Archives For Beaches

Heisler Park’s Picnic Beach

Maruska —  June 14, 2017

Heisler Park in Laguna BeachPicturesque cliffs and aquamarine waters have made Heisler Park a popular wedding and photo site. But this Laguna Beach landmark is also a family-friendly and accessible spot to take the kiddos for a beachside picnic or to dip their toes in the water.

For a quick beach outing without too much hassle, drive down PCH and grab a burger and fries from Husky Boy, or a health-conscious coffee and pastry from Urth Caffe – the two eateries basically bookmark the entrances to Heisler Park – and take it to the grassy knoll to enjoy. You don’t even have to get wet or sandy!

If you’re up for a real day at the beach with the kids, head down from the grassy area on the sandy, but not-too-steep ramp to Picnic Beach.  You can explore tide pools, search for seashells, and splash in the cool but relatively shallow water (Always be careful, though, the currents can be strong.)

Tide pooling at Heisler Park


  • Plentiful picnic tables atop the bluffs offer a place to enjoy a view of the waves without getting sand in your food
  • Large grassy area to play, picnic, or enjoy the sun without getting sandy
  • Walking distance to eateries like the iconic Husky Boy burger joint and the trendy new Urth Caffé
  • Charcoal grills are available for barbecuing, but they are quickly occupied by large parties on sunny weekends
  • Nicer-than-average beach bathrooms
  • Pristine, aqua-blue water and dramatic coastal views
  • Divers Cove, a very short walk to the right (when facing the ocean), is a popular spot for scuba divers and snorkelers.
  • At low tide, you can walk along the tide pools and look for starfish, sea anemone and hermit crabs.

Heisler Park - Waves

Know before you go

  • Metered parking available on the street, first come/first serve basis
  • Four-hour parking limit
  • Arrive before 10 a.m. on weekends to avoid having to hunt for a parking space.
  • Consider taking the free Laguna Beach Summer Trolley which drops you off right in front of the beach entrance. They easiest place to park is probably at the Laguna Wilderness Park (#17 in map below) or the Laguna College of Art (#16 in map below). They do charge between $7 to $10 to park, but it might be worth it.
  • A stroller-friendly (and wheelchair accessible) paved ramp leads down to the beach. It’s easier to access than many of Laguna’s other beautiful beaches.
  • Showers are available to wash the sand off (but it’s a good idea to bring an extra towel to wipe off dry sand before piling back into the car)
  • Lifeguards are on duty seasonally



$2.50 per hour for metered parking. Maximum 4 hours.

Tidepooling Heisler Park


Beach parking is on Cliff Drive. From PCH, you can turn on Beverly (where Husky Boy stands) or Myrtle, or Cliff (where Urth Caffe is situated). The pathway that leads to the beach is situated in front of the Myrtle-Cliff intersection.

Husky Boy 802 N. Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Urth Caffé 308 N. Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Pathway to Heisler Park


Daily, 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Heisler Park - Picnic Beach Laguna Beach


~Christine, blog contributor

About the Author
Christine is a writer, communications strategist, mom and OC native who absolutely does not like cheese in a can but does occasionally feel like a zombie.

Marina Park in Newport BeachIf you’ve spent any time in Newport or Balboa recently then you may have noticed the gorgeous new park that just opened between Newport Beach and Balboa Peninsula. It may surprise you, however, to learn that Marina Park actually sits right on Balboa Bay and is an ideal spot to take babies, toddlers, and big kids for a day at the beach!

Marina Park 2


  • Nautical-themed playground equipment.
  • Lighthouse slide with gorgeous views of the bay from the top. There was a sea lion swimming around the day we were there.
  • Educational information about the ocean and the role that humans play incorporated into the play structures.
  • The playground is right on the water so kids can easily divide their time between the water and playground.
  • Super calm water that is perfect for little ones that may be afraid of waves at other beaches. We spoke with the employees at the Community Center and they assured us that the water in the bay is clean and safe for kids.
  • There are four shaded picnic tables, two unshaded picnic tables, and a few benches around the playground. Or you can eat on the beach like we did!
  • Kids and adults can play basketball or participate in the fitness circuit around the Community Center.
  • Eat at the the Lighthouse Cafe in the community center for breakfast or lunch. The menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, and other delicious entrees.

Marina Park

Know before you go:

  • There are clean public bathrooms located in the lighthouse.
  • There is a shower right next to the lighthouse to rinse the sand off your kiddos.
  • Even if you don’t plan on having your kids go in the water bring a change of clothes… we saw a few kids run into the water fully clothed. It’s just so tempting!
  • Make sure you watch your children carefully… there are no lifeguards and little ones can make their way to the water quickly!
  • Bring towels, beach toys, beach chairs, and an umbrella because the park is right on the beach.
  • If you are looking for more of a “traditional beach” with waves you can walk across Balboa Blvd. and find a great one by the pier.
  • There’s a ton of construction happening in the area so be prepared for additional traffic on top of the typical beach traffic.

Working out at the Marina Park


1600 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, CA, 92663

Parking Information:

  • Plenty of nearby parking. There’s a large paid parking lot at the Community Center at Balboa Blvd. and 16th Street, a small lot on W. Balboa Blvd and 18th Street, additional parking around the corner on 18th Street along the bay. Parking at these locations is $1.75 per hour and you may not pay for fractions of an hour. The pay stations require you to input your license plate (or part of your VIN) and they do accept credit cards (including Amex).
  • Free street parking is available in areas along W. Balboa Blvd or smaller streets in the area. Depending on how much stuff you’re carrying you may be more or less motivated to pay for parking!


Marina Park 3

Kelly Rafter
Blog Contributor

About the Author
Kelly and her husband have two little boys, ages 3 and 5. She loves taking her boys on adventures around Southern California that focus on learning, getting their wiggles out, and having fun! When she isn’t fulfilling her mommy duties she teaches at a local community college and is an educational consultant.

Tide Pooling Shaw's CoveI love to go to the beach during the winter months to check out the beautiful tide pools. You don’t have to worry about the heat, the crowd or parking, so it really becomes an easy fun way to spend an afternoon with the kids.

I recently discovered the Shaw’s Cove tide pools in Laguna Beach and I really recommend you take the kids to check them out. Also, this beach is beautiful and secluded and it is definitely a perfect place to snorkel or swim during the summer months.

Tide Pooling (2)

How to get there:

The entrance of this beach is off of Cliff Drive and Fairview Street in Laguna Beach. You will see a stairway leading you down to the beach.

Entrance Shaw's Cove

What you should know:

  • Tide pools are located on both sides of the beach. You can’t miss them.
  • There aren’t any restrooms, so plan accordingly.
  • To get to the beach you have to walk some stairs. It is only a couple of minutes (or less), but I don’t recommend you take a stroller or a wagon with you.
  • In winter it is very easy to find street parking close to the entrance of the beach, but I can imagine that it might be difficult during the summer months.
  • Wear shoes when you check out the tide pools. My girl decided to take them off and cut her foot within seconds.
  • When you go see the tide pools you are supposed to check the tide report first. To be honest with you I never do, I just go and hope for the best. But in case you want to analyze the tide report before heading out, here it is.
  • Remember that you can not remove anything from the beach. So leave the animals, shells, rocks alone. You will go to prison if you remove them…well, I am not sure if they will actually take you to prison, but don’t chance it. Leave the beach alone for everyone to enjoy ;).
  • If you are visiting the Shaw’s Cove during a busier time of the year, you might want to consider taking their free shuttle which drops you off right in front of the beach entrance. Here is a map of the Laguna Beach Trolley’schedule . Note that they offer free parking on weekends at the Mission Hospital.

Laguna Beach Trolley'schedule

Shaw's Cove Beach