Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

#2 in Best Things To Do in Monterey
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve picture
Don DeBold/Flickr

Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.8

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

South of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve receives praise from almost everyone who visits. The dramatic rock formations rising from the ocean have most visitors gawking, while the cute creatures like pocket gopher and the southern sea otter keep the nature-lovers smiling. The reserve's 13 trails offer hikers both easy and challenging opportunities. The Cypress Grove Trail is especially popular due to its views of the rugged coast and the gnarled Monterey cypress trees that perch precariously on the seaside cliffs.

If you like to dive, you're in luck. Point Lobos has 10 diving spots where you can swim through 70-foot-high kelp forests and various coral reefs. If you're lucky, you may catch site of passing seals and whales.

Parking inside the reserve costs $10, but many travelers park outside of it along Highway 1 and walk in for free (though a $1 donation is recommended). Visitors are welcome from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, check out the Point Lobos Foundation's website.

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Time to Spend
#1 Carmel-by-the-Sea

Located south of Monterey and Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a humble seaside village with a few small shops and cafes -- at least that's the cover story. In truth, this pricey town has plenty of designer stores, gourmet eateries and upscale art galleries that cater to its wealthy residents (like Clint Eastwood). You'll find most shoppers and diners around picturesque Ocean Avenue, which leads to Carmel Beach.

Many forego the town's activities in favor of catching some rays on the expansive dog-friendly beach. Recent visitors recommend taking a long walk along the shore at sunset or sunrise. For more information about Carmel-by-the-Sea, check out the town's website.

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