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Trip of the Week

Staying Right on Water at Newport Beach Inn

May 29, 1988|MICHELE GRIMM and TOM GRIMM | The Grimms of Laguna Beach are authors of "Away for the Weekend," a travel guide to Southern California.

NEWPORT BEACH — Many folks will be flocking here for their waterfront fun this holiday weekend.

It's no wonder. The city boasts six miles of wide sandy beach as well as 25 miles of shoreline in its harbor. However, most visitors will be surprised to find that Newport Beach has very few accommodations near the water.

We found just four such lodgings, all older properties that have been renovated as small inns. Although some rates are high, three of the inns include a continental breakfast and extra treats.

The only hostelry right by the water is in Newport Harbor. It's Little Inn on the Bay, a favorite of families, foreign guests and businessmen.

Watching the Yachts

At 617 Lido Park Drive, the inn is two short blocks from Newport Boulevard on Lido Peninsula, across from the Cannery and Delaney's restaurants. The two-story building dates to the 1950s, and was the Lido Shores Hotel and Marina until it was remodeled two years ago.

Guests can stretch out in lounge chairs and gather by a small heated pool to watch sleek yachts and sailboats cruising in the channel. The inn's small craft takes guests for hourlong excursions around the bay. Bikes are available, and the beach is four blocks away.

Wine and cheese are offered at the cocktail hour, and milk and cookies are put out before bedtime. For breakfast there are pastries, bread, cheese and fruit in the lobby.

Most of the inn's 30 rooms have views of the bay. Year-round rates begin at $89 a night and go up to $149 for a bay suite with wet bar, refrigerator and microwave.

Two nights are minimum on weekends mid-June to mid-September.

For reservations, call Little Inn on the Bay toll-free (800) 438-4466 or (714) 673-8800.

Coney Island Atmosphere

Not far away on the Newport Peninsula near Newport Pier are two inns at the beach along West Ocean Front.

Only that street and a city parking strip is between inn guests and the sand.

A lineup of shops with beach gear, souvenirs and snacks gives the area a Coney Island atmosphere, but you can escape the hubbub by checking into the Doryman's Inn.

Go around the corner on McFadden Place to its entrance and board the elevator that rises to the posh bed and breakfast. It replaced a rundown rooming house on the second floor.

Canopied Beds

Six of the inn's 10 cozy rooms have ocean views, as does a rooftop sun deck.

Rooms feature brass and canopied beds, sunken marble bathtubs, fireplaces and a decor accented with French antiques.

A continental breakfast is served. It's included in the room rate that's from $135 to $275 a night year-round. Children 16 years and older are welcome. For reservations, call (714) 675-7300.

Directly below the inn is the Rex, a seafood restaurant, and broiled fresh fish, shellfish and seafood chowder are favorites at the very informal Crab Cooker, a Newport institution just across Newport Boulevard.

Two blocks farther west on Ocean Front is Zeppa, a popular dinner spot with pizza, pasta and fancier Italian dishes. It's on the ground floor of the Portofino Beach Hotel, a vintage lodging with rooms renovated in Victorian style.

Minuscule Patios

A dozen homey chambers line the hall upstairs, most with minuscule patios that offer sunlight and the smell of the sea. Two suites at the front of the building look out to the sand and surf. There are even ocean views from the Jacuzzi bathtubs.

Guests get treated to cheese and hors d'oeuvres at the snug downstairs bar, where wine and beer are sold.

Summer rates at the Portofino B&B begin at $100 a night and go to $210 for either of the sea-front suites. Phone (714) 673-7030 for reservations.

Farther along the peninsula near Balboa Pier is a landmark lodging, the Spanish Colonial-style Balboa Inn that first welcomed beach-goers in 1930.

Two years ago a $1.2-million remodeling brought the historic hostelry back to life at 105 Main St.

All 34 of the original rooms (they're on the upper two floors) were redone. Some suites feature fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs and offer ocean views.

Summer room rates start at $95, up to $225 for an ocean-view suite. Coffee and doughnuts are available in the lobby in the morning. For Balboa Inn reservations, call (714) 675-3412.

Walk past the inn's swimming pool and stroll to the end of the pier. There you'll find the diner, Ruby's, which serves the tasty food of the 1940s.

Or follow Balboa's boardwalk, a wide concrete pathway bordering the beach, and go two blocks west to Palm Street for Thai cuisine at Bangkok 3.

Along the same street at Balboa Boulevard is the Bubbles Balboa Club, an Art Deco restaurant/bar with live music.

Two Restaurants

Cross the boulevard to reach the bay and a pair of two-story restaurants overlooking Newport Harbor. Just opened at the Balboa ferry landing is Parker's Seafood Grill, neighbor to Newport Landing. Both welcome vacationers for lunch, dinner and a Sunday brunch.

To reach Newport's accommodations and other attractions along the waterfront, drive south from Los Angeles on Interstate 5 or 405 to California 55, the Costa Mesa Freeway that becomes Newport Boulevard and crosses the coast highway to the peninsula.

Round trip from Los Angeles to Newport Beach is 110 miles.

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