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Small-Group Best Beaches in Orange County Day Tour
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Ways to Experience Crystal Cove State Park
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Reviewed September 9, 2016

Crystal Cove State Park has something for everyone: great shoreline all along the coast, camping at Moro Beach, hiking trails, classic California beach architecture at the historic district, great grub at the Beachcomber restaurant, and even some limited dog-walking options on the paved trail meandering the bluffs overlooking the sea.

We stopped in at a few different park entrances but spent the majority of our time at Crystal Cove's Historic District as we'd seen shows about it and done quite a bit of reading about it prior to arrival in the area. A fascinating collection of vintage cottages, treasured examples of "California vernacular architecture", were part of a beach community popular circa 1920s-1970s. This district is now protected through California State Parks.

The cabins can be rented to park guests but book up like a year in advance.
The restored cabins are totally cool, but I actually felt more of an affinity for the ones in what they call "Phase 3", waiting forlornly, decrepit and beautiful behind a chain-link fence. These weathered, crooked and neglected cottages inspired my imagination and I was excited to think of them coming back to life and being inhabited again in the future, as well as picturing them in their mid-century hey-day.

One of the more famous cottages at the park, known as "The Beaches Cottage" due to the 1988 Bette Midler flick filmed there, has been converted to a small museum about Hollywood's presence there and the movies made in the area.

Volunteer dude named Chester at the visitor center was totally cool. The small gift shop had some neat stuff, and we enjoyed a late lunch at the hip "Beachcomber" restaurant in the middle of it all.

Fascinating piece of California history.

Date of experience: September 2016
1  Thank ellen jo r
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 9, 2016

Looking more like a country club lawn than any park I've ever seen, this immaculately kept park is a wonderful access point for swimming, surfing and beach-combing. Steep access is hard on the elders but a shuttle runs from the parking lot and costs a buck. Snack options also but the gem are the gardens and the beach.....

If you're in the area, it's a must see!

Date of experience: September 2016
1  Thank Chicagonative_7
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 6, 2016

The beach house from the movie Beaches and a whole lot of history are found and this popular SoCal beach. Parking is across the street and up the hill. An easy paved path takes you under very bush Pacific Coast Highway to a magnificent stretch of undeveloped beaches. For those that would rather get a lift, take the tram! A restaurant and full bar are steps from the sand, but be prepared to wait up to an hour. You do get a pager that is good for a mile or so, so bring a book or stroll the beach. This is a very kid friendly area as well. Low tide exposes abundant tide pools.

Date of experience: September 2016
1  Thank Tipton H
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 5, 2016 via mobile

We went to the park for convenient parking and access to the beach. Pleasant surprise. Little cottages, cool beach restaurant bar, clean beach, very popular if you're in the know.

Date of experience: September 2016
Thank RonaldM876
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 5, 2016

In a town that features an automobile row containing sales rooms for Bugatti, MacLaren, Maserati, Ferrari and Bentley it's refreshing to find a beautiful state park on the oceanfront with people of all social and ethnic stripes enjoying the first rate beach. Parking costs $15 per car at the all day rate. Smallish parking lots are dispersed along the top of eroding bluffs, presumably in an effort to set limits to the numbers of users. A wise move. Different lots lead to different coves below. Toilets and changing rooms are positioned at the head of pretty steep concrete inclines that lead down to the sands. Great going down, not so wonderful on the return journey. There are a few lifeguard towers with patrolled sections but most of the beach is used at your own risk. Rocks with small pools appear at intervals, adding interest for little ones. One section of the back beach that contains decaying summer cottages is fenced off. It is a poignant reminder of an earlier era in this now crowded portion of the state. Waterfront sand is hardpacked and excellent for walking while rear areas have ample amounts of soft sand suitable for sitting. I estimate the beach is about 200 feet wide on average with some wider spots. Lots of sailing vessels and party fishing boats offshore on the Labor Day weekend we were there together with a parasail duo and an annoying cigarette boat that roared along offshore disrupting the generally tranquil atmosphere of the locality. This is one of SoCals best "natural" offerings, well worth making a detour to visit.

Date of experience: September 2016
2  Thank Taughboyne
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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