Escape to Crystal Cove State Park to get away from urban modernization. It seems hard to believe that there is an area of coastline in densely populated Orange County that is still so wild and natural.
It is a large state park with 3 and a half miles of beach and tidepools. It extends along both sides of Pacific Coast Highway. Offshore is a marine preserve which snorkelers and scuba divers can enjoy. Hiking and horseback riding trails cross the park on the bluffs and lead down to the beach.
The park is made up of canyons, coastal shrubs, tide pools, sandy beaches and coastal bluffs, with lots of trails to explore. It's not just one cove, but seven coves along the beach.
The historic cottages down by the sea can be rented out. They take you back to an era in the 1920's or 1930's when people went to the "seaside" on "holiday". The cottages are fairly rustic and surprisingly reasonable, price-wise. For the budget minded, there are also cheaper, dorm style cottages.
Camping is available in Moro Canyon, if you don't mind a rugged, back country experience. The camping area is actually 3 miles inland uphill from Pacific Coast Highway going away from the beach. You park at the El Moro lot and hike infor three miles. It's a primitive campground, so you must bring in your own water and take out your own trash. For more information, call 949-494-3539.
In the Crystal Cove Historical District there is a visitor center and also a restaurant called the Beachcomber Restaurant, which has indoor and outdoor seating. Outside you'll also find a snack shack and beach rentals. Up on the highway, the Shake Shack is a fun little beach joint with burgers, etc. and you can sit outside overlooking the bluff and the ocean blue.
A shuttle takes you down to the historic district from the Los Trancos Parking Area across Highway 1. The shuttle costs a dollar, but kids under 12 are free. Or, you can walk through a tunnel on a ten minute walk. Parking costs $15, unless you get your ticket validated at the Beachcomber (and spending at least $15 there).
Crystal Cove is one of the last bits of undeveloped land along the Southern California coast. Enjoy viewing rare plants and wildlife as well as the surf and the sun at the beach.
It's located south of Newport Beach and Corona Del Mar, just at the start of Laguna Beach. It is truly a beautiful natural place where you can leave the city behind.
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