Between these 2 visits to Doheny State Beach, Jeff and I met up with my son, John, at the beachfront of Crystal Cove.
Crystal Cove is actually a state park located in Newport Beach just north of Laguna Beach. It stretches for 3 beautiful miles along the Pacific coastline consisting of inland chaparral, cliffs, canyons, bluffs, tide pools, and a historic district of beach houses. The park was established in 1979. (en.m.wikipedia.org)
Native Americans were the first settlers of this area. Their villages were built around 2 natural springs. With the arrival of Spanish missionaries, however, the tribes were escorted to the nearby Missions of San Gabriel and San Juan Capistrano. In 1864, James Irvine, an Irish immigrant who migrated West during the California Gold Rush to become a miner and merchant, purchased the land of the San Juan Capistrano Mission. By then the Mission was known as Rancho San Joaquin and was in debt. Thus, a perfect time for Irvine and 3 other ranchers to invest in the land to raise sheep and sell wool. By 1876 a drought and an increasingly competitive marketplace destroyed their investment. Irvine, however, bought out his 3 partners and his son, James Irvine II inherited tha property and leased the land to agriculturally diverse farmers, forming the Irvine Company in 1894. James II was a real estate tycoon but the Crystal Cove area was his favorite spot. He allowed family, friends, and employees to build beach cottages here. (en.m.wikipedia.org)
As these cottages underwent renovations and became more permanent residences, their owners had to choose to either move the cottages elsewhere or hand over ownership so the Irvine Company could lease them. The leased cottages became Crystal Cove. Today there are 46 restored beach cottages, built in the 1920s and 1930s, available for rent. (en.m.wikipedia.org)
One of the cottages available to rent is from Bette Midler’s movie, Beaches.
Historic cottage number 15 became the Beachcomber Restaurant in 2006, 5 years after the last permanent residents were asked to move out by the state of California. The cottage was built in 1931 and was once nicknamed the whistle stop. An early resident, a train engineer, built model trains popular with the children in the area. (daytrippen.com)
Artist Vivian Falzetti also resided in cottage 15. She used the blue cottage across the way, number 46, as her art studio. (daytrippen.com)
Crystal Cove continues to attract landscape painters. Early on, this area inspired plein air artists. Plein air is a type of natural light landscape painting technique originating in France. To commemorate this movement, one of the available cottages to rent is named, “Painter’s Cottage.”
The above image is from crystalcovebeachcottages.com
Many movie companies have used Crystal Cove as a stand-in for tropical locations such as Hawaii and Polynesia. Palm trees planted for some of these sets remain here today. (ocregister.com)
But we are not here to paint or film a movie. We are here to enjoy, eat, and drink. In my case I will easily suck down 2 spicy Bloody Mary cocktails! (John brought me here in December of 2013 when I came out to visit Kelly-O’Connell Land when he and Amanda were living in Laguna Beach, before they were married. It was then that I fell in love with a bloody good Bloody Mary!)
The easiest way to access the Beachcomber Restaurant, the historic district, and the beach is to park in the Los Trancos parking lot on the east side of the Pacific Coast Highway. From here there is a footpath leading to a tunnel that crosses under the highway and onto the beachfront.
A few hundred feet more… Wait for it… Ahhhh…