The Christmas Boat Parade in Newport Beach is our town’s premier event of the year. There’s just one catch to these 5 nights of merriment. The peninsula can get crowded and finding a good spot to cheer on the parade can be hectic. That’s why we’re breaking down the best stress-free spots for enjoying the Boat Parade.
Watch From Any of These Parks, Beaches, & Lookout Points
A free and easy way to enjoy this 114 year-old tradition!
Bundle up, fill your thermoses with hot cider, and set up your viewing party along the harbor. Marina Park is the most expansive option, with plenty of space for seating on the sand and grass. There will even be a holiday market at Marina Park on the parade’s opening day!
A popular spot, we love watching the parade from anywhere on Balboa Island’s perimeter. This is a great option because you can watch the parade as well as walk the island’s perimeter to gawk at the waterfront homes covered in lights and decorations for the annual Ring of Lights competition.
Lido Marina Village, the waterfront shopping and dining destination, boasts a large deck from which to watch the parade. However, be sure to arrive early for a good seat, because we anticipate lots of crowds at this viewing location.
If you want to avoid the crowds altogether, there are tons of smaller beaches and lookout points from which to watch the parade. Click here for a map of the parade route as well as public viewing options (which are marked in red).
Restaurants With Great Views of the Parade
Wine and dine while ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ at this nautical extravaganza
Prefer to watch the parade from the warmth and comfort of a restaurant? Newport Beach has a litany of waterfront restaurants and bars that get a front row seat to the festivities. Be sure to call ahead to see when the parade will pass by the restaurant and then snag a reservation, because spots fill up quickly!
Lido Bottle Works – award-winning California faire
Circle Hook Fish Co. – Casual walk-up counter with fantastic fried seafood
Malibu Farms – fresh, locally-sourced plates
GuacAmigos – fun, casual Mexican food
Rusty Pelican – classic seafood faire in a slightly elevated setting
Newport Landing Restaurant – classic seafood faire
Harborside Restaurant – casual seafood served in the historic Pavilion
Billy’s at the Beach – fun, lively tiki bar vibes
Lighthouse Cafe – prime location at Marina Park with solid American cuisine
Zinqué – elevated bites and plates with a SoCal flair
Louie’s by the Bay – top-notch steak and seafood
The Winery Restaurant – surf and turf never tasted so good
A+O Restaurant – classy waterfront ambiance at the Balboa Bay Club
Shorebird – dig into something delightful along the docks of the harbor
Nobu – world-famous sushi and sashimi
Watch the Parade from the Water!
Join the Christmas Flotilla by Captaining your own Vessel
We’re going to be honest: venturing into the harbor during the Boat Parade may be more stressful than jolly. The boat traffic is off the charts, and if you’re a novice with watercraft, we highly suggest enjoying the parade from the ease and safety of the shoreline. However, if you’re looking to level-up your Boat Parade evening, captaining your own electric boat may be the way to go!
These local companies still have electric boats available during the Boat Parade (but be prepared to pay a pretty penny!). The experience is very comparable from company to company, so we suggest choosing a company that offers parking! Hey – it’s the little things, right?
Electric Boat Rental – located at Marina Village
Pacific Electric Boat Rental – located along Pacific Coast Highway
Duffy Electric Boat – located along Pacific Coast Highway
Voyagers Rentals – located on Balboa Island
Newport Fun Tours – located along Pacific Coast Highway