Newport Beach, California - something for everyone...Jim's Deals of the Day
Maybe it’s because I grew up out there. But I find it a little strange that Dan Guerrero finds he has to explain where he’s from to people.
Guerrero represents Newport Beach Convention and Tourism Bureau. And it’s not the one in Rhode Island, it’s California. You know, the home of the O.C. TV show from a few years back, not to mention some excellent shopping, hiking, biking, canoeing and miles of Orange County beaches; including the one I always recommend as perhaps the most beautiful beach in all of California; Corona del Mar.
I did my undergrad at UCLA, about 45 minutes up the road in Westwood, and don’t get me started on missing on the NCAA basketball tournament this year. Anyway, my best friend lived in Orange County and we used to make regular treks to Corona for bodysurfing, people watching or just checking out the beautiful bluffs that form the backdrop to Corona Del Mar.
It’s always been a centre for moneyed sorts, with Lido Island’s fashionable homes and an immense yacht harbour. But the O.C. really gave the region a jolt a few years ago, with all that teenage angst pouring out in the hills and beaches and out on Balboa Pier.
Talking over dinner last night at Victor restaurant, a great spot at the superb Le Germain Hotel on Mercer St. in downtown Toronto, Guerrero said the show is now in syndication in the U.K. and Germany, amongst other places, and they’re getting huge hits from Euro fans.
Still, he says a lot of people aren’t aware of his town.
“People talk about San Diego and Laguna Beach and Huntington and Santa Monica, but some folks don’t realize what we have in Newport Beach.”
Fashion Island is as, well, fashionable a shopping centre as you’ll find anywhere in the U.S.. The Orange County Museum of Art is right next door, but Canadians might be surprised at the nature reserve found next door at Newport Bay, where ducks and dozens of other waterfowl next in a quiet, reedy bay and canoers or kayakers can paddle in solitude just minutes from glitzy shops and hotels.
It’s also just two to five minutes from John Wayne-Orange County Airport, where Air Canada will begin direct flights from Toronto next week (April 6).
Toss in the charms of the ferris wheel and the fun zone at Balboa Pier, bodysurfing at The Wedge, great golf courses (Pelican Hill and others), high-end and funky restaurants, a Christmas boat parade and whale-watching tours or trips to nearby Catalina Island and you’ve got yourself a pretty idyllic slice of California.
And, yes, you can still get an interactive or paper map of 19 spots featured on the O.C.; everything from the Seafood Shack to the ferris wheel to the Arches.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY - brought to you by travelalerts.ca
$195 - Toronto to Manchester, UK, cheap round-trip
flight ($605 w/tax): save $400
$399 - Toronto to Venice, Italy, round-trip spring
flight ($713 w/tax)
$782 - Toronto to Honolulu, Hawaii, 1 week vacation
near Waikiki Beach ($923 w/tax)
Honolulu's a great town and Waikiki Beach is a great place to stay, even if you're not right on the actual beach. It's usually only a short stroll away, and it's often $7oo to $800 just for the flight, so this is quite a deal. You can easily get away from the city and check out some gorgeous, jaw-dropping cliffs and mountain scenery, as well as north shore surf spots; all within an hour of the city.