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Have you ever looked at old photos of the California Coast and wished you could go back in time, if only for a brief vintage vacation?

Not only do Newport’s Crystal Cove Beach Cottages offer such an experience, but they offer it at an affordable price. This property has been slowly and lovingly restored to its original decor, some of which dates back to 1935.

Crystal Cove Beach Cottages

You’ll find the cottages at Crystal Cove State Park, which is located off the Pacific Coast Highway between Corona Del Mar and Laguna Beach. The park itself offers plenty of activities like hiking, exploring tidepools and traveling back in time through the Historic District, which is where you’ll find the Crystal Cove Beach Cottages. The Historic District is a 12.3 acre coastal oasis nestled around the mouth of Los Trancos Creek. Since 1979, it has been on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Originally constructed as a movie set and then a seaside colony in the 1930s and 1940s, the cluster of Crystal Cove Beach Cottages is one of the last remaining examples of early 20th century Southern California coastal development. The community thrived because of its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and its beautiful setting. There are now 14 individual cottages and 10 dorm-style private rooms for rent, so guests can choose the kind of experience they’d like to have.

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Guests in the dorm-style cottages each have their own private locking bedrooms, and some have private bathrooms. The rest of the rooms are shared: kitchens, common living areas and communal bathrooms. Upon your arrival, you’ll be given linens and towels, and the kitchens have disposable plates and utensils. For those who want a more private experience, the individual cottages are a great options. They’re each authentically furnished and themed to reflect their distinctive history.

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The Soda Shack, a charming one bedroom cottage with a kitchen, dates back to 1935 and served as the Cove’s snack shack and soda fountain until 1950. Its interior wood paneling and colorful decor help it retain a vintage vibe. The Romantic Retreat was originally built in 1938, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides and original tiling in the bathroom and kitchen. All of the cottages have stunning water views.

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You might think that all seaside lodging, no matter how rustic, will have sky-high prices. But the dorm-style cottage rooms rent for as low as $36, while the individual cottages start at $179. Limited housekeeping services are offered for the individual cottages, and parking is included, though you’ll have to get a permit. There are two options for dining on the property: Ruby’s Shake Shack and the Beachcomber Cafe, which is located right on the beach.

Staying at the Crystal Cove Cottages is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And needless to say, it’s a popular destination. Reservations are competitive but not as difficult as they used to be. The new system allows reservations every day starting at 8 AM for the same date six months in the future and each room or cottage can be booked for up to a week starting on that date. Every now and then there will be a room available sooner than 6 months so check it often!

Book a cottage now and enjoy a retreat to days gone by.