Newport Beach may be synonymous with surf, sun, and sand, but there's plenty more to do in this scenic community beyond lying on the (admittedly inviting) beach. From sports fishing to skate parks and petting zoos, there are countless kid-friendly activities to engage a family in the heart of Newport Beach—plus a wide variety of enriching options in adjoining Costa Mesa as well. And when SoCal's version of winter rolls around, some of the season's most memorable events take place in these two communities, including one of the oldest holiday traditions in the country.
These 25 fun family activities make up our Newport Beach bucket list:
1. Visit the barnyard animals at Centennial Farm.
2. Enjoy the view at Marina Park's lighthouse-themed playground.
3. Ride an old-fashioned Ferris wheel at the Balboa Fun Zone.
The whales travel farther than any of us to enjoy Newport Beach. Photo courtesy of Visit Newport Beach
4. Take a whale watching trip.
5. Explore the hands-on exhibits at Discovery Cube's OceanQuest.
6. Take the kids to play by the life-sized koi pond at Fashion Island Mall.
7. Feed the ducks at TeWinkle Park.
8. Hike to the butterfly house at the Environmental Nature Center.
9. Rent a fire pit and roast s'mores at Crystal Cove State Park.
Photo courtesy of Lido Marina Village
10. Grab a bite to eat then listen to live music at Lido Marina Village.
11. Teach your kids about the Newport Bay with interactive exhibits at the Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center.
12. Shop for toys, clothes, and books while your kids hit the play area or story time at Anthill ShopNPlay.
13. Book a makeover with a "real" mermaid at Once Upon An Island, an under-the-sea-themed salon and indoor playground.
14. Take your kids deep sea fishing.
Newport Beach kids practically surf before they walk. Photo courtesy of Newport Surf Camp
15. Hang ten with a group lesson at Newport Surf Camp.
16. Sign up for a drop-in art class at Art + Soul Collective.
17. Indulge in an Oreo cookie fantasy milkshake at the legendary Ruby's Crystal Cove Shake Shack.
18. Check out the pros at Volcom Skatepark.
Tidepooling works all year round. Photo by Michele & Tom Grimm
19. Visit the tide pools at Little Corona Del Mar Beach.
20. Take a free ride on a scale model train at Goat Hill Junction Railroad.
21. See a family-friendly show at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
This is the community that invented boat parades. Photo by fortherock/CC BY 2.0
22. Ooh and aah over the floating holiday lights at the nation's oldest boat parade.
23. Teach your kids to whip up dinner at Culinary Kids Cooking School.
24. Play in the snow, visit Santa, or go ice skating at Winter Fest OC.
25. Rent a Duffy Boat, pack a picnic, and tour the Newport Harbor.