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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Greater Los Angeles: Experiencing Crystal Cove

Crystal Cove State Park is located between the communities of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach in Orange County. Run by the California State Park system, Crystal Cove has three miles of coastline, as well as 2800 acres of bluff and canyons set aside for hiking, mountain biking, and horse back riding. 

This time last year, my wife, teenage kids and I were in Orange County for a few days. Good times. My wife and I got up early one morning to explore Crystal Cove. 

What's unique about Crystal Cove is how incredibly undeveloped it is. We were staying across the Pacific Coast Highway at the Marriott Newport Coast Vilas, so we just walked. There's also parking available on-site ($15 for the day, with discounted "sunset" rates). 

Regardless if you walk in, or park on site, you'll pass through several hundred yards of coastal sage before getting to cliffs overlooking the ocean. This is what much of coastal Southern California looked like for thousands of years. 

There are several overlooks and trails down to the beach below. 

The beach is generally wide, flat and - for Southern California - very empty. The lack of people is due to the face that it's not possible to park your car at the edge of the sand and easily haul your stuff to the sand. Crystal Cove is purposely different.

There's also rocky outcroppings and tidepools to explore. 

This was about 9am on a weekday. I'm curious what Crystal Cove looks like on an weekend afternoon in July. That, perhaps, is drawback of the limited on-site parking. 

Crystal Cove also and a dozen or so "historic" rustic beach cottages available for rent. If you're expecting the Marriott, you're probably gonna hate this. These cottages were built in 1920's - 1940's, they are an absolutely a step back in time. Apparently, there's not even parking next to the cottages; instead you have to hike in about a half a mile from a lot on the other side of the Pacific Coast Highway.  

If, however, you're looking for a step above camping, and a unique get-away at the beach - then this might be for you. The reviews on Trip Advisor are very postive. 

Here's a link with some reservation information. Like other State Parks, they begin taking reservations six months in advance! 

A final view of Crystal Cove State Park. Worth a visit, in my opinion. 

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