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Favorite Orange County beaches

Beyond Orange County

Favorite Orange County beaches

[disclaim]Guest post by Justine Burgess[/disclaim]

It’s mid- summer and with school starting soon, this is a great time to be sure the kids get in some beach play. It can also be the perfect place for a romantic walk with your significant other while the kids explore ahead. We share some of our favorite Orange County beaches today, in hopes that they’ll soon become a favorite of yours too.

best Orange County beaches

When we go to the beach, we seek out an interesting place where we can avoid crowds and park cheaply or free as well. Our favorite beaches in SoCal are Little Corona and the secluded coves below Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. My son LOVES tidepools, which these beaches have, plus the waves tend to be family-friendly sizes.

You can see this!
sea anemone
sea urchin
hermit crabs
Without having to shell out the clams to go to an aquarium.
favorite Orange County beaches

Most beach areas have at least some free street parking. You just need to find it. Free street parking can be had near Little Corona along Ocean Blvd and the adjacent residential areas, though it is a tight squeeze on weekends. Laguna has very limited street parking along Cliff Drive; most coastal parking near Heisler Park and Main Beach is metered at $2 an hour (bring quarters or credit cards). If you’re willing to take a little jaunt (and get some exercise in the bargain) metered parking in the shopping areas near Main Beach in Laguna runs $1/hr. You might even find a rare non-metered area.

Egret at orange county

Crystal Cove has even more stunning tidepools, plus great hiking trails, but street parking is severely limited and far away. If you have $15 (per car) for lot parking and plan to spend several hours, it’s totally worth it. Keep in mind, the tidepools are a designated Marine Reserve area. Don’t remove any animals or shells from the area, and wear shoes- the rocks are sharp. Please step carefully to avoid squishing anything. Check low tide times for the best viewing experience.


Things to remember when you head out for your day of frolic:

  • Sunscreen. apply before you even leave the house. Reapply often. Coppertone Water Babies is one of my go-to sunscreens- it stays on well, plus it comes in a range of different SPF’s (also, my son seems to have a crush on the Coppertone girl). Load up on samples when you can- free, and easy to bring to the beach.
  • Sand toys. don’t buy expensive packs of them. Hit up the dollar store (or better yet, the thrift store) for the uber-cheapies. If they get broken or lost, you probably won’t care. I bought a bag of 25 from our local Lutheran thrift for $1.00. And good thing- the first thing my four-year-old did was bury a few. Good thing I’m an anthropologist. You can also bring things like empty plastic yogurt containers in various sizes and shapes- perfect for little hands, and then rather than rinse, just toss them in the nearest recycling bin when you’re done.
  • Baby powder, talcum powder, or cornstarch. use it whisk away all that sand stuck to skin! Sprinkle it on all the sand-covered spots and then use a towel to wipe it all off. The sand should come off much more easily.
  • Towels. lots of towels. Because, they will get really, really sandy.
  • Pack water and light snacks. Think individually wrapped go-gurt, string cheese, granola bars (hold by the wrappers to keep the sand off) and fruit.
  • Pack light. Water, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and towels, all in a backpack.
  • Shoes. If you can find some cheap (but good) water shoes, get them. They’ll protect little feet from the hot sand (because can you carry all your stuff AND a 45 pound preschooler?) and any sharp shells, glass, or rocks.

One final thought- make sure an adult or responsible teen is a designated water-watcher. Even if the kids are just wading around, a sudden wave could knock them over. Better yet, go in the water with them. One of my best memories is my dad taking me through the waves in Santa Monica. He’d have me piggyback, I’d hang onto his neck, then he’d grab my feet tightly, and off we’d go. Pure summer fun.

Originally published on August 3, 2012. Last Updated on April 20, 2017 by Pattie Cordova



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