Crown Memorial State Beach looking towards San Francisco. The city, the bay bridge and the conning tower of the USS Hornet are visible in the background.
The park's Crab Cove Visitor Center features exhibits about the marine life environment of San Francisco Bay, the history of Alameda, and the importance of the Bay. There is an 800-gallon aquarium system with interactive stations for viewing sea creatures up close. Naturalists offer programs for schools and other groups, and weekend nature programs and lectures.
Between 1917 and the start of World War II, the area around the visitor center was part of Neptune Beach, an amusement park and resort community that featured bathing spas and waterfront houses. During World War II, the site was used as a training base for Merchant Marine commanders. The park was subsequently known as "Alameda Memorial Beach" until it was renamed for a local politician, Assemblyman Robert W. Crown who was struck and killed by a vehicle while running (jaywalking). The current visitor center building was used as the base infirmary.
The visitor center's current exhibits opened in 2004. The beach is a popular destination for birdwatchers in the fall and winter. Sea birds such as grebes, ducks, and loons are viewed. Most of the beach received a grade of A or B for year-round water quality in 2010.