The idyll of Southern California beaches, Crystal Cove State Park is 3.2 miles/5.1 kilometers long, with an undulated oceanfront dotted with tide pools and secret coves. Kids can beachcomb and explore, play in the usually friendly surf, fly kites, and see what surfcasting fishermen reel in. The park also includes a trail network that heads inland—popular routes for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
At night, families can stay at one of dozens of restored 1930s-era beach cottages in a historic compound (just plan well ahead; cottages are offered by lottery and rent out months in advance). Or try your hand at beach camping and pitch a tent on bluffs with sweeping ocean views. The Beachcomber Cafe is right on the water and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and cocktails, of course, if you’ve had a long day of dashing after the kids.
From board shorts to mouse ears to designer clothes, what you wear in this sun-splashed corner of the state says everything about how you like to play. Whether it’s surf-perfect beaches or celebrated theme parks, all framed by oceanfront towns dotted with luxury yachts, “The O.C.” stands out as one of California’s—make that the country’s—most iconic destinations.
“Surfing is like golf. . . it keeps knocking you down. But when you stay with it and catch that wave. . . magic.” --actor Dennis Quaid
Shop at spectacular South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, or get the surfer look in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, USA.
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