4 Budget Beach Escapes

The rustic state park cottage has gone upscale―just in time for deal-seeking travelers.

State Park Cabin Rentals

Shelley Metcalf

Cabin Fever

A state park cabin used to be one step up from camping. The location might be perfect, and the price a steal, but the accommodations? A little rough around the edges. Recently, though, several states have brought new style to their beachfront parks. The result: a coastal getaway that won’t break the bank.

Left: Crystal Cove Beach Cottages

State Park Cabin Rentals

Shelley Metcalf

Crystal Cove State Park, California

Hollywood’s elite once flocked to Newport Beach for weekend getaways. Now you can do the same. This park developed an historic district with updated beachfront bungalows built between the 1920s and ’50s.

State Park Cabin Rentals

Roger Davies

Crystal Cove State Park, California

More than a dozen individual and dorm-style cottages have been restored and can be rented from as little as $60 per couple per night; crystalcovebeachcottages.com.

State Park Cabin Rentals

Brit Huckabay

Gulf State Park, Alabama

This park opened 11 upscale three-bed, three-bath cottages. Fill one up and the cost can be less than $35 per person per night. The best part? You’re not roughing it. Furnishings come from Pottery Barn. TVs have built-in DVD/VCR players and satellite service. Plus, no arguing over who gets the top bunk. You’ll only find queen-size beds.

State Park Cabin Rentals

Brit Huckabay

Gulf State Park, Alabama

Cottages range from $212 to $237 per night. Each has an equipped kitchen, two screened porches, and a lakefront deck, with the Gulf’s sandy shores just a few minutes away; 251/948-7275 or alapark.com/gulfstate/cottages.

State Park Cabin Rentals

Courtesy of Cama Beach State Park

Cama Beach State Park, Washington

The Evergreen State went retro in 2008, refurbishing a 1930s-era Puget Sound fishing resort and reopening it as a new park.

State Park Cabin Rentals

Courtesy of Cama Beach State Park

Cama Beach State Park, Washington

Its waterfront cedar cabins and bungalows are basic―a few lack private baths―but they’re oh-so-cute. The park also offers beach walks, kids’ crafts, boatbuilding classes and rentals. Rates range from $69 to $174 per night during the summer; 360/387-1550 or parks.wa.gov/camabeach.

State Park Cabin Rental

Courtesy of Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park, Virginia

The southern tip of the Eastern Shore has always had scenery aplenty. Now it has five family lodges, each sleeping as many as 16.

A summer weekly rental runs $2,337 for out-of-state visitors (less for Virginians). Fill it up for a family reunion, and it comes out to less than $25 per person per day; 800/933-7277 or dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks.

Published August 2009; Updated December 2013

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