The sweet fragrance of love is in the air, and this time it is in Newport Beach, California. Think classic, not cliché. Look beyond the usual destinations such as Bora Bora or Hawaii for your honeymoon, and let the coastal gem of Orange County captivate your love-struck hearts. Famed for its gorgeous sunsets, year-round warm weather, extensive fine dining options, extravagant shopping, and golden beaches, Newport Beach offers the perfect blend of romance, luxury, and adventure that appeals to all tastes and interests. Conveniently located 40 miles south of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and a few miles north of Laguna Beach, Newport Beach boasts a style that fuses old-world glamour with a laidback suburban rhythm.
Once you have your destination locked down, the second most important task is figuring out where to spend your first few nights as a married couple. Begin your romantic sojourn at The Resort at Pelican Hill, an exquisite resort featuring 204 bungalows and 128 villas nestled atop 504 acres of lush, gently rolling hills that descend upon the majestic Pacific Ocean. The earthy colors of the resort impart a feeling of warmth and are reminiscent of home but on the grandest scale. In its four years of existence, Pelican Hill has redefined the height of luxury accommodations in southern California and has effortlessly jostled for the industry’s top distinctions, including Condé Nast Traveller’s “Best Resort in the United States.”
Take your sweetheart for a stroll along the crescent-shaped terrace that towers over the resort’s Coliseum pool while gazing at the immaculate Palladian detailing, and appreciating the subdued grandeur that sets the property apart from other luxury hotels. Creating the perfect ambience for romance, the interiors of the guest villas and bungalows flaunt rustic wood-beamed ceilings and lofty limestone fireplaces, while the balconies open to broad Pacific sunsets. The hotel is not directly on the beach, but because of its hilltop location, the glass-enclosed terraces provide perfect views of the sea and ensure there isn’t a single bad view on the property. Enjoy a bounty of Italian flavors al fresco at renowned Andrea or indulge in a couple’s massage at the award-winning spa—that is sure to keep the romance quotient sky-high!
Leaving the beautiful confines of your Tuscan-inspired bungalow or villa may not be easy, but will be well worth it considering all that Newport Beach offers to enchant newlyweds. Start with a lovely meal overlooking the sparkling Pacific Ocean, and considering California’s diversity, the sky is the limit when it comes to cuisine. One of the many advantages of dining by the sea is its impressive array of seafood dishes. Give 21 Oceanfront a chance, and you will quickly realize why you chose Newport Beach as your honeymoon destination. For some of the freshest and most delectable sushi available outside Japan, head over to Katsuya in the neighboring beach town of Laguna Beach. But if your palette craves a fierier blend of spices, step into Las Brisas or Javier’s and enjoy the traditional flavors of Mexico. Culinary options in Newport Beach and its surrounding areas are bountiful and provide the ultimate sophistication in gastronomy. Dining by the soft glow of candlelight and watching the dazzling sunset panoramas of the Pacific together will offer the perfect finishing touches and make your moments truly unforgettable.
Though famed for its posh sophistication, Newport Beach offers shopping havens to cater to all styles and budgets. For those interested in a bohemian style shopping experience, the boardwalk shops at the Newport Pier and the labyrinthine alleyways shooting off the main strip of Laguna Beach will be true delights. And for the shopping aficionados seeking a decidedly more upscale feel, outdoor luxury destinations such as Crystal Cove Promenade and Fashion Island will not disappoint. And a few miles east, nestled in the neighboring city of Costa Mesa, you will find yourself in the ritzy South Coast Plaza—Orange County’s answer to the famed Rodeo Drive. Maintaining unparalleled standards of excellence and service, South Coast Plaza is the largest shopping center in California, boasting more than 250 retail outlets. Whether you forgot vacation essentials or are simply looking to build on your fashion collection, you will find the shopping scene nothing short of extraordinary.
Whisk off to Catalina Island for the day on an hour-long ferry that departs from the Balboa Pavilion on the Newport Harbor. For an even more luxuriously romantic experience, enjoy the Island from the comfort of your own private yacht charter, which are available for hire (try Gecko Yacht Charters). Take advantage of the stunning ocean vistas and crystal blue waters of the Pacific with your sweetheart and experience the Island through all the adventurous delights it offers—zip lining, parasailing, scuba diving, kayaking, etc.
Though there isn’t a mass public transit system in southern California, there are plenty of other modes of transportation with which you can experiment. Coast along the picturesque California Riviera on a train down to San Diego and spend the day around the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown. Drive an old-fashioned convertible up Pacific Coast Highway 1 to Los Angeles and experience the razzle-dazzle of Hollywood with monumental landmarks such as the Getty Museum, the Kodak Theater, and Universal Studios. Take a romantic gondola ride on the Newport Harbor and toast with a bottle of bubbly to your new lives. Walk along the beautiful boardwalks of Newport Beach and Corona Del Mar and admire the drowning sun segue into the illuminating moonlight. Bike along the Newport Pier and finish your ride with an intimate picnic on the beach. No matter how you choose to soak up the splendor of southern California, you will be rewarded with a slew of picture-perfect moments for that sweet embrace.
Unleash your inner child and spend the day at the iconic Disneyland in Anaheim, only 20 minutes north of Newport Beach. An epic escape from the responsibilities of adulthood, Disneyland offers a world of enchantment, grandeur, and fantasy—you are sure to feel like a king and queen.
Newport Beach offers a theme of unapologetic luxury without missing a beat. The perfect oasis of tranquility offers all the iconic lures of honeymooners without the heavy influx of tourists. From quiet walks along the sandy coves to evening dinners on the Pacific horizon, it will be sure to set the mood of romance, allowing lovebirds to celebrate the beginning of a new journey with panache.
(I don’t own the rights to any of the pictures featured here.)
Featured in Travel Time Magazine