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 Cottage 22 which offers great activities for the kids. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize they were closing at 2:30pm so I didn’t make it in time, but I was told that they have binoculars for the kids to look for marine mammals, microscopes to examine plankton, and stations to measure the seawater quality
  • 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.

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


  • Most activities are held between 10am and 4pm on Wednesdays.
  • Cottage 22 is open between 11:30am and 2:30pm on Wednesdays.


  • 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.


I have never visited this beach because parking is $15 and it is the only parking option you have.  But I found out that if you purchase food at the beach for a value of $15 or more they comp the parking. Since I like spending money on food much better than on parking, I got 4 ice creams and a drink…and the parking was free! So the cost of this outing was $15 plus gasoline!


  • 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 (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, got the car, and then picked them 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 to see a map.

Visit to the Ocean Institute

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If you are looking for something fun to do with the kids on Sunday, pay a visit to the Ocean Institute, then take an interactive tour of the tall ship Pilgrim and lastly have a nice picnic and playtime on the beach….and you can do all this without moving the car once. Here are the details of this fantastic family outing:

Visit to the Ocean Institute

The Ocean Institute is fairly small but they have lots of activities so you can easily spend 3 hours in it, if not more.

They have a touch tank, a shark and ray pool, a jelly fish station, a microscope station, and many other ocean animals to observe. They also have amazing activities throughout the day. The best one was the squid dissection. Both my kids got to open up a squid, find several body parts, dissect the eyes, and write with the squid ink! I know it might sound yucky but my kids loved it! They also had octopus and Moon Jelly feeding and other activities. And don’t forget to ask for a scavenger hunt sheet at the front desk.

Also you should know that last year the Ocean Institute opened a new exhibit, the Headlands and Beyond, which includes a tank with local sea creatures, an interactive globe, ROV touchscreen, experiments, and a children’s playscape. They also opened the Maddie James Seaside Learning center which you can tour at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm.

Visit to the Pilgrim

On Sundays the admission fee includes the tour of the Pilgrim a full size replica of an early nineteenth century ship. The tour guide, dressed up in period costume, made the tour real fun and educational for everyone. The tours are on a first come, first served basis and are offered between 10am and 2:30pm. You can sign up at the front desk once you get there.


The Baby beach is right next to the Ocean Institute. This beach is perfect for younger kids since the ocean is completely flat. It is a small beach and it can get pretty crowded on Sundays, but I still like it since I can relax and not worry about my kids getting taken by a wave. This beach has restrooms, showers, picnic tables, BBQs, and a large grassy area with lots of shade. Lots of people like to rent a paddle board. It costs $25 per hour so it is quite expensive but you can split the cost and share it with a friend.

If you prefer a “regular” beach, you can find one right behind the Ocean Institute. You can access it by walking on the right side of their building. This beach also has great tide pooling.


Park at the Ocean Institute for free. Don’t even try to get a parking spot closer to the beach, it is almost impossible. Just use their parking lot and leave your car there until you are ready to go home. The Ocean Institute’s parking lot is right next to the beach parking lot, so don’t worry about having to walk too far. 


24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Dana Point, CA, 92629

Weekend Hours

Weekends from 10am to 3pm. Tours of the Pilgrim are only offered on Sundays.

Weekend Cost:

$7.50 for ages 2-12
$10 for ages 13+

Free for children under 2.

For more information about the Ocean Institute, click here


During the week you can visit the Headlands and Beyond exhibit and the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center for $5. It is open Monday through Friday from 10am and 4pm.

Beaches in Orange County

Maruska —  July 6, 2015

Beaches in Orange CountySummer is here, so I decided to compare several main Orange County beaches to see which one might interest OC families. Here is what I found so far:

1. Beaches with fire rings: Aliso Beach, Corona Del Mar, Balboa, Huntington State, Capistrano, Doheny, Bolsa Chica and San Clemente

2. Beaches with playgrounds: Aliso Beach, Balboa Beach, Laguna Beach Main Beach, Seal Beach, 

3. Beaches with “no waves” for little ones: Corona Del Mar Little Beach and Baby Beach

4. Beaches with bike path: Crystal Cove, Huntington State, Bolsa Chica, Seal Beach

5. Beaches good for tide pooling: Crystal Cove, Corona Del Mar Little Beach, Laguna Beach Main Beach , Salt Creek Beach, Doheny

6. Beaches good for body surfing: Crystal Cove, Balboa Beach, Laguna Beach Main Beach , Huntington State, Salt Creek, Bolsa Chica, and San Clemente.

To get details about the beaches above, click here.