In this paper we demonstrate the design, fabrication, and characterization of a near-field photonic crystal nano-probe. By exploiting the ability of photonic crystals to strongly confine and guide light, we are able to produce optical spot sizes that are well below the diffraction limit. This offers in particular the advantage of higher resolution as compared to conventional optical probing techniques, while retaining the desirable features of speed, non-invasiveness, reliability, and low cost. Such a device has applications in scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM), nanolithography, high density optical data storage, and many other technologies. We describe the implementation of a photonic crystal device in the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) platform, as well as discuss progress being made in gallium-based alloys to further reduce the wavelength of operation and therefore the probe spot size.