Crystal Cove State Park

Newport Beach

A few miles of open beach and 2400 acres of undeveloped woodland at this state park let you forget you're in a crowded metropolitan area, at least once you get past the parking lots and stake out a place on the sand. Overnight guests can stay in the dozens of vintage 1930s to '50s cottages (reserve well in advance), and anyone can stop for a meal or cocktails at the landmark Beachcomber restaurant.

Crystal Cove is also an underwater park. Scuba enthusiasts can check out two historic anchors dating from the 1800s, as well as the crash site of a Navy plane that went down in the 1940s. Alternatively you can just go tide pooling, fishing, kayaking and surfing along the undeveloped shoreline. On the park’s inland side, miles of hiking and mountain biking trails await.

Everyone thought the hilltops were part of the state park until the Irvine Company, the actual landowner, bulldozed them to make room for McMansions that are the dream of many an OC resident.

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