4 Enchanting Things to Do in Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove

Good morning, fellow escapists. Landing a coveted state park campsite can be tricky, especially as summer approaches. But landing a weekend stay in one of the famous Crystal Cove Beach Cottages, a bucket list item for many, is the mark of a truly savvy California traveler.

In this issue of Escapes, you’ll find my colleague Cindy Carcamo’s expert tips for making your California cabin dreams come true. You’ll also find other ways to enjoy the sun — and art — beyond the shoreline at Laguna Beach.

Do you have any tips for getting hard-to-get reservations in California? Want to share your favorite places in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach? As always, my inbox is open for your travel recommendations.

Patrons dine overlooking the sea at the Beachcomber at Crystal

(Allen J. Cockroaches / Los Angeles Times)

Stay in one of Crystal Cove’s famous cabins

It’s hard to overstate the rustic magic of Crystal Cove State Beach’s iconic homes. “The cabins, some with new or faded paint, others clad in bare wood shingles, and a few cordoned off with white picket fences, form part of an original village that is something of a nearly 100-year time warp in Crystal Cove State. Beach, a piece of virgin coast”, described Carcamo in his recent story.

“Absolute failure is the typical result when trying to book a stay at Crystal Cove Beach Cottages. Still, the challenge hasn’t deterred me from trying.” His efforts have paid off: in recent years, Carcamo has managed to stay in no less than seven different cabins on the beach.

His recommendation: If you live relatively close, check for cancellations on the day you want to stay, in person.

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“Some weekends, my family gets up early and goes for a bike ride or a hike in Crystal Cove. I happen to go to the main office just before 11am to see if there are any cancellations. If there are, we go home, pack our bags and come right back,” she explains. “If we’re not lucky, we still have a good morning at the beach.”

Find the rest of Carcamo’s booking tips here.

Photo illustration shows a keyhole opening in a cliff at a rocky beach.

Visitors explore a tidal pool in the rock arch of Treasure Island Beach in Laguna Beach.

(Photograph by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Li Anne Liew)

Crystal Cove cabins aren’t the only popular structures on this stretch of Orange County coastline. Just 15 minutes away, in Laguna Beach, there is a “pirate tower” hidden among the cliffs.

Is its name due to the buccaneers? Well no. As you may have guessed, the name “pirate tower” is not entirely accurate.

According to Laguna Beach tourism officials, the apparently ancient tower was actually built in 1926 as an enclosed stairway connecting a senator’s home to the beach below. Later, the senator sold the tower to a retired navy captain and “hobbyist,” who is said to have sometimes dressed up as a pirate and hid coins in the tower’s cracks as a surprise to anyone looking for them. of a treasure

Three young people stand on a rocky shoreline as the sun glints off rolling ocean waves.

Another lovely spot in Laguna Beach: the tide pools at Shaw’s Cove.

The 60-foot-tall turret can be accessed from Victoria Beach at low tide, so visitors should time their visit carefully. Naturally, this Instagram-famous spot also attracts a lot of people, so anyone who wants to take a solo photo with the tower will have to work hard.

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Take a walk along the beach to a “pirate tower”

Five men in 18th century clothing and made-up faces stand in a group.

Cast members wait backstage for their painting at the Pageant of the Masters 2021 “Made in America” show.

(Don Leach / Daily PIlot)

Visit rescued seals and sea lions

After taking in the ocean views, animal lovers can set aside time to visit the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, which rescues, rehabilitates and releases California sea lions, northern elephant seals and other animals.

Many of the animals can be seen during volunteer-led tours of the center’s “visitor’s yard.” The 15- to 20-minute tours allow visitors to see and meet the animals in the center’s rehabilitation pools. Visitors leave with a deeper understanding of the ocean protection measures everyone can take to keep marine mammals safe.

The tours are free, although the center accepts donations. Advance reservations are required for groups of 10 or more people; smaller groups do not need to reserve a time.

Explore the Laguna Beach art scene

Pageant of the Masters is perhaps the best-known example of Laguna Beach’s thriving creative scene, earning a spot on Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds’ list of the 40 Best Outdoor Experiences in California. .

“The good people of Laguna Beach don’t often do crazy art, but when they do…it’s this,” Reynolds writes. “On an open-air stage with orchestral accompaniment, live models pose amidst immaculate sets to imitate famous works of art new and old.”

This year’s Pageant of the Masters runs from July 7 to September 2, but in the meantime there’s plenty of art in town to enjoy. Here are some ideas:

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· Laguna Art Museum, one of the oldest in the state, it houses more than 3,600 works of art.

· More than 100 works of public art are scattered throughout the city. This brochure is a helpful guide.

· Laguna Beach Art Galleries open their doors on the first Thursday of every month from 6-9 pm with a free trolley service connecting the galleries in the community.

· LOCA Arts Education organizes classes, workshops and talks for artists and art appreciators alike. My attention was drawn to the upcoming “Paint Out” event at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, scheduled for April 25 from 9 am to noon.

???? what i’m reading

· “Fleeing the war in Ukraine, I was reminded of the generosity of strangers,” writes Maria Romanenko in Condé Nast Traveler. She describes her flight from kyiv to Poland and the people she met along the way.

· Are 1,818 Airbnbs in Joshua Tree too many? Heather Murphy poses this question and details the city’s “short-term rental gold rush” in the New York Times.

· Sedona, Arizona is another desert destination experiencing over-tourism. “Am I part of the problem?” asks Stephanie Pearson in Outside.

· If you have a library card, you can now get a free pass to more than 200 California state parks, reports Carly Severn. On the KQED website she explains how to take advantage of the program.

· Harmony, California is the “real life Schitt’s Creek”. Andrew Pridgen covers the small town’s colorful recent history at SFGate.

???? road song

Song: “Cuff Your Jeans” by Claud

Favorite phrase: “Do you ever go west? I mean beyond Texas, like California. I would love to take you there.”

Where to hear it: Down the stairs to Thousand Steps Beach in South Laguna.

If you want to read this article in English, Click here



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