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2/18/19 to 2/22/19 Crystal Cove State Park, Moro Campground, Laguna Beach CA

Highlights: Mission at San Juan Capistrano, Newport Beach, San Clemente, Balboa Island, Dana Point, Laguna Beach;

Campground: Site 15; E/W Hookups; 38' max. The CG is east of coastal highway CA-1.All sites are back in with backs facing the ocean. The campground is on a hill and the roads tiered – much like a drive-in theater – so everyone has a view of the Pacific over the roof of the trailer below you. This is a popular CG. Came to $77/night. Typical high priced CA SP.

Catalina Island by sunset

A side road within the campground leads to a parking lot for beach access. A walking trail and tunnel under CA-1 leads to the beach. The parking lot also gives access to hiking trails.

These are everywhere along this part of the coast.

Moro Campground is one part of the larger Crystal Cove State Park. There looks to be extensive hiking trails.

Crystal Cove SP's Reef Point is a large day-use area a half mile north of the campground. There is a large parking area with a few steep hiking trails from the bluff to a nice beach below. The views are great extending all the way to Santa Catalina Island.

Reef Point from Google Maps

Osprey with jetliner

Uh oh! getting chased.

A day trip north to Calafia SP just north of San Clemente State Park where there is a large popular campground. The San Clemente Pedestrian Beach Trail hugs a thin strip of sand beneath bluffs precariously supporting (or not) million dollar houses. Between the trail and the beach is a rail line.

It is a 1 ½ mile walk to the San Clemente Pier where there is a restaurant and rest rooms. The beach expands here and provides plenty of space for beach goers.

A day trip south to the town and beach of Laguna Beach was underwhelming. The beachfront has a nice enough park with a curving boardwalk, and the life guard station sets a nice feeling of 1950's-60's beach movies. But, it also had a somewhat depressed look with a significant number of young homeless persons hanging around (not totally untypical for beaches south of LA). Sandy remembers the pigeon man – a more common site in urban parks back east - feeding and covered with pigeons. We had a unmemorable lunch in town.

A much more pleasant trip was heading north to the Balboa Peninsula on the coast of Newport Beach. The peninsula extends from the north side of Newport Beach and parallels the coast framing Newport Bay. It is mostly residential along the northern half of he beach. Halfway down is pubic access and parking for the Newport Beach Pier and the beachfront.

Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island - Google Maps

Ruby's at the end of the pier

From the Pier, it is only a 5 block walk to a beach-touristy shopping/dining area along the bay side. An enjoyable walk with a few lunch options.

A row of these cute boat are line up outside what appears to be condos or townhouses. Each one is decorated uniquely. What a fun (and exclusive) club this is!

Or you can go with something larger

A map will show Jetty Park at the southern end of the peninsula, but there is no parking lot. The best bet is just to park at the Pier for all options in this area.

The most fun on the day was taking the little 2-vehicle ferry to tiny residential Balboa Island. We barely fit in our 20' long truck. The ferry scurried across the bay at quite an angle against the tide. It cost $2 for driver and vehicle and a $1 per passenger! It took less than 5 minutes and was so much fun and unique that I highly recommend it.

On Balboa Island there is one village type shopping area on Marina Ave. A canal is a block away and we walked there to enjoy the houses and atmosphere along it.

Yelping lunch options, we chose the Daily Chow for one of their gourmet hot dogs! Yes!

Also on the street is Sugar 'n' Spice, “Home of the original frozen banana.” I guess it's a local thing.

Mission at San Juan Capistrano

This is a wonderful day trip north of San Clemente (and south of the campground). Beautiful and historic mission.

Within a few blocks are great dining and a few shops. Particularly interesting is the quaint historic little Los Rios Street. A preserved dozen or so houses some of which contain owner occupied shops.

We had a wonderful lunch at the Five Vines Wine Bar. They have an upscale outdoor patio with fireplace that was slightly marred by a downpour. Everyone raced inside where the staff did as good a job as could be expected in re-seating everyone indoors. We had a little wait, but enjoyed everything.

Dana Point. We stopped here with our trailer on our way to the campground. It is between San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. A wonderful walk can be had by giong down Dana Point Harbor Drive and taking in the massive Dana Park Marina. Plenty of boats to see and a few waterfront dining options. Just north of the marina is headlands conservation area, which we didn't visit because of time.

Lunch with a view


Note that Laguna Beach was as close to the traffic of LA as we wanted to get, so we chose Joshua Tree as our next destination. From there we traveled north of the Los Angeles Mountains to Santa Clarita and then west to pick up the coast again all the way to Portland Oregon.

Map from TripAdvisor the route planning app I use

Till next time...


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