It's a prime location. Although I never noticed it in three decades of breezing past on the Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Dunes lies just a block from PCH and Jamboree Road, so close to the shops of Fashion Island you can almost hear them tearing down the Circuit City sign and (keep hope alive!) putting up the new Nordstrom. Generations of locals know Newport Dunes for the fake whale that floats in its lagoon every summer and the fireworks it sends up every Fourth of July.
But for my little family of three, this was an unknown quantity -- not a hotel or condo or rental house, not camping, not a rustic cabin. The resort has its own marina; a little dock; a playground; an upscale restaurant with retractable roof (the Back Bay Bistro); a general store that rents golf carts, Segways and bicycles; and best of all, its own little lagoon, with tiny bay waves lapping at its own crescent of sand, the scene punctuated by meandering ducks, gulls and shore birds. Even after rates rise for summer, it's easy to see the lure of a few lazy days here.
-- Christopher Reynolds
Read more: Newport Beach for kind of cheap family lodging
Planning your trip:
1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660; (949) 729-3863, www.newportdunes.com.Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times