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How to Secure a Crystal Cove Beach Cottage

Updated on July 10, 2016

Sunset Views are Exquisite

Crystal Cove Beach
Crystal Cove Beach | Source
Many of the charming cottages were built in the 1930s.
Many of the charming cottages were built in the 1930s. | Source

How to Reserve a Cottage

One of the prettiest beaches in Southern California is located along the on coastal highway between the affluent Corona del Mar and picturesque Laguna Beach. The Crystal Cove Cottages were built starting in the 1920s. They have been preserved for guests to feel as if they have stepped back in time, when life was simpler.

To secure a cabin, there are three methods to get a reservation. One is to book online on the first day of each month at or call 800-444-7275. I’ve tried calling before and it’s similar to trying to win concert tickets from a local radio station. I dial, listen to a busy signal, hang up and repeat over and over.

When you want to reserve a cottage, you have to calculate seven months ahead. On December 1, you will reserve a cottage for a June the following year.

The best way to try to secure a cabin is to set up multiple computers. Select a cabin and get it all set for your desired arrival date. At exactly 8 a.m., push the send button. It may take multiple tries, in less than two minutes, but hopefully you will get at lest one of the 24 cabins. You will feel like you won the lottery if you get one.

Another way to rent a cottage is to check online for a cancellation. It’s rare to find one during the summer or fall months, however during the weekdays in the winter and spring, there are more available. Log onto the site and look for an “A” for walk-up availability.

Room with a multi-million dollar view
Room with a multi-million dollar view | Source

Friendly Staff

We hiked up the stairs to the check-in cottage for complimentary hot coffee, tea and apple cider. It’s available throughout the day. Staff members Tom, Joy and Steve were always offering interesting tidbits about the property.

Cabin 18 offers ocean views

If someone in your party has a handicap placard, your odds are a little better to secure a ADA cottage available only for handicapped guests. These cottages have a handicap parking spot near the unit. Guests who rent this cottage, don’t have to park their car across the street from Highway 1 at the Los Trancos parking lot and hike back to the resort or take a shuttle.

Since we brought my father in his 80s with a hip replacement, we rented Cottage 18 - a one bedroom and one bath historic place sitting up on the bluff and near the check-in cottage. The enclosed sleeping porch offers a twin bed with a trundle bed. Nearby is a pull out sofa bed. The cottage easily sleeps 5 guests. It has a kitchenette and large dining table. This restored cottage is decorated with antique furnishings to reflect the time period when Crystal Cove was in its full glory.

There are no televisions or Wi-Fi to distract guests from pelicans flying in a row above their head. Guests leave their doors unlocked when they go down to the sand to sit under an umbrella with a good book or boogie board and swim in the gentle surf.

Cabin 19A

Another time we were lucky to secure two nights in cottage 19A. It's right on the sand and offers a large kitchen and great sitting deck. There is also a side patio with a barbecue and table with chairs to dine outside.

It comfortably sleeps a minimum of 4 and maximum for 8 people with it's two bedrooms, pull down Murphy bed and sofa bed. It's a great location that I would rent again.

There is a studio unit below that is popular due to its location.

This cottage is right on the beach.
This cottage is right on the beach. | Source

A Step Back In Time

Since 1999, the Crystal Cove Alliance started preserving, restoring and protection the cottages and the cultural, historic and natural resources of the State Park.

There were 46 modest cottages built in the 1920s and 30s. A little more than half of these little homes have been restored by the California State Park and Crystal Cove Alliance.

We visited the Education Commons in cottage #46 to learn about the film and media history at Crystal Cove. The Bette Midler movie, Beaches, was filmed at this cottage.

A visit to the gift shop offers books about this destination and fun beach-themed souvenirs.

Instead of playing on a smart phone, families play in the sand. Instead of watching television or typing on a computer, one gazes out at the Pacific Ocean searching for dolphins and appreciating the magical colors of the sunset each night.

Crystal Cove takes guests back to a simpler time in life. In the evening, open your windows and Dutch door to allow the cool salty air to waft into our cottage. Sit on your deck and listen to the rhythmic crash of the waves before going to sleep.

Exploring Tide Pools
Exploring Tide Pools | Source

Exploring Tide Pools

Each morning and evening we casually strolled along the 3.2-mile beach. Ranger Jennifer at cottage #42 informed us about the tide schedule and creatures we might find during low tide. With a colorful guide sheet in hand, we explored the Intertidal zones to find Hermit crabs, barnacles, rock weed, black turban snails and anemones.

Sea Glass

Near the gift shop is Rick “the sea glass man.” He combs the beach for green, brown, clear and red pieces of glass. After he cleans off the sea salt, he sets up a craft table and lays the pieces of glass out on a picnic table, inviting visitors to make a piece of jewelry. Rick patiently shows guests of all ages how to wrap wire around the sea glass to secure on a chain for a one-of-a-kind necklace.

Dining Options on the Beach

There are multiple dining options for visitors. Here are 4 I recommend:

1. Make a reservation on Open Table for the “shoe-optional” Beachcomber restaurant to enjoy seafood, steak, chicken and pork dishes. This was once the historic cottage #15. The Chef is very talented and the fare was surprisingly good. While enjoying a glorious sunset dinner at Beachcomber, six dolphins swam close to shore near the restaurant and gave guests a “SeaWorld” type of show. They jumped out of the water, surfed in the waves and performed back flips. They were so close and having so much fun, that I was tempted to run out into the water and swim with them.

2. Walk up the stairs to Ruby’s shake shack for burgers, fries, gourmet sandwiches, breakfast burritos and over 20 different flavors of ice cream shakes.

3. Many cottages have kitchenettes and barbecues on the deck, so bring food with you and cook right at the beach.

4. Across the street and down a ways (within walking distance) is a Trader Joe's and variety of restaurants from fast food cafes to fine dining.


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