Newport Beach: A Perfect Day Trip Outside of L.A.

Whether you’re a tourist or SoCal local looking for a relaxing afternoon outside of Los Angeles, Newport Beach will offer you a little slice of paradise for the day. Similar to Groupon and Amazon Local, Livingsocial was offering a $15 deal for a two and a half hour whale watching cruise with Newport Landing. My friends and I were going on a weekend which meant this boat ride, including an alcoholic beverage, would normally cost about $40. Was this $15 deal too good to be true?! We headed on down for the day to find out… and what a beautiful spring day it was!


Newport Beach is located in Orange County where you’ll find no shortage of beautiful beaches and mansions.












I’ll be honest, the idea of spending almost three hours on a boat has never been very exciting to me. However, the price was right, the sun was out, and I was armed with plenty of motion sickness medication. I was ready to take on the world or at least Newport Beach. Also, the hope of seeing a few whales was exciting too. But more on that later.


This was our Newport Landing Whale Watching boat for the afternoon! It could comfortably hold about 75 people.












Our boat for the day was a comfortable size with plenty of seating and standing room inside and out. I’d recommend getting there a bit early to line up if you prefer seats outside on the top deck. Our boat departed right on time and before we knew it, the Newport mansions along the coast started getting smaller and the search for whales had begun. About 40 minutes in, our captain was instructing us to look over on the right side of the boat since we had spotted a pod, or a group of whales for those less educated (like I was). I would love to present you with my wonderful photographs of tail slapping and whale spouts, however, I just couldn’t get my act together in time. The waters were a bit rough at this point and I needed to concentrate on holding on for dear life. Maybe I’m being a bit too dramatic. I promise you, we had a whale of a time. Sorry, I had to.


Here is my only decent photograph I managed to capture of a whale!


It was easier to snap a photo of a dolphin! In reality, there were about 30 following us even though this photo only shows two.






















To be honest, I enjoyed my time a lot more by just being in the moment, oooing and aaahhing with everyone on board, without having to worry about snapping the perfect photo. While this was a whale watching adventure, we also saw plenty of dolphins and sea lions. At one point, there had to have been at least 30 dolphins swimming along side the boat. I’ve never been to Sea World and have no plans to go in the future so this was pretty damn exciting for me. My final verdict? $15 well spent… and the afternoon wasn’t even over!


It was a beautiful day to go out on a boat in Newport Beach.












If you’re eager to explore one of Newport’s hidden gems, hop on the teeny tiny ferry on Balboa Peninsula and you’ll find yourself on Balboa Island in about 5 minutes. This man-made island can only be described as a cozy, idyllic beach village. You’ll immediately feel the classic ‘Cali’ laid back atmosphere while exploring the island.


This is Balboa Island’s small ferry that departs about every 10 minutes and only costs $1 each way if you’re just walking on!












After stepping off the ferry, I was immediately drawn to an adorable fruit cart promising chocolate dipped strawberries. I almost gave in but one of my friends told me about a famous frozen banana and ice cream place nearby. Say no more. While on the hunt for chocolate dipped desserts, we took our time wandering through the picture perfect streets of Balboa Island. Some houses along the water had their small boats docked next to their personal beach space. Talk about the perfect front yard!


This fruit stand in Balboa Island was very colorful… and tempting!


Balboa Island would be an ideal place to rent a vacation house, especially if your front yard could look like this!

































We discovered two rival banana stands, Dad’s and Sugar ’N’ Spice, which claimed to be The Original Frozen Banana Stand. While Dad’s seemed to have a wonderful selection of ice cream, I headed over to Sugar ’N’ Spice to try one of their chocolate dipped creations. I think I finally know what true love is after taking a bite of a frozen cheesecake on a stick, dipped in chocolate and covered in oreos. Excessive? Yes. Worth it? Yesssssss. My immediate reaction was to share it on Instagram (typical) but I forgot to take one with my good camera so this iPhone picture will just have to do.

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I’d HIGHLY recommend ordering frozen cheesecake on a stick from Sugar ‘N’ Spice on Balboa Island!

I could easily spend an entire weekend in Newport Beach, especially Balboa Island. We bumped into a few tourists visiting from Colorado who were very pleased that they decided to get out of LA for the day to explore more along the coast. If you are a first time visitor to Southern California, it is easy to get caught up in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Disneyland, and Universal Studios. While each of those places are beautiful (in their own special way) and entertaining, I think you’ll discover the true beauty of California in our beach cities.


I really can’t imagine a more relaxing place to escape to for the day than Balboa Island in Newport Beach. I’m sure that paddle boarder agrees too!












Have you ever been to Newport Beach before? What is your ideal day trip? I’d love to know! Also, last week, I wrote an article for AttractionTix on exploring the shiny streets of Beverly Hills. Feel free to read that here! Happy travels! Picture 3



  1. Mary {The World Is A Book} says:

    Love Newport Beach! It’s gotten more touristy over the years but still such a fun place to go. We always feel so poor driving past those multi-million dollar beach houses 🙂 I always see that whale-watching deal and I think I need to buy it next time. Even just as an incentive to go up and eat that frozen cheesecake on a stick. Yum! I’m glad you had a wonderful time.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted…Exploring the Underground World of Boyden CavernMy Profile

  2. Kemkem says:

    I always regretted not making it to Balboa Island all those years l lived in L.A. Mary is right about feeling so poor when you go past all the mansions. I would have had the chocolate dipped berries as well as the cheesecake on a stick. I wouldn’t have finished it though. I am the world’s slowest ice cream eater..really slow. I usually end up throwing it away or have my hubby finish it. problem, but anything ice creamy, l lose interest after like 1 minute…lol the kind that eats the chocolate coating and throws the rest away. Sounds like you had a good time, save for the queasiness.
    Kemkem recently posted…Amsterdam, Why I think it’s just..okayMy Profile

  3. Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans says:

    Every season I tell myself that I’m going to buy one of those whale-watching Groupons, but I just never do it. Like you, I’m prone to seasickness although I think I’d suffer through it to see the whales. Your post has given me some much needed motivation to make it happen next season! Lol! 🙂
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted…Coastal Charm in CarpinteriaMy Profile

    • Lauren Meshkin says:

      Definitely buy it! I know there are a few in other locations like Long Beach or Marina Del Rey but Newport Beach is just too pretty to pass up. You can make a day out of it! The medicine totally helped which was such a relief. I was just a little afraid when it got rough but it really wasn’t that bad. I hope you try it out, Dana!
      Lauren Meshkin recently posted…Newport Beach: A Perfect Day Trip Outside of L.A.My Profile

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