For those choosing between Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach to visit or live in, we put together this comprehensive comparison guide that breaks down the similarities and differences between these 2 Southern California beach cities.
Although they are only minutes apart from each other, the differences between Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach are quite striking. Yes, they both offer a sandy beachfront, but the types of crowds and general atmosphere in each are not very comparable.
Therefore, we broke down this comparison into 5 major sections – a general overview of Huntington Beach vs Newport Beach, their precise locations, a comparison for visitors, a comparison for relocators, and a look at their safety.
Let’s take a deeper dive into both cities so that you can make the right call when deciding between Huntington Beach or Newport Beach for your next vacation or home.
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Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach – Overview
Both Newport Beach and Huntington Beach are located in Orange County in Southern California. They are both a bit south of Los Angeles and sit directly on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Newport Beach’s reputation is more of a laid-back, quiet area that is ideal for families. It is also highly regarded for the upscale shopping and dining that it offers.
Newport Beach also captured 8th place on our latest review of the best California cities in 2023.
Meanwhile, Huntington Beach is known for attracting the surfer crowd, earning the nickname of “Surf City USA.” It is also known for its legendary nightlife and bar scene as well.
Currently, there are 84,000 people living in Newport Beach’s 23 square miles, while just under 200,000 residents live among the 27 square miles of Huntington Beach.
Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach – Location
When comparing the exact location of Huntington Beach vs Newport Beach, understand that they are just 5 miles apart and are actually adjacent to each other. Huntington Beach is a tad more north than Newport Beach and you can drive from one city to the other in about 10 minutes.
Here is the precise location of Newport Beach here on Google Maps.
Here is the precise location of Huntington Beach here on Google Maps.
Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach – To Visit
When deciding between visiting Newport Beach or Huntington Beach, consider the type of vacation you and your family are looking for. As stated above, Newport Beach is more relaxed and also more upscale.
That means that the hotels, bars, and restaurants are generally more expensive in Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach. Newport Beach also has many high-end places to shop, including the famed Fashion Island, which is a huge outdoor shopping mall with all the biggest luxury brands and department stores, such as Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstroms.
One of Newport Beach’s top attractions is its wide range of high quality restaurants. Foodies should definitely consider Newport Beach just for its world-renowned cuisine options alone.
Meanwhile, there are several choices for hotels and resorts in Newport Beach, but not many right on the beachfront. There is Balboa Inn and Doryman’s Inn, but that’s really it. Other big name chains have their properties further inland.
For example, the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa is right next to Fashion Island, while there is a Ramada, Holiday Inn, and Travelodge in Downtown Newport Beach.
Here are the driving times to some popular destinations from Newport Beach:
Newport Beach to Disneyland: 25 minutes
Newport Beach to Angel Stadium of Anaheim: 20 minutes
Newport Beach to Downtown Los Angeles: 60 minutes
Newport Beach to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): 45 minutes
In contrast, Huntington Beach is generally more affordable with a better nightlife compared to Newport Beach. It offers more casual restaurants and shops and gives off a laid-back beach town sort of vibe.
Its strong waves makes it popular with surfers, which also makes it feel a bit more rowdy than Newport Beach.
When you’re not on the beach, you can also visit Huntington Beach’s thriving Main Street, which is filled with restaurants, bars, and surf shops. Or, you can hop over to the newly opened Pacific City beachfront mall that is right on the Pacific Coast Highway. Here, you can visit one of the 50+ stores, restaurants, or cafes that have a direct view of the beach and ocean.
Additionally, Huntington Beach offers several hotels that are right on the beach, something that is lacking in Newport Beach. There is a Hilton, Hyatt Regency, and Kimpton resort hotel directly across from the sand and water.
Here are the driving times to some popular destinations from Huntington Beach:
Huntington Beach to Disneyland: 30 minutes
Huntington Beach to Angel Stadium of Anaheim: 25 minutes
Huntington Beach to Downtown Los Angeles: 50 minutes
Huntington Beach to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): 45 minutes
Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach – To Live
Now, what if you are deciding between Huntington Beach vs Newport Beach to call your next home? Let’s start with a comparison of their cost of living. Newport Beach’s cost of living is roughly 180% higher than the rest of the US.
That cost is mainly due to its extremely high housing costs, which come in at 566% more than the national average.
Meanwhile, Huntington Beach’s reputation as being one of the more affordable beach communities in the state holds true, as its cost of living is only 70% higher than the rest of the US.
Again, it is due to housing costs, but it is a much lower 203% above the national average.
If you consider that the whole state of California’s cost of living is about 40% higher than the US average, Huntington Beach is a relatively good deal, especially since it offers a beach, too.
Huntington Beach is more densely populated and the Pacific Coast Highway goes right through the heart of the city, so prepare for a more lively type of lifestyle there. Meanwhile, Newport Beach offers more space and green areas for its residents, and it’s beach is further away from Highway 1, making it more serene than Huntington Beach.
But, both are plagued with traffic year round, especially near the beach during the summer months.
Newport Beach also features several smaller areas that add to the diversity of the city. For instance, there is the quaint Balboa Island, which is a little piece of land in Newport Bay that features multi-million dollar homes and a charming main street full of boutique shops and cute restaurants.
One final note. Newport Beach allows its residents to build homes directly on the beachfront, while in Huntington Beach, the highway and parking lots separate homes from the beach.
Therefore, if your dream is to walk right out onto the beach, then Newport Beach is the right choice for you.
Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach – Safety
When it comes to safety in Huntington Beach or Newport Beach, there is not much of a difference. Both are regarded as generally safe cities.
Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach – Summary
Overall, when comparing Newport Beach vs Huntington Beach, there is no easy choice. It will really depend on the type of vacation or lifestyle that you want.
We would recommend Newport Beach for those with a young family that want a bit more peace and quiet as well as those who like to indulge in the finer aspects of life.
We think Huntington Beach is best for those seeking a high-energy experience in an unpretentious, laid-back setting.