Beach Towns: Crystal Cove
Crystal Cove State Park is a beautiful 3 1/2 mile stretch of beach between Corona Del Mar and Laguna Beach. There are excellent hiking and mountain biking trails on the inland side, plus tidepools and an underwater park for scuba divers.
You can park on the beach side of Pacific Coast Highway or on the opposite side of the road (state park fee) and take an underground path to the beach. You’ll walk past succulent gardens and nasturtium-covered slopes to find a small colony of beach cottages. This area was first used as a tropical movie set in the 1920s and developed into a seasonal beach community in the 1930s and 40s. The Crystal Cove Alliance has restored 21 of the original beach cottages, which are rented by visitors. One of the cottages serves as an education center, where you can learn all about the history of the community and its culture. There are nautical details everywhere, from old surfboards propped up in the ground to glass floats hanging from trees, and the nearby gift shop sells vintage gifts, art, jewelry and other beachy treasures.
You can eat at The Beachcomber and adjacent Bootlegger Bar, or grab a quick bite and a chocolate shake at Ruby’s Shake Shack. Walk to the right of the cottages to visit the tide pools (look for bright orange and purple starfish on the outer rocks when the tide is low) and be sure to peek into the farthest beach house on the way- it’s where the movie Beaches was filmed!