Crystal Cove

I was fortunate to have secured a one  night reservation for beach cottage #19B at Crystal Cove during our September trip to southern California.  These cottages have been refurbished to reflect the style of California beach vacations in simpler times before the advent of wifi, computers, cable TV,…
But snagging a reservation through Reserve America requires the use of modern technology to log on the first of the month, 6 months prior to the month of your desired stay and being lucky enough to secure one of the limited number of cottages available.  Checking several times a day for a few weeks prior to our trip, I managed to snag a cancellation for one of the smaller units for 1 night, which would not require sharing dorm-style accommodations as some of the units do. Having learned about this unique spot through articles in Sunset & Coastal  Living in recent years, my husband’s siblings and families had traveled to the location just south of Newport Beach several years ago over the Christmas holiday season to dine at the Beachcomber Cafe in one of the cottages on the beach.  We had ample time to stroll along the beach and explore the tide pools as we waited to be seated. Our small unit with only small refrigerator and microwave should be adequate for our 1 night stay, though many other units offer more complete kitchen facilities.  It gives us an excuse to dine at the Beachcomber Cafe again or the more casual Ruby’s Shake Shack on the cliffs above by Hwy .
Lying halfway between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, about 60 miles south of Los Angeles, Crystal Cove first attracted Hollywood filmmakers in the 1920s.  Seasonal tent-dwellers took up residence in the 1930s.  For the next half-century, a handful of families leased cottages from the Irvine Company, which owned most of the area’s coastal ranchlands. In 1979, the land was sold to the state of California for preservation as a State Park.  The community of Crystal Cove cottages was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and the cottage dwellers faced a 22-year countdown before they would have to vacate their cottages by July, 2001.  The State had awarded a private developer rights and a 60 year lease to turn the historic cottages into a luxury resort. A third generation Covite, Laura Davick, resisted the plan, proposing an alternative plan that would keep the Cove’s cottages totally intact with a  combination of overnight rental and educational uses.  She founded the non-profit Alliance to Rescue Crystal Cove in 1999. She took her cause to Sacramento where she eventually prevailed.  In 2003, the organization transitioned into the Crystal Cove Alliance as it’s mission shifted from rescue to restoration and education.The Crystal Cove Alliance is the first cooperating association in the history of State Parks to be awarded a concession contract.  It’s a unique model that keeps revenues in the park for future restoration. The Crystal Cove Historic District is a 12.3-acre coastal portion of the 2,791-acre Crystal Cove State Park. The federally listed Historic District is an enclave of 46 vintage rustic coastal cottages originally built as a seaside colony in the 1930’s & ‘40’s and nestled around the mouth of Los Trancos Creek. It is one of the last remaining examples of early 20th century Southern California coastal development. California State Parks and the Crystal Cove Alliance have completed Phases I and II of restoration in the Historic District, which provide cottages for visitor services, educational and community programs, a restaurant, and 21 cottages for overnight use by the public.  Each cottage has been authentically and painstakingly restored to preserve the architectural charms of the original structures.  Seventeen cottages remain to be restored as funds become available. Located off busy Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove is one of Orange County’s largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore. 
Heading down to our cottage on the beach.
Looking down on the cottages beneath Ruby’s Shake Shack
Ruby’s Shake Shack on the ridge above the southern cottages
Headed to #19B in the lower level of the white cottage
below #19A known as South Sea Shanty

“Savor the spectacular views from one of four(4) decks in this beachfront cottage dating to 1931.
Guests in this large unit overlooking the beach will enjoy a spacious living/dining room with high ceilings, a sofa bed, two twin beds and a front door to the front porch, a tiled kitchen with ample storage space, a bedroom with two twin beds, and an ocean view bedroom with a full bed.
One covered and three uncovered spacious decks are perfect for basking in the sun or indulging in an oceanfront dinner. Stairs from one side deck lead guests onto the beach.


“Guests in this cozy downstairs studio unit located on the ground level of Cottage 19 will enjoy gorgeous views and an open floor plan with a full bed, sofa bed, and windows facing the ocean.
Originally built in 1931, this studio is only steps away from the beach. Please note that this unit has no private bedroom and is the lower level of Cottage 19.”

A peek inside #19B
View from #19B
Beachcomber Cafe is located in the cottage with umbrellas on a deck for dining.
The sun begins to drop towards the horizon in the west as it nears 6:45.
So we head to the Beachcomber Cafe to grab a bite to eat as we watch the sun set.
A recent e-mail from the Crystal Cove Alliance reminds us:
“How hard it is to escape from places. 
However carefully one goes they hold you – 
 you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences.”
Katherine Mansfield (1888-1993) Writer