30 miles south from Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, which proudly sits in the heart of Disneyland, lies another, less heralded tower.
Nestled on the side of a cliff on Victoria Beach, rests a 60-foot tower, known to many locals as the “Pirate Tower.”
History of the Tower
Built in 1926 for the family of William E. Brown, a state senator representing California’s 37th District, the rocket like structure served as a gateway to and from Brown’s home on top of the cliff.
In a report written by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, “the architecture of the house and tower are closely interwoven with the natural precipitous quality of the cliffs.” The report adds: “The style on both is outstanding. The house rightfully serves as one of Laguna’s landmark homes.”
At some point in the 1940s, the property was sold to Harold Kendrick, a retired Naval officer from Los Angeles. Kendrick was known to regularly dress up as a pirate and hide coins in and around the tower for neighborhood kids to find. Hence, the structure’s nickname as the “Pirate Tower” of Victoria Beach.
Over the years, ownership of the house and the tower have shifted hands multiple times, including most recently to Hollywood legend Bette Midler.
How to Get to the Tower
- Park along Pacific Coast Highway. The closest cross-streets on PCH are Nyes Place and Upland Rd. While the official address of Victoria Beach is 2713 Victoria Dr., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, the only public parking is along PCH. Unfortunately, parking on PCH is metered with a rate of $1.50 per hour.
- Depending on where you park, you have the option of a few different streets to turn into in order to head toward the only entrance to the beach–a “blink and you miss it” stairway at Sunset Terrace and Victoria Drive. Another two streets–McAulay Place and Nyes Place (which intersects Victoria Drive) will also lead you to the stairway.
- Head down the stairway and try not to panic because you don’t see the tower anywhere. Don’t worry, you’re not at the wrong beach! Head to your right around a group of rocks once you reach the base of the steps.
- And you’re there! If you plan on posting any pictures on Instagram, I assure you that no filters will be needed, and tag us at #ocexplore to show off your shots.
Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Visit to the Tower
- If you want a close up view of the tower, you’ll want to visit the beach during low tide for easier access. Typically by 5 p.m. the tower is inaccessible due to the high tides.
- The earlier the better. Although this beach remains unknown to even many locals, the location is quickly growing in popularity and can become quite crowded later in the afternoon.
- As tempting as “free parking” is, do NOT park in the neighborhood streets near the stairway. The streets are regularly patrolled.
- If you are bringing kids, be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty.
- Portions of PCH have no sidewalks on one side of the street so the walk to and from the beach can become tricky at times.