A short walk from the bustling downtown Laguna Beach, this park is an amazing hidden oasis. The grassy bluff and the sandy beach with giant rocks and hidden caves makes this park a favorite spot for photographers, sunset watchers, picnickers, and even sea birds. There are also a variety of art stands selling local artwork.
Crystal Cove State Park spans 3.2 miles (5.15 kilometers) of beach and over 2000 acres (809.37 hectares) of wilderness. Visitors to the park can relax on the beach, hike or go horseback riding on the many trails that criss-cross the verdant landscape. Explore tide pools and hidden coves as well as canyon flora and fauna. Finally, the crystal clear waters have been designated as an underwater park and are great for scuba diving, skin diving, and underwater photography, thus covering all aspects of outdoor exploration.
The area is 900 acres (364 hectares) of estuary, marsh, and coastal sage scrub habit, and it is home to several endangered bird species. Seventy species of fish use the bay and during winter migration thousands of shorebirds and ducks either visit or spend the winter here. Kayak, canoe, walking and electric boat tours are offered and a state of the art Interpretive Center is located at 2301 University Dr., Newport Beach.
For those who can make only one stop in Corona del Mar, make it the Corona del Mar State Beach. This area alone can make everyone fall in love with CdM, a laid-back multi-million-dollar neighborhood accented by the Pacific, with streets lined by palm trees and flower beds. On the bluff, three signs mark beach access: Lookout Point, Main Beach and Inspiration Point. Each point has a different view, but all share Catalina Island in the background, and Newport Bay and Balboa Island in the foreground. A few steps towards the south end of Ocean Boulevard is a secluded cove near the Robert E. Badham Marine Life Refuge, and some of the most extravagant mansions follow.
The Environmental Nature Center is a must-visit for every nature lovers touring Newport Beach. It’s a beautiful attraction lined with native plants and trees where several bird species dwell. A getaway for birding enthusiasts as well as those who love hiking, the center is a perfect break from city noises. It is dedicated to teaching children as well as adults about sustainable development and waste management, in addition to other subjects that aid in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
The heart of the Balboa Peninsula, the Balboa village is one of the most visited attractions of Newport Beach. A perfect place for a day out with family and friends, the village has a plethora of activities on offer. It’s lined with some of the best restaurants in the city, to get you fuled up for the day. There are attractions like the Fun Zone for children, while adults can indulge in one of the many boat tours that are organized here. The village also hosts a number of events every year.
Main Beach is probably the most photographed, and definitely the most visited beach in the city. Right in downtown, the location could not be more convenient. Most of the local attractions and popular eateries are within walking distance. While admiring the azure waters and sunbathing is the most popular activity, the beach park itself has a bunch of facilities such as volleyball and basketball areas, picnic tables, a children's play area, and protected tide pools where you can enjoy some of the cleanest water on the Pacific coast.
While in Laguna Beach, be sure to visit the oceanfront gallery of Wyland, an artist well-known for his paintings of marine life. Nicknamed the "Marine Michelangelo," the first thing you'll be amazed by is the variety of mediums used in his art. Murals are seen on the exterior walls while bronze sculptures loom over the front entrance. The inside overflows with even more: Lucite sculptures, acrylic sculptures, oil paintings, abstract art, brush art, photographs, bronze tables, portholes and mirrors.
The panoramic view of the wilderness and the Pacific from Hortense Miller Garden is second to none. Yet, the view is not quite what makes it a treasure of Laguna Beach. It is the character of the garden and the house that reflects Hortense Miller's love of nature. The garden spreads across 2.5 acres on the upper slope of Boat Canyon, and has over 1500 plant species that grow with limited usage of fertilizers and chemical controls. In the middle of the garden, a simple but elegant house that is wrapped with floor-to-ceiling glass, quietly enjoys the company of its best decorator: nature. Reservations for the tour should be made at least two weeks in advance. Donations are appreciated.
Cress Street Beach is a popular beach destination for both locals and tourists. The beach is great for surfing and body-boarding when the waves are strong. However, during gentle waves, experienced swimmers can also go snorkeling or scuba diving as there is an exposed coral reef close to the shoreline. There are also some interesting rock formations on the beach that children love to climb. The best time to visit is during sunset when the crowds thin down and you can enjoy the marvelous views in solitude.
This sandy stretch lies sprawled at the foot of the Surf and Sand Hotel, and is a popular choice amongst locals and hotel guests craving a leisurely stroll by the water. Bluebird Beach derives its name from the bluebirds that are often spotted here and at the canyon nearby. Since surfing is not really an option here, the beach is frequented instead by body-surfers, sun-bathers and casual swimmers. In the evening, the setting sun sets the ocean and skies ablaze in a myriad of colors, attracting artists who are drawn by the natural beauty of this tranquil scene. Bluebird Beach can be accessed via a ramp near the intersection of South Coast Highway and Bluebird Canyon Drive.