California Dreamin’: Where to Eat, Stay and What to Do

While writing this article, I was curious as to how many songs there were out there about California.

Google’s results gave an impressively long list via Wikipedia. It was in alphabetical order but with multiple sub-divisions and no exact number, clearly there are just too many to count. So I moved onto movies where a list complied by Ranker (the ‘leading digital media company for opinion-based, crowdsourced rankings on just about anything’ according to their website bio) provided a list of at least 800 films before I gave up on scrolling.

Taking into account the famous landmarks, beautiful landscapes and increasing celebrity population, it’s no surprise that California has caught the attention of pop culture and held on to it like it’s no big deal.

The thing is, California is so much more than its celebrity appeal and tourist attractions. There’s a certain comfort in the Californian air that helps ease the jet leg and overlook the travel time spent on a plane. The laid-back vibe of SoCal encapsulates the instant relaxation associated with and required of a holiday while the easygoing nature of its people is infectious from the moment you step off the plane.

San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego or Santa Monica. For some these are the main stops focused on along their Californian adventure. This time we’re taking you 56 kilometres south of the city of Angels to Newport Beach, the SoCal coastal city known for its surfing, the Wedge and it’s yacht filled harbour.


All that hard work catching rays and waves will quickly work up an appetite. Thankfully the locals feel similarly on that topic and plenty of restaurant options have popped up over the last few years.

Alta Coffee

First stop, breakfast. Americans know how to do breakfast right. Think pancake stacks, french toast, crispy bacon and of course, plenty of avocado. Plus you’re in California now, land of the health trends so whether you’re vegan, gluten free, lactose intolerant or all of the above, they’ve got you covered.

Popular with the locals and tourists alike, the comforting, homey feel of Alta Coffee is hard to miss. Locals feel so comfortable that many have brought their own mugs in exchange for 25 cents discount on their coffee. The mugs, ranging in all shapes and sizes, are kept in the coffee shop, proudly displayed on a shelf beside the coffee bar where, after being washed by staff at Alta, they’re reserved for their owner’s next visit.

Most of their delicious dishes are available in half portions which for those of us that aren’t of American heritage, is considered a normal sized portion. Take advantage of this serving option.



Newport beach offers many a spectacular people watching spot and Zinque is definitely one of them.

Upon opening a few years ago, Zinque was one of the only dining options available in the recently revamped Lido Marina Village. Now, a little less high brow that it’s neighbouring restaurant, Nobu, Zinque brings the fun with bistro salads, burgers and quiches plus an up close and personal look at the expensive yachts parked up right outside.

Ruby’s Diner

Ok, so a burger joint/diner may not be top of everyone’s ‘must visit’ restaurant lists when going on holiday but hear me out.

Firstly, Ruby’s is like no other diner and yet, exactly how you imagine the perfect American diner to be. Named after the owner’s mother, Ruby’s once existed as a dilapidated building at the end of Balboa Pier. after roping in a friend, owner Doug Cavanaugh got working on remodelling the building and opening its doors with a simple menu of shakes, hamburgers and hot dogs in 1982.

Decorated with antiques and 1940s SoCal artefacts, the two owners worked together and searched far and wide to create an authentic and nostalgic 1940s themed diner that now has over 35 locations currently open.

In Newport beach enjoy a burger in the Ruby’s original diner while surrounded by Ocean views. California dreamin’ at its finest.



Vacation Rentals with Burr White Realty

Home pricing in Newport beach is jaw-droppingly expensive. Much to the relief of those visiting on holiday, rentals don’t fall into the same price bracket as some of the multi-million dollar beachfront houses.

There are plenty of unique vacation rentals available to accommodate every budget and expectation, most of which are located a mere stone’s throw away from the beach. Burr White Realty not only offers some of the most beautiful vacation rentals in the area but their high level of customer service has helped them to build long-lasting relationships with clients, boosted by the company values of honesty, loyalty and integrity, delivering consistently quality and value to each and every client.

As the leader of vacation rentals on the Balboa peninsula, Burr White has over 200 vacation homes to choose from with prices ranging from $1500 per week to $15,000, as well as some of the finest oceanfront views in Newport beach.


Pelican Hill Resort

If it’s five star treatment you’re after, this five star resort should be firmly marked on your map. The Newport are based resort consists of 204 bungalow guest rooms and suites plus 128 villas spread over 500 acres of land, complete with three different pools and two ocean-view 18-hole golf courses.

Oh and no big deal, but they have their very on coliseum on site. Roman Emperors are replaced by sunbathers and swimmers in one of the largest coliseum poos in the world with over one million hand cut glass tiles lining the bottom.

Life of luxury here you come.


Lido House Hotel

For something a little more low key and closer to the beach, give the newly opened Lido House Hotel a go. Occupying the space that formerly held the City Hall building, the hotel designs take inspiration from the traditional Shingle Style architecture similar to the Hamptons and Cape Cod. With a colour scheme built around pristine whites and deep ocean blues, situated a mere three blocks from the beach and two from the harbour the nautical imagery and ornamental mermaids fit right in.

The design concept remains consistent throughout with every aspect of the hotel from the 135 rooms available to the stunning rooftop bar, emulating everything there is to love about contemporary beach chic.



Crystal Cove

First things first, you’ve got to hit the beaches.

Newport beach is right on your doorstep, as is the long stretch of boardwalks, bike routes and trails in the area.

Venture a mere 15 minutes out of the area to Crystal Cove State Park where you’ll find 2,400 acres of open space to explore walking trails and 3.2 miles of coastline.

Make yourself at home at famous Beachcomber cafe and indulge in one of its mammoth breakfast before putting in a few hours of sunbathing ahead of happy hour, marked by staff with the ringing of a bell and the raising of their martini flag.

End the day on a high and hire a fire pit for an evening of cooking on the beach and smores making.


Duffy Boat

Newport Harbour comes alive with water sports activities come the weekend. Activities range from kayaking to paddle boarding and for those of us with good balance there’s even paddle board yoga. All of the above deserve a space on your holiday to do list but the best by far is taking yourself off in an electrical Duffy boat – pizza and champagne in tow – for a tour of the island.

In any one time there are between 5-7000 privately owned boats in Newport harbour, furthermore it’s a designated recreational harbour meaning that duffy boats are limited to travelling at five knots per hour. The speed may be noticeably gentle but how else would you make the most of some celeb real estate spotting? Keep an eye out for John Wayne’s former home, Nicholas Cage’s modern cement home and Cyndi Lauper’s pretty in pink humble abode.


Fashion Island

Newport has an entire area dedicated to our shopping habits along with various local boutiques scattered along the boardwalk.

Fashion Island offers access to top department stores Bloomingdales and Macy’s along with Antropologie, Nordstrom and up-scale department store, Neiman Marcus where you’ll find luxury brands including Gucci, Fendi, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

Stock up on high street finds in Urban Outfitters and Pink before hitting the rails of Brandy Melville to nail true Californian style.

The outside mall makes shopping more of an experience with fountains, shaded walkways, restaurants and an impressive ornamental pond full of coy carp.


Niamh Crawford-Walker

Niamh is a full time fashion and features writer at The Style Edit. Her work has previously appeared in IMAGE magazine, and Emirates Woman.

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