Families flock to Crystal Cove not just for its three miles of idyllic beachfront (protected as Crystal Cove State Park), but also for its amazing tide pools. This Orange County stunner, straddled by Newport Beach to the north and Laguna Beach to the south, is also a designated marine conservation area. Tide pools overflow with kid favourites like anemones, sea stars and hermit crabs. Time your visit for low tide, then head to Reef Point and Pelican Point to search for critters among the rocks and pools. There’s also plenty to see if you head out into the water; look for bright orange garibaldis, bat rays, and other native fish and—if you’re lucky—an octopus hiding in a rocky crevice.
Stretch out your stay with a night in one of the park’s rustic coastal cottages along the bluff. Just be warned: Lodgings fill up many months in advance, and there’s usually a long waiting list. Another option: Pitch a tent or bed down in an RV in the park’s campsite. Whatever you do, make sure you’re on the beach when the sun sets. Watching the dark silhouettes of your children trying to get one more minute peering for creatures in the tide pools as dusk descends is a painting beyond price.
Whether it is manicured beach towns or celebrated theme parks, all framed by oceanfront towns and luxury yachts, 'The OC' stands out as one of the state’s most iconic destinations. The always amazing Disneyland Resort, about one hours’ drive south of Los Angeles and two hours’ north of San Diego, continues to be one of the best loved theme parks in the world, while Knott’s Berry Farms and other OC attractions amp up the fun metre.
“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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