Archives For Beaches

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If you are looking for something fun to do with the kids on Wednesdays, I have something for you. This outing was a great combination of activities: beach, tide pooling, crafts, painting, board games, and a visit to a couple of historic cottages including cottage 22, the park and marine research facility.


  • The Education Commons at the Crystal Cove State Park’s Historic District comes to life every Wednesday with free art classes, historical games, sea glass wrapping, dance classes, a water coloring station, board games and more!
  • Activities vary each Wednesday but it seems that the sea glass wrapping (see picture), which is my favorite activity, is held every week.
  • Make sure to visit Marine Research Facility. They have binoculars for the kids to look for marine mammals, microscopes to examine plankton, stations to learn about Abalone, and more. 
  • There is also a great tide pool area on the left side of the beach for everyone to explore.
  • We probably spent one hour and a half enjoying the activities and tide pooling.
  • All the activities are free.
  • By the way, Ruby’s Shake Shack is walking distance from the beach. You just need to walk up the stairs close to the Beachcomber

For more information about the activities at the Education Commons activities, click here.


  • Most activities are held between 10am and 4pm on Wednesdays during the summer months.
  • The Marine Research Facility is only open between 11:30am and 2:30pm.


  • I have been told that the other beaches in Crystal Cove are more secluded but I picked this beach so that we could enjoy activities other than sunbathing and swimming.
  • The Historic District is also one of the beaches with the best body surfing and the best swimming area.
  • The Beachcomber café is at this beach as well, but make sure to make reservations if you want to eat there.
  • I opted for their Beachcomber Express that offers snacks, hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, and more! No reservations needed here.
  • So overall this beach gets a big thumbs up from me.


Activities are free. Parking is $15 and it is the only parking option you have.  If you purchase food at the beach for a value of $15 or more they comp the parking for three hours. Each additional hour after the 3 hours will cost $5.00 per hour up to a maximum of $15.00 per day.


  • Park at the Los Trancos parking lot located on the east side of PCH. Park as close as you can to the “Beach Access” sign.
  • To get to the beach you can take a shuttle for $1.50 (12 and under are free).
  • You can also easily walk to the beach. The path to the beach is all paved (no steps) and downhill and it takes you less than 5 minutes to get there. Coming back is a different story because the kids are tired and now it is all uphill. So I left the kids with my friend, took the shuttle, got the car, and then picked the kids up right next to the beach at their drop off area. You can obviously use the drop off area when you get there as well.


The address is 8471 Pacific Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651. To help you locate the Los Trancos Lot, click here.

Looking for a free outing this summer? Hop on the “Summer Breeze” bus in Irvine, take it into Laguna Beach, ride a trolley to Shaw’s Cove for the tidepools, then hop back on the trolley to walk around town or grab a bite to eat before taking the bus back. All for free! 


  • Summer Breeze is up and running! Park off the 133/405 and take the bus into Laguna Beach for free! 
  • The free parking lot is where the 133 and 405 meet in Irvine. There are lots of signs directing you there and you can see the lot from both freeways 
  • If you’re following our trip schedule, you’ll want to take the North bound Coastal Trolley from the Laguna Beach Transit Center once the bus lets you off at the Transit Center.
  • Exit the Trolley at Shaw’s Cove for amazing tidepooling (the trolley drivers are all very friendly… you just need to call out to them that you’re getting off when they announce Shaw’s Cove). It’s about 5 stops from the transit center. 
  • Walk down the long steps to the beach and then to the right for excellent tidepools.
  • We went tidepooling at around noon and saw a ton of animals including sea anemones, hermit crabs, sea slugs, fish, and crabs of all shapes and sizes. 
  • After you are done visiting the tidepools, take a south bound Trolley back into town. You’ll pass Main Beach and want to exit at Broadway and PCH to walk around town. There are lots of restaurants and shops. You can also pack a picnic and have lunch on Main Beach or play on the playground there. Our 5 and 7 year olds loved the Kush Fine Art Gallery in town. It’s at the corner of PCH and Forest Avenue and is free. The curators were very welcoming and friendly. 
  • Once you’ve seen enough of the town, head back to the Laguna Beach Transit Center and catch a bus back to Irvine. Remember they arrive every half hour so budget your time accordingly. 

Know Before You Go:

  • The Summer Breeze bus only runs on weekends through September 3rd
  • Summer Breeze busses run on the hour and half hour starting at 11 AM until midnight on Saturday and Sunday
  • There is a docent that may greet you and give you information about the tidepools once you get to the rocks. He or she can show you some awesome marine life. 
  • Remember to check the tide schedule. You’ll want to go at low tide for the best viewing.
  • There are NO bathrooms at Shaw’s Cove beach so plan accordingly! There are portable bathrooms at the bus stop in Irvine and possibly at the Transit Center. There are also bathrooms at Main Beach. 

Kelly, Blog Contributor

About the Author
Kelly and her husband have two boys, ages 5 and 7. 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 elementary school and community college. 

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.