Crystal Cove State Park#1 in Best Things To Do in Laguna Beach
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Crystal Cove State Park is one of the largest beaches you'll find in the greater Laguna Beach area. The shore measures 3.2 miles long, affording plenty of space for both lounging in the sand as well as long walks. The reason for this is that unlike all the other beaches in Laguna Beach, the beach at Crystal Cove State Park isn't in an enclosed cove. Rather, the beach is backed by seemingly endless bluffs that give way to 2,400 acres of backcountry woodland.
This section of the park features 15-plus miles of hiking trails that take visitors inland into the park's canyon and up and down pathways that afford beautiful views of the ocean. A good introduction to Crystal Cove's backcountry is the Moro Canyon trail. The trail is 3 miles out and back, but if you cut along the connected East Cut Across Trail down Moro Ridge, you'll eventually hit the coast following the Moro Ridge trail. It's important to know that no matter where you hike in the park, you may encounter wildlife, including snakes and bobcats. Stay on marked trails, don't mess with the environment and remain alert.
As if this state park didn't already feature the best of both worlds, the park also has an offshore underwater area designated for scuba divers and snorkelers. Another interesting feature in Crystal Cove State Park is the Historic District, a small, federally protected housing community that dates back to the 1930s and '40s. Here you can rent houses through the state and if you need a drink or bite to eat after a day of lounging or exploring, you can hit up the resident bar and restaurant.
Recent visitors found the beach at Crystal Cove State Park to be beautiful and enjoyed hanging out here, whether it was going for a stroll along the sand or getting some sustenance at the on-site eateries. Depending on the time you do go, it can get crowded. Some recommended visiting during the weekdays if you want to share the shore with fewer people; weekends and summertime tend to be crowded. It's important to know that the tide also has a big effect on your beach experience. When it's high tide, the long shoreline turns into separate beaches while during low tide you'll get full beach access as well as the opportunity to explore the tide pools.
Crystal Cove State Park is open from 6 a.m. to sunset and has no entry fee. However, you have to pay to park. An all-day parking pass costs $15 while the hourly rate is $5 per hour (this varies by lot, day of the week and time of year). You can find Crystal Cove State Park less than 3 miles northwest of the center of Laguna Beach. For more information, visit the California State Parks website.
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#2 Heisler Park
Located right on the coast above the bluffs, Heisler Park not only features breathtaking views of the Pacific but it also provides access to four Laguna beaches, including the popular Main Beach, Rockpile Beach, Diver's Cove and the park's Picnic Beach. Start your stroll at the northern end of this Highway 1 stop and you'll be treated to plenty of grassy spaces, stately palm trees, patches of wildflowers and some beautiful sculpture work as you venture down the park's waterfront pathway.
Heisler Park also features benches, picnic tables and barbecues, making it the perfect spot for an afternoon in the sun. What's more, if you start to feel peckish, the street opposite the park is lined with restaurants. Recent travelers agreed that Heisler Park is an absolute gem and highly recommend visiting during the evening for spectacular sunsets. Restrooms are available on-site. Keep in mind that because this is one of Laguna Beach's more popular attractions, parking may become challenging during the evenings and weekends as only street parking is available.There is no admission fee to enter this park and it's open 24/7 daily. For more information, visit the Laguna Beach tourism board's website.
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