Best Martini Hour

The best time to visit Crystal Cove is at sunset. But make sure you're on time for the Beachcomber's daily re-creation of a tradition first started by the cottage-dwelling locals decades ago: the raising of the restaurant's trademark martini flag, which, along with the blast of a bugle, announces the evening's happy hour. From the deck of the restaurant, you can watch the sun slip below the Pacific Ocean's horizon, setting the stage for the starriest night you can find in Orange County, thanks to the lack of ambient, man-made lighting anywhere near the beach. Park across Pacific Coast Highway at the Los Trancos parking lot, then take a $1 shuttle to the beach, or walk downhill through a tunnel; the restaurant is on the right, just before you hit the water.

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