Travel Tips: Newport Beach, CA

At the beginning of April we escaped for a week - just the three of us - it was perfect. What was intended to be a baby moon to NYC, turned into a family trip to Newport Beach. Blame my pregnancy hormones, coupled with the need for sunny skies and fish tacos, but our last minute trip change proved a success.

A little back story - Brett and I met at a wedding in Texas, but we fell in love in Orange County. At the time we met, Brett was living on Balboa Peninsula. If you've been there, you're wondering why in the heck we ever ended up in Texas - that's another post altogether. All this to say, this city holds so much of my heart, first kiss, first "I love you" - now our first family trip. With a small business and a young family, it's not easy for us to get away. I'm sure many of you are in the same boat for various reasons, but this is a spot worth considering. Here are a few valuable tips when you decide to book your own trip to Orange County.

If you can swing it, rent a house on the sand. If you like the people interaction, look for a house on the boardwalk. We wanted access to the boardwalk for morning and evening strolls, but with an active toddler in tow, we preferred the idea of not crossing the boardwalk to get to the sand. Look for homes on Shoreline Dr. 36th street + to avoid the chaos of the piers.

We love the beach, but you won't find us lying on the sand catching rays all day long. Our ideal beach times are in the mornings and evenings. Throughout the day you will find us post up under an umbrella, people watching or exploring Newport Peninsula. One of my favorite non-beach activities is cruising around Fashion Island. If you are with a youngster, there are numerous water fountains, a koi pond, live music and even a pet shop to keep them busy while you get your shopping on!

Taking the ferry to Balboa Island is another great way to escape the beach for an afternoon. I highly suggest purchasing salt water taffy from Balboa Candy to munch on while strolling the streets and gawking at the beautiful homes.  If you want a bit more activity: rent an electric boat for an afternoon, try the stand up paddle on the bay or even rent a beach cruiser and hit the boardwalk. (We were stoked to have walked our toddler to sleep and reap the benefits of an impromptu date night.)

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Since we rented a house within walking distance to a grocery store, It was easy to prep quick lunches. Breakfast and dinner were reserved for chowing on some of our old and new favorites. Here are the places you've got to try when visiting Orange County.

Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee - It took us 3 trips to decide on our favorites: butter and salt, huckleberry and green eggs and ham. It's possible we've ruined our toddler by introducing him to such a refined doughnuts at a young age.

Bear Flag Fish Co - You've seen us post about Bear Flag before, hands down, the best spot for an ahi burrito or panko crusted fish tacos.

Ho Sum Bistro - Californiental Cuisine. I order the combo salad every time - it's the perfect dinner after a long day playing in the sand.

Without a doubt, this will be a yearly trip! The pace was slow, the food was excellent and the weather was perfect. I couldn't ask for a better family trip before we add a new babe to the family! Is there anything we missed that we should keep in mind for next year?