Even though I live less than half an hour from the beach cottage pictured below, I’d be psyched to call it my home, if only for the weekend. Luckily, locals and out-of-towners can reserve this cottage or any of the dozenish homes located in Crystal Cove State Park between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. What’s super-cool, beside being situated on the ocean, is that these historic cottages exude the iconic vibe of the 1920’s with carefully restored architecture, art and furnishings. You can choose to stay at themed homes that match their namesakes, i.e., the Dive Shack, the Painter’s Cottage, the Fisherman’s Perch, the Sand Castle, etc. with the modern convenience of microwaves/refrigerators.
Moving to the beach, guests may respectfully explore protected tide pools and view the wide variety of plants and ocean life who call this sanctuary their home. Some creatures visible at low tide include sea anemones, rough limpets, gooseneck barnacles, sandcastle worms, opaleye fish, bat stars, sculpins, and octopus. On the February day that I visited, a mix of singles, couples and families waited for sunset and hoped for a glimpse of the gray whales, returning North from Baja Mexico during their winter migration.
The park itself contains more than 3 miles of coastline and bluffs, and a 1,100 acre underwater park. Beyond the park’s coastal strand lie 2,400 acres of Moro Canyon back country for navigable for hiking and biking. Folks who want to stay closer to shore, between bouts of tanning, swimming, surfing or diving can check out the park’s artsy gift shop or the visitor center and cultural center. There’s also a restaurant on-site aptly called “The Beachcomber” which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Movie buffs will like the film history and media center, housed in the small cottage used in filming Beaches, the 1988 tear-jerker starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. Segments of To Have and Have Not, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were shot on location here in 1944. There’s a movie poster of the famous couple up on the center’s wall, along with one for Herbie Rides Again, filmed here in 1974, as well as others.
Crystal Cove cottages can only be reserved at http://www.ReserveAmerica.com during the first of each month. Daily base rates run from $42 to $249 and you can’t stay for more than seven days. (Why did that suddenly remind me of that move, The Ring, NOT filmed at Crystal Cove. “Seven days,” she repeated in a scratchy, disembodied voice. Never mind.) Twelve percent of all proceeds goes towards maintenance, restoration and preservation. Although, park staff told me they’re currently booked through August, you can check online for cancellations 24/7.
Learn more about Crystal Cove State Park and its historic community by visiting http://www.crystalcovealliance.org.