my LA friend mentioned above, but apparently it doesn't get old.

[photo credit: all photos my own, except for the night shot of Fairmont, © Fairmont Newport]