Famous worldwide for its picturesque sandy beaches, majestic coastline, infinite recreational activities, award-winning dining and world-class shopping, Newport Beach is more than a sophisticated beach town - it's a way of life.
Newport Beach is so rich in wonderful things to see and do that you could spend weeks here and still not manage to do and see them all. That said, however, it's also true that the area immediately surrounding the city is full of attractions well worth exploring - and that Newport Beach is centrally located near every major visitor attraction in Southern California, making this a singularly convenient spot from which to experience all of the attractions that the entire region has to offer.
It's not only the proximity to all of these activity and recreational options that makes this city such an ideal jumping-off point. It's also the fact that returning to Newport Beach at the end of the day feels so relaxing, so rewarding, so... right that it's like taking a vacation from your vacation.
Staying in Newport Beach is exactly the experience you want it to be, whether you're looking for a full-service coastal resort, a five-star luxury hotel, a long-term corporate residence, or a cozy, intimate, European boutique-style inn.
Newport Beach embodies the ideal of coastal California living. It is casual but sophisticated, wealthy but affordable, breathtakingly beautiful but delightfully within reach. And no element of the Newport Beach experience makes that ideal more readily accessible than the area's outstanding array of accommodations options.
You just haven't eaten out until you've eaten out in Newport Beach. There are a number of reasons for this. The seafood restaurants, of course, benefit hugely from their proximity to the ocean. For well over a century, the city has been home to an active fishing fleet whose haul from the ocean has had to meet the exacting demands of local restauranteurs and satisfy the discriminating tastes of diners who know what outstanding fresh fish tastes like. Unless you catch and prepare it yourself, you'd be hard pressed to find fish and other seafood as delectably fresh as what you'll find in Newport Beach's many outstanding eateries.
The ocean plays another role, too - that of a backdrop. Along the waterfront, as you would expect, the restaurants look out at the ocean and the harbor. But the dramatic, swiftly ascending landscape of Newport Beach enables many restaurants that are not right on the water to provide their guests with commanding, panoramic views of Newport Beach's beautiful, accessible seascape.
The dramatic coastline of Newport Beach and its proximity to the water have always played a great part in the development of the City. The City's first inhabitants thousands of years ago were the Shoshone Indians who lived along the Pacific coast, supported by the abundance of the seas and fertile land.
In the mid 1700's, the Spanish aristocrat and military leader Gasper de Portola led an exposition to claim California frontier land for Spain. Portola enlisted the aid of Father Junipero Serra and numerous European soldiers to explore previously unmapped territory.
Decades later in the 1800's, land holdings of the Capistrano Mission were parceled out as Spanish and Mexican land grants to war heroes and aristocratic families. Later, many Spanish and Mexican landowners were forced to sell large tracts of their land. The most prominent landowners of the area, Don Sepulveda and Don Bernardo Yorba, men whose combined holdings comprised Newport Beach's upper bay and lower bay, sold their tracts to American entrepreneurs by the names of Flint, Bixby, Irvine and McFadden.
Santa Ana, Tustin and Orange became new farming communities for the settlers who arrived by steamer and covered wagon. Not long after, hide and tallow businesses emerged. The first stirring of commerce began when in 1870, a small stern wheeler from San Diego named "The Vaquero" made its first trip to a marshy lagoon to exchange lumber for hides, tallow, livestock and gain. James McFadden and other ranch owners in the Lower Bay decided from then on that the area should be called "Newport."
In 1888 James McFadden changed the isolated settlement by building a wharf that extended from the shallow bay of the peninsula to deeper water where large steamers could dock. Shipping activity increased dramatically, and in two years, Newport was known as a vibrant Southern California shipping town.
Attracted by the activity, Pacific Electric Railroad established itself in Newport in 1905, connecting the City of Los Angeles by rail. Rapid transit brought camping families to the waterfront, and small hotels and beach cottages sprang up to cater to the emerging tourist industry. At about the same time, the McFadden brothers sold their holdings of Peninsula land. West Newport, East Newport, Bay Island and Balboa became vacation communities in the beach boom decade. In 1906 with a population of 206 citizens, the scattered settlements were incorporated as the City of Newport Beach. These early settlements soon filled in on the Peninsula, West Newport, Balboa Island and Lido Isle, developing from West to East.
Parts of Newport Heights and Corona del Mar were annexed soon after the turn of the century. Between 1934 and 1936, the federal government and the county undertook work around the harbor. They dredged the Lower Bay, extended jetties, and created the present day contour of Newport Beach.
In 1936, community members dedicated the City's main harbor, named Newport Harbor. Just six years later, during World War II, the harbor became a vital hub as naval ships were built and repaired in its coastal waters. Newport Beach businesses flourished due in part to an influx of new military personnel. At the end of the war, many service men and women decided to stay, triggering a real estate boom in Newport Beach. Seasonal rentals became year-round housing, and the City's identity as a summer resort location began to change.
The Santa Ana freeway, built in the 1950's, brought even more citizens to the City. During this time, housing development began to spread northward from the waterfront to the hills and mesa areas. Industries changed, as the fishing industry, once the backbone of Newport Beach's economy, gradually declined to be replaced with vibrant new businesses and commercial centers. By the 1970's, rapid urbanization led to the building of shopping centers, hotels, high-scale restaurants, and many new homes.