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Heading to Southern California next Saturday for 8 days. Rented a beachhouse in Newport Beach for 4 nights, then moving over to the Pelican Hills resort for another 4 nights (work related). Will have a rental car.
Any tips or suggestions on cool things to do? Have not done the Hollywood tourist thing in a long time - considering that. Any tips on that? Take a tour or do it on my own? Maybe a day trip to Malibu? Catalina Island?
Any great bars or restaurant recommendations? Las Brisas in Laguna is already on the agenda - love that place.
Are you coming solo or with family? You should check out Corona Del Mar and Balboa Island (both next to Newport Beach). CDM has several nice restaurants/bars (e.g., The Crow Bar, The Bugalow Restaurant, Landmark, Pannini Cafe). The Wine Gallery is a fun wine bar. Balboa Island has some nice shops and decent restaurants, if you are bringing the family.
I like Gulf Stream Restaurant (edge of CDM and Newport) and Flemings Steak House (located in Fashion Island - Newport Beach's main shopping center). Fashion Island has a couple of other decent restaurants and good shopping, if you're bringing your family.
The Pelican Hill Resort (excellent golf) has a couple of very nice restaurants (e.g., Pelican Grill, Andrea). While you're in this area of Newport, you may want to consider the following restaurants located in the Crystal Cove Shopping Center, which is on Pacific Coast Highway: Javier's (good Mexican restaurant), Ocean's Maestro Club (expensive, but very good, especially the seafood), Blue Fin (sushi). Beachcomber's, which is on the sand in Crystal Cove State Park, can also be fun. The Crystal Cove Shopping Center is very close to Pelican Hill -- go down to PCH from your hotel and head towards Laguna and it's on your left. Probably a five minute drive from the Pelican Hill Resort.
Laguna has lots of good restaurants. Some of the ones I like, in addition to Las Brisas, are Sapphire Restaurant, The Cottage (breakfast) and the Montage. The Montage is a top end resort that has a couple of nice restaurants. I like the open air one that is outside and open to the public. To get to the Montage you have to go through Laguna and it's on the right before you get to Monarch Beach. The town of Laguna has lots of options, down in the main drag.
Catalina Island is a fun day trip. You take the ferry out of Newport (Catalina Flyer) fairly early in the morning and it gets you to Catalina's main town, Avalon, in about 50 minutes. Avalon has shops and some restaurants. The restaurants are just so so, IMO, as they can get away with being average because of their location. You can rent golf carts to tour around the island for the day. The wife and I have done this before and enjoyed it.
Good luck. Hope you have fun.
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