The Orange County landscape is brimming with Instagram-worthy photo ops! Newport Beach in particular is home to several. Although a picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes scenery is so captivating that the picture just doesn’t even do it justice. When you’re in southern California, you won’t want to miss the best Instagram spots in Newport Beach in order to experience them yourself.
If you’re not a big #instagrammer you’ll want to either #latergram these or display them on your wall at home to reminisce the sun and sand in SoCal.
The name says it all. You’ll truly be inspired by the breathtaking ocean views atop Inspiration Point in Newport Beach. It offers many Instagram-worthy vistas of the coastline and beautiful sunset. To get to the Corona del Mar beach below, take the stairs from Ocean Blvd. There you’ll find fire pits to roast s’mores during a #beachbonfire and a big jetty stretching out into the ocean for the daring and adventurous to take a #titanicshot.
To find parking, look for spots on Ocean Blvd. or in the residential areas. Also, there really isn’t any shade provided at Inspiration Point, so a hat, sunglasses, or sunscreen will come in handy during the daytime.
A few reviewers on Yelp said…
Catch the luminescent moonlight or a scintillating sunrise or sunset here. And let the oceanic air, gracefully invade your senses.
It is a prime place for some peaceful reflection and admiration of the beautiful California coastline.
We drove here from Anaheim in under 30 minutes. For out of towners, this is a must do if you are anywhere in the OC.
Named for its close proximity to the Corona Del Mar neighborhood in the city of Newport Beach, this state-owned stretch of beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing and beach bonfires. The volleyball courts, bar-b-ques, picnic tables, and clean restrooms make it a popular place to spend a #beachday.
If you’re traveling with kids, Little Corona Del Mar offers tide pools that are fun for exploring marine life like sea anemones, crabs, and more! You may want to bring swim shoes and sand toys. Overall, it makes for a great #familyvacation photo op.
Enter Corona Del Mar beach from the intersection of Ocean Blvd. and Jasmine Ave. or the intersection of Ocean Blvd. and Orchid Ave. As with most beaches, they do charge a fee for parking ($1/hour or $15/day). While you’re there, explore Pirates Cove Beach, on the corner of Ocean Blvd. and Heliotrope Ave.
A few reviews from Yelp say…
We spent the entire day in the tidepools and had such a blast searching for sea life: hermit crabs, sea hares (snails), sea anemone, chiton, crabs, and shells. I highly recommend this beach to everyone!
This gem of a beach is stroller and wheelchair friendly, has clean restrooms, and has a lifeguard on duty. Take an umbrella for shade, water shoes to comfortably explore the tidepools, snacks and drinks, and make it a memorable day trip!
The main Beach of Corona del Mar is my fav for swimming or getting an evening power walk in but Little Corona is strictly for relaxing! Bring a picnic lunch and some friends and prepare to feel your cares slip away amid the surf and sunshine!
3| Balboa Pier
Located on Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, the Balboa Pier is the quintessential location for a #selfie, #sunset, or #pier photo op (or a combination of all three). It’s clean, safe, fun for families and often not as busy as the Huntington Beach Pier or Newport Pier (although those are great Instagram spots). Sip a milkshake in the Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier, rent a kayak, paddleboard, or boogieboard, or try out the world’s first water-powered jet pack!
There’s also a seaside amusement park called the Balboa Fun Zone with an array of classic park diversions: a ferris wheel, carousel, arcade games, funnel cakes, and cotton candy. The ferris wheel ride is a bit longer than the usual, but you’ll be situated in the best place to enjoy prime views of Newport Harbor and the Pacific Ocean. A lot of boats leave from Newport Harbor, so it’s also the perfect location to go on a whale-watching or sunset dinner cruise and Instagram your experience.
There are parking lots nearby where you can park for $15 a day or $1.50/hour.
Yelp reviewers said…
The general vibe and atmosphere at Balboa is LOVELY. The sun shines just a little more vibrant; the atmosphere seems nicer and calmer; and lots of little shops to check out. I definitely prefer it here to lay out on the beach, grab a book, and soak up the sun.
The Balboa Pier is one of many piers along the beach but this one has a Ruby’s Diner at the end in case the salty sea air makes you hungry. The view is gorgeous on a clear day. You could have a bonfire nearby, a picnic, or just hang out on the sand to watch the waves. Parking nearby is metered but if you park after 6 pm, parking is free.
Crystal Cove State Park is comprised of three and a half miles of pristine beach as well as wilderness trails that extend into the San Joaquin Hills. Straddling both Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, this place is chock-full of things to do: hiking, camping, backpacking, mountain biking, swimming, and beachcombing. There’s even a popular cafe right on the beach called the Beachcomber!
Locals frequently come here to relax, de-stress and of course, watch the sunset. Instagram-worthy indeed.
A fun way to access part of the beach is through a pedestrian tunnel underneath the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). It has wall murals and drops you off near the refurbished beach cottages where sun-seekers spent their summers during the 1920’s and 1930’s. They make for an historic Instagram-worthy photo op. Cottage #13 on the southern-most point of the beach was featured in the 1988 film “Beaches.”
To take this route, simply park in the lot on the corner of the PCH and Los Trancos. Click here for a map. This parking lot is open the latest, until 10:00pm.
The Yelp reviews say…
As for the beach itself, it is has long stretches of sand and tide pools where you can find crabs, starfish, and other animals.
I also enjoy the 7 mile round trip beach walk with an intermediate stop at Beachcomber Restaurant (my pick for best view restaurant in Orange County).
There are not many other good hiking spots in the area that are this close to the beach, which comes in very handy on hot days because the ocean breeze is amazing. The view is breathtaking.
5| The Wedge
Featured in the 1964 film Endless Summer, this is one of the hottest spots for bodyboarders and bodysurfers in Orange County. It’s here that you can capture an epic, Instagram-worthy wave on video. The beach here is peaceful, relaxing, and often not too crowded (possibly because it’s not a place for casual swimming). Take a stroll to admire the oceanfront properties or watch the sunset while sitting on the jetty.
Parking can be tricky depending on the season and time of day, since there are mainly only spots available in the residential area near the Wedge. You may want to pack a light bag in case the walk from your car to the beach is farther than you planned.
The Yelp reviews say…
I wouldn’t recommend the wedge if you’re looking for a beach to frolic around in the sand/ocean, but if you’re an experienced surfer or someone who wants to see crazy large waves & surfers then this is a must visit!
We started along the balboa pier and made our way past Newport bay and over here to the “wedge.” As we arrived the swells of the waves were quite large and there were body surfers in the water awaiting a good wave to come in. I suppose the rocks that extend into the water help create these wedge like waves that are simply amazing to look at.
This is where I go to refill my spirit and restore my serenity. I have had numerous once in a lifetime experiences here and captured many in photos. Many photographers gather at this pristine location.
Not to travel brag, but…
While some may be concerned of “travel bragging” on Instagram, Conde Nast recently squashed that fear by saying,
A stunning image can pierce the wall of bitterness, resentment, hostility, and envy that stands between you and your non-traveling friends back home and can genuinely convey the wonder of travel. Great photography conquers all.
Savor the Memories
When you’re trip is over, download an app like Chatbooks on your return flight to quickly and easily make all those Instagram photos into a book.