Crystal Cove, California State Park

Just North of Laguna Beach before your reach Newport Beach is Crystal Cove State Park. This State Park represents one of the last remaining examples of early 20th century Southern California coastal development.

Crystal Cove

The park consists of three miles of coastline, canyons, steep bluffs and stunning tidal pools. It’s separated into two sections with a a campground to the north and the Historic District to the south. One source writes the Historic District was originally developed in the 1920s as a South Seas movie set and then goes on to report it was developed as a seaside colony in the 1930s and 1940s. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any movie titles that used Crystal Cove as a backdrop nor any other source that referenced Hollywood’s “attraction” to the location for filming. However, it is certain the Historic District consists of forty six beach cottages from the 1930s and 1940s of which twenty two have been restored and are now rental properties. In addition to the historic cottage rentals is the Beachcomber cafe. This is a bar and restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner on the beach.


Tara and I took the family to Crystal Cove earlier today. It was great! I dropped Tara and Roe off by the entrance and took Ashby to park across Pacific Highway 1 in the designated parking. Parking costs $10 a day, but if you have a receipt from the cafe or bar the parking is free.  There is a shuttle that runs the half mile to the Historic District entrance, which Ashby and I took advantage of since I had a lot to carry. The shuttle charges $1 per adult.


The Beachcomber bar has great bloody marys and Tara and I shared a quality kobe beef burger for lunch at the cafe. Be forewarned though the cafe, I’m told, typically has a very long waiting list. For us it was 1:45-2 hours and this is not unusual. We weren’t in a hurry though. The beach is one of the best I’ve been to in Southern California. It’s clean, not at all crowded, has a wide expansive beach, great sand and the tidal pools are nothing short of incredible.

sea anemone

The park is only a short drive from San Diego and Los Angeles. Definitely take an afternoon to check it out.

Complete Crystal Cove SP photo set.