Midway between Corona del Mar and Laguna, Crystal Cove State Park is a favorite of local beachgoers and wilderness trekkers. It encompasses a 3.2-mile stretch of unspoiled beach and has some of the best tide-pooling in southern California. Here you can see starfish, crabs, and other sea life on the rocks. The park's 2,400 acres of backcountry are ideal for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, but stay on the trails to preserve the beauty. Crystal Cove Historic District holds a collection of 46 handmade historic cottages (16 of which are available for overnight rental), decorated and furnished to reflect the 1935 to 1955 beach culture that flourished here. On the sand above the high tide line and on a bluff above the beach, the cottages offer a funky look at beach life 50 years ago.
Reserve America. Cottages, which average $180 per night for four people, can be reserved up to six months in advance from Reserve America 800/444–7275. www.reserveamerica.com.
Store. The Store carries fine art photography works by local plein air artists, as well as jewelry, children's toys, and beach apparel. 949/376–8762.