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Top park recommendations from locals

Park
“This area of Monterey California includes Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places in the world and Point Lobos is no exception. Truthfully this is what I consider a taste of Big Sur without the hour drive. You'll find nature at its finest natural forests that kiss breathtaking seascapes. Tip: your absolutely welcome to pay to enter the State's Parks fees for parking on the parks limited car count. Or simply park off HWY 1 and walk in. Just before you arrive at the Ranger's Station outpost booth. Take a right onto the trail that is designated towards the scenic headlands view of the bay of ocean. That's protected from the wind. This is a fantastic walk and spectacular views of the Ocean. ”
  • 133 locals recommend
Trail
“Located 15 min from Treetops, Garland Ranch Regional Park in Carmel Valley is a popular spot for leisure hiking. Breathtaking views lie around every corner of this 4,462-acre park, with trails varying from easy to strenuous. Notable features at Garland Ranch Regional Park include the Carmel River, Garzas Creek, a redwood canyon and a charming waterfall. Historic buildings dot Garland Ranch Regional Park, allowing visitors to experience Carmel Valley as it once was.”
  • 65 locals recommend
Park
“This is the perfect little beach for small children. The water is very calm. There are nearby public bathrooms. You can also rent wetsuits and kayaks at the Adventures by the Sea shack located at Lover's Point.”
  • 49 locals recommend
Playground
“Highly recommended - A great giant playground for children, there is even an old steam engine they can climb on.”
  • 25 locals recommend
Park
“Perfect for a day trip, explore the park on one of the many beautiful hiking trails.”
  • 17 locals recommend
Park
“Located 15 min from downtown Carmel on the way to Big Sur, Garrapata State Park has walking trails, colorful cliffs, crashing waves and scenic overlooks. Don't leave valuables in your car and be watchful of slippery rocks/walkways.”
  • 15 locals recommend
Park
“Located 53-min (36miles) south of Carmel in Big Sur, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is 12 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on California's Pacific coast. A main feature of the park is McWay Falls, which drops over a cliff of 80 feet into the Pacific Ocean. The park is also home to 300-foot redwoods which are over 2,500 years old. Check ahead to make sure roads to Big Sur are open and that the Park is open to visitors. Note, like all places in Big Sur, this is a remote area and this Park has rugged walkways and trails. Don't stand on rocks/boulders along the waterline and stay out of the ocean and away from the waterline as fatally dangerous water conditions can exist. There is almost no cellphone service or internet service in and around the Big Sur area. Do not travel alone, bring layers, take water and snacks with you, and plan to be out of the Park, off the paths, and at your car before dark.”
  • 17 locals recommend
Park
“Located 23 miles south of Carmel, Andrew Molera State Park is the largest state park on the Big Sur Coast. A wide, scenic, mile-long path leads to a sandy beach that is sheltered from the wind by a large bluff to the north. The path itself is as much a delight as the beach, taking you through a meadow filled with wildflowers and sycamore trees, offering views of the coastal mountain range to the east. Check ahead to make sure roads to Big Sur are open and that the Park is open to visitors. Note, ike all places in Big Sur, this is a remote area and this Park has rugged walkways and trails. Don't stand on rocks/boulders along the waterline and stay out of the ocean and away from the waterline as fatally dangerous water conditions can exist. There is almost no cellphone service or internet service in and around the Big Sur area. Do not travel alone, bring layers, take water and snacks with you, and plan to be out of the Park, off the paths, and at your car before dark.”
  • 17 locals recommend
Travel Agency
“Our guests have loved this place and sent us many pictures of whales close the ships!”
  • 7 locals recommend
Park
“Great view of Monterey Bay! Nice trails with more awesome views of Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach. ”
  • 10 locals recommend
Park
“Lots of play structures and hiking. Locals park just outside the gate and walk in.”
  • 8 locals recommend
Park
“Arriving in October, monarch butterflies cluster together on pine, cypress and eucalyptus trees in the Sanctuary. Because of this unique migration, Pacific Grove is nicknamed "Butterfly Town, U.S.A." The best time to see the Monarchs is in November and December, but some will stay as late as March. After arriving at their destination, the monarchs cluster in large masses for protection from the elements. Since their flight muscles do not function well unless the temperature is above 55 degrees, they rest quietly on the trees, resembling dead leaves, until sunlight warms them enough to fly. On warm days, the butterflies will leave the trees entirely, seeking out nectar sources with which to”
  • 13 locals recommend
Beach
“This beach is usually more quiet compared with the more touristy Carmel beach. Has great sand and the river feeds into the ocean at this beach. Parking lot is small but the neighborhood usually has plenty of options.”
  • 9 locals recommend
Boat or Ferry
“We have whales here just about year round and they hover around the deep underwater canyon that goes out through the bay from Elk Horne Slough in Moss Landing.”
  • 5 locals recommend
Theatre
“Lovely outdoor performing arts theatre nestled in the trees. Outdoor musical and theatre performances, films, comedy performances.”
  • 9 locals recommend
National Park
“Awesome place, great for sightseeing, there’s a creek so take extra clothes ”
  • 7 locals recommend