Free and Affordable Fun in Newport Beach, California

Newport Beach, a seaside community in Orange County, California, provides visitors lots of fun things to do. Even better, many are free or reasonably priced. In fact, natural beauty and attractions offer places to explore without breaking the budget. If visiting the area, have fun in Newport Beach with these affordable things to do.

Affordable Fun in Newport Beach: Top Things for Budget-savvy Travelers

free fun newport beach family

Learn With Newport Bay Conservancy

As an ecological reserve created in 1975 to preserve the coastline and tidal wetlands around the bay, things to do include birdwatching, hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. The Newport Bay Conservancy also has boat launches and designated areas for clam-digging and swimming. Admission: free.

Explore Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center

This 10,000-square-foot educational facility in Newport Beach offers panoramic views of the bay. Exhibits and hands-on displays teach guests about life in and around the Upper Newport Bay. The on-site Ray and Elsa Watson Theater shows Nature in Your Backyard, and nature lovers of all ages enjoy live reptile and amphibian displays. Admission and parking: free.

Tour Sherman Library and Gardens

This attraction has a walk-through museum of living plants. Follow its brick walkways, and enjoy seasonal gardens and peaceful fountains. The library features maps, documents, newspapers, and other publications related to the environmental and botanical history of the Pacific southwest. The on-site cafe serves French fare for lunch and Sunday brunch. Admission: $5 (adults); $3 (children 12-18); free (children 12 and under).

newport beach affordable fun vacation

Visit Balboa Island

Full of shops, restaurants, events and things to do, Balboa Island is a small community in Newport Beach. Take a whale-watching cruise for under $40 to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Cruise discounts are also available, and a portion of admission benefits the Crystal Cove Alliance. Shoppers will enjoy browsing dozens of small boutiques that sell everything from clothes to special gifts (there are no chain retail stores). Restaurants, coffee shops, and fresh-food stands refuel visitors.

The Balboa Fun Zone, home to the area’s popular Ferris wheel, delights riders of all ages. Hop on the wheel, and see scenic views of Newport Harbor and Pacific Ocean. Visitors can also challenge someone to a fun game at the arcades, have amusement food favorites and check out small shops. Ferris wheel price: $4 per rider; no single riders under 13.

Spend a Day Outside

The outdoors provide an inexpensive way to have a great time and make memories. Newport Beach has several rental options for boating, sailing, fishing and surfing. The Wedge draws water lovers from all over, as its waves sometimes measure 30 feet high. Hikers will want to check out Upper Newport Bay, home to 10.5-mile trail that challenges all skill levels.

Crystal Cove State Park also features trails, beaches, access to a historic district and nearby underwater park. Off the beach, find El Moro, a 2,200-acre chaparral canyon with 18 miles of biking, hiking and horse trails. Admission: $5 to $15, depending on time spent.

Shop Fashion Island

Perfect for girlfriend getaways or an evening out, Fashion Island features hundreds of stores – big and small – providing a one-stop shopping spot. This large shopping destination offers three floors to explore, as well as hosts special events and sales. Island Cinema shows the latest releases, and offers a full menu, complete with beer and wine. Cost: Budget for souvenirs, food and treats.

Free Fun in Newport Beach

Want to have more fun in Newport Beach? Some travelers can receive free admission to other area attractions when they book an iTrip vacation rental in Newport Beach. The Free Fun program gives families access to free SUP or kayak rentals, free admission to Knott’s Berry Farm and The Reptile Zoo. In addition, the program renews each day of their stay, helping guests save even more money. Read about the iTrip Vacations® Newport Beach Free Fun program.