Located about an hour away from the top-notch music clubs of Los Angeles, Newport Beach offers its own lively music scene. From awesome venues to inspiring festivals, get ready to listen up and bust a move.
I’ve lived in SoCal for the past ten years, and one of my favorite spots is Newport Beach, located 40 miles south of Los Angeles. I especially love the area’s vibrant array of music festivities. In fact, while LA might hold the top spot in most people’s minds when it comes to SoCal live music, Newport Beach holds its own. Here are four highlights:
Newport Beach Jazz Festival
One of the high points of the year for OCers and visitors alike is the Newport Beach Jazz Festival. On the first weekend in June, music lovers from all over gather to take in two full stages of acts. Big-time artists like the Commodores, Chaka Khan, Babyface, Dave Koz and The O’Jays have played here. The event’s laid-back vibe makes it feel as though you and your friends have stumbled into an impromptu backyard concert. If you get hungry, check out the stellar international food court, where you can sample local foods with global flair, including sausages, seafood and funnel cakes.
Leave the car at the hotel. Rideshares like Uber and Lyft are readily available in Newport Beach.
For a mix of food and music available all year long, visit the restaurant Campus JAX. I love to go for dinner (make a reservation), enjoy the menu’s Cajun cuisine (po’ boys, jambalaya) and then take in the music. Watch from your table, or, depending on the band (jazz, blues, cover), move up to the stage to dance. Artists play almost nightly — check thce schedule before you go — so you’re likely to catch a terrific set.
The Blue Beet
A few short steps from the Newport Beach Pier is local favorite The Blue Beet. Situated in the heart of the city, the three-level bar and restaurant hosts live music every night of the week. If you want to take a break from the music, ranging from rock to reggae to blues, head to the rooftop patio for a drink and Pacific Ocean views. The menu features sandwiches, salads and more. But my favorite order is mozzarella sticks — any place that serves fried cheese is for me.
Casa Costa Mesa
Just west of Newport Beach is the city of Costa Mesa, which boasts one of the best music clubs in Southern California. Casa is an intimate speakeasy with a rotating, seasonal cocktail menu. I prefer the acoustic shows featuring soulful, female singers that remind me of the artists I listened to in high school. (I’m a Fiona Apple girl.) But if you’re into a higher-octane experience, local DJs play here often, too.