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Newport Beach is the kind of place that when you think you see John Wayne at the grocery store, it is John Wayne. Or actually was, since he passed away some years ago.
This is the place to go if you like sailing, great weather, nice beaches and shops. It's not pollution-free, like it was in the 1960s, when you could dig for clams, find abalone and starfish, and spot seahorses while you swam in the bay. Sand dollars used to be a commonplace, but no more. Still, the beaches are great and if it's not summer, it won't be too crowded to rent a bike and ride along the boardwalk for the two-mile stretch between the Newport Pier and the Balboa Pier.
Newport has a wonderful small boat harbor. You can rent an electric boat at the Balboa Pavillion and cruise around the islands: Lido, Balboa, Bay, Harbor, Collins, etc.
For shopping, head to Fashion Island, or wander around nearby Balboa Island.
Restaurants: Try the Shanghai Pine Garden on Balboa Island and Original Pizza on the Balboa peninsula.
Where to stay: The Four Season's Hotel is the place if you can afford it, rather than put up with the seediness of beachfront hotels. Or rent a place on Balboa Island, also very expensive. The Newport Marriott isn't bad either, and, like the Four Seasons, is next to Fashion Island shops.