Of all the places we have stayed, I probably get the most questions about the Crystal Cove Beach Cottages. These historic beach front cottages, built in the 1930s and 1940s, are located at Crystal Cove State Park admist 3.2 miles of undeveloped coastline in Newport Beach. A few of these historic cottages were renovated and reopened in 2006, and can be booked for stay through Reserve California. Depending on the accommodation type (they range from 2 person dorm room with shared bathroom, to private cottages that can accommodate up to 9), the price per night ranges from $38 to $269 with a $7.99 reservation fee. It is important to note that unlike most other camping reservations, no reservation modifications are accepted for Crystal Cove Beach Cottages and cancellations must be made 7 days prior to arrival. You can find more FAQs here. The Crystal Cove Conservancy is working on raising money to restore the remaining 17 cottages on the North Beach, so hopefully there will be several more cottages available for public booking in the future!
These cottages are extremely high demand, and seem to get completely booked out once reservations open up (6 months in advance). If you would like to stay in one of these cottages: 1) try your luck at 8 am when online bookings open for 6 months out at Reserve California, 2) check the calendar often to see if a spot opens up through a cancellation during the time you would like to visit, 3) sometimes a same day cottage may become available, but you must show up to the office that day at 11am and enter a lottery to try your luck at getting one.
Don’t get discouraged if you really want to stay in one of these cottages – be persistent and keep on trying/ checking! To put things in perspective, I have gotten six bookings in seven years of trying. I have never successfully booked a cottage 6 months out despite being ready at my computer at 7:59:55 to 8:01:00, nor have I tried the same day lottery. We live locally, so we have the flexibility to book something that opens up at the last-minute. It seems for the most part, weekday and dorm type reservations open up on cancellation most often. If you are flexible and can visit during the week, your chances to stay in a cottage will be higher. There are also some specifically designated handicap accessible cabins available for those who have a valid handicap placard.
Even if you aren’t staying at one of the Crystal Cove Beach Cottages, the historic district is a great place to visit for the day. This is our go-to local beach and state park for exploring, hiking, tide pooling, wakeboarding, and picnicking (they have several picnic tables for public use) . Another fun activity that you can do at Crystal Cove park is to gather some friends and family, and rent a firepit.
Another way to stay overnight near the beach is to book a camping spot at Crystal Cove State Park’s Moro Campground. Each campsite has an ocean view! This is one of our favorite campsites in Southern California, and can also be booked on Reserve California 6 months in advance.