Lose yourself while exploring the mountainous sand dunes of California's Ocean Dunes Recreation Area. Located at the southern end of the region, the towering dunes of soft white sand stretch from Pismo Beach ten miles down the coast.
Bike Montana de Oro State Park's Bluff trail for Pacific views at their best. Located 20 miles west of San Luis Obispo, this trail is an easy, three-mile loop that affords views of the Pacific tidal pools and cliffs and, depending on the season, offers opportunities for whale watching.
Camp around Big Sur? It can be done. Head to the family-friendly walk-ins of Andrew Molera State Park. The park's primitive campgrounds offer easy access to beautiful coastal terrain and opportunities for fishing, swimming, hiking, and always-popular otter sightings.
If redwoods are more your style, head to the Ventana campgrounds, 28 miles south of Carmel. This primitive campsite is split by a small creek and offers access to both local waterfalls and its own stretch of the Pacific coast.
Explore the 5,300-square-mile Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. Sea kayaking on sheltered Monterey Bay is the perfect introduction to both sea paddling and the coastal Californian ecosystem. Not a paddler? Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium or head to Moss Landing, where companies offer half-day cruises led by nature guides.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication