On the water -- Warm weather welcome

June Casagrande

Like many cities that sit on the water, Newport Beach sees a lull in

visitors in the winter months. But this town has something special that

insulates it -- literally -- from reduced appeal in the winter months.

Because most water recreation here takes place in a harbor sheltered

from some winds and cold, Newport Beach has a leg up on tourist

destinations along the relatively harsher coasts.

"We have fantastic year-round features for the tourist market," said

John Cassady of the Newport Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau. "I like

to say that 66% of the time in the winter you can find the temperature to

be 66 degrees in Newport Beach. There are some good hotel values around

this time. The weather remains very attractive year-round. . . . Look at

the Balboa Bay Club, which is on the harbor and has a harbor-side bar and

a pool: In the winter months people are in the pool."

Most notable, though, is the city's tour boat and yacht charter

businesses, Cassady said. Because Newport Harbor is inland from winter

ocean winds, visitors here keep the tour boats sailing all through the

year.

"Hornblower Cruises, Adventures at Sea, American Yacht Charters, Duffy

-- all of them have cruises; especially right around the holidays is

sometimes their best times," Cassady said. "Some even have those fully

enclosed boats. They're quite cozy."

Of course, winter is markedly different from summer. But even this

fact has a special Newport Beach twist. Hotels surely fill with two-week

vacationers here to enjoy the city's natural assets. But it's the

long-term, die-hard summer lovers who transform the town.

Historically, the city's population swells by about a third as

apartments on the water and throughout the peninsula and other areas fill

up with fun lovers. In 2000, the most recent year for which figures were

available, the city's 75,627 population grew by more than 26,000.

"It's a significant difference," Cassady said.

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