With pleasure boats bobbing in the harbor and brick walkways meandering from shop to shop, Lido Marina Village is a pleasant place to drop anchor and part with some cash.
The 14-year-old shopping center on Lido Isle in Newport Beach has a small selection of (primarily) gift, clothing and jewelry stores, along with a handful of restaurants and small cafes.
Outdoor dining tables along the boardwalk invite browsers to take in the view of Newport Bay, or nibble on a gyro sandwich or stuffed grape leaves and listen to the water slapping against yachts with names like the Omnipotent Crocodile.
Lido Marina Village houses about 35 shops, restaurants and yacht brokers and contains more than 90,000 square feet of retail space. It is next to another collection of shops along Via Lido and the stores and services of Lido Plaza. To wander the whole area, take Newport Boulevard south, cross West Coast Highway, turn left onto Via Lido, then left again into the Lido Marina Village parking garage.
Head down the boardwalk behind the shops of Via Oporto, stopping for a bite at the Lido Greek Gourmet or the German Home Bakery. Or plan dinner under the stars on the patio of the newly remodeled Warehouse.
Jannelle's on the boardwalk carries some good-looking tie-dye cotton shirt and pant sets ($35) and an assortment of painted T-shirts. Jacqueline's Boutique features moderately priced cotton and rayon dresses ($32) and two-piece pant or skirt sets.
Only the sole menswear store in Marina Village departs from the casual theme: Paolo Giardini Boutique carries fine shirts and exquisite silk ties ($20 and up).
Marketing director Robin Jill Hochmeyer says the village has sought merchants selling "classic but casual" clothes. "It's a maritime, nautical community, and the shops reflect that. We don't want to compete with Fashion Island."
Hochmeyer says Marina Village is also looking for unusual shops with distinctive merchandise and hopes to attract more galleries.
One of the original Marina Village merchants, Blackman Ltd. is a handsome shop of jewels, clocks and assorted curiosities. Of the hundreds of items at Blackman there are several knockouts: sterling silver toothpicks ($12.50 and $16.50); gorgeous globe lamps on a carved wood base by Replogle ($800); "shard boxes" made of sterling silver and pieces of 15th-Century pottery from the Peking River in China ($35-$75), and a Swiss travel clock in a black lizard case ($250).
Leila's Gifts International has a giant, stuffed "granny wolf" doll for $99 and a swinging tennis racket clock by Omega for $135.
If you are in the market for a 3-foot-tall gold mermaid holding a lighted orb, you are in luck. Lido Brass & Copper has them ($169.95), along with brass picture frames at good prices.
One of the best stores is the Lido Book Shoppe, featuring U.S. and European magazines and newspapers from England, New York and Frankfurt, plus books in hard and soft cover.
The shopping center caters to local residents, boaters and tourists. Public restrooms are clean and, unlike many shopping area restrooms, unlocked.
The center also has eight yacht brokers, two boat charter firms and three sailing clubs. Coming soon are a new gallery, a new jewelry store and a Mostly Muffins shop.
Hochmeyer's goal is a good one: to lure distinctive merchants a la Laguna Beach shops to Lido Isle. The place could use more galleries featuring local original art instead of posters. More clothing stores with a wider range of merchandise wouldn't hurt either.
LIDO MARINA VILLAGE AT A GLANCE
Address: 3420 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, (714) 675-8662.
Retail Space: 90,000 square feet.
Number of shops, restaurants and services: 35
Most unusual store: A good place to shop for the hard-to-please is the venerable Blackman Ltd., which carries a wide selection of expensive and exquisite trinkets, both large (detailed globe lamps on fine wood frames by Replogle for $800) and small (eggs carved of all kinds of stone for $15 and up; sterling silver toothpicks for $12.50 and $16.50 and boxes made from pottery shards of the Peking River in China dating from 1470 for $35 and up). For those less adventurous, Blackman also carries fine jewelry and performs watch repairs.
Best place to take the kids: Along the boardwalk to watch the pleasure boats and peer through the binoculars (25 cents) posted next to Jannelle's. Nearby is a Mr. Taco.
Quick bites: The Lido Greek Gourmet serves a delicious gyro sandwich (roasted lamb with yogurt sauce) on pita with tomato, onion and pickle for $3.75 and stuffed grape leaves for $3.95. Down the boardwalk at the German Home Bakery, try the cappuccino ($1.50) and fresh pastries.