Just like that, another summer is upon us! While there’s plenty to do in Cambria when the sun’s out, one of our favorite activities any time of year – but especially during the summer months – is to explore the area’s numerous parks and natural reserves. To help inspire you to head outside, we’ve rounded up our list of the top 6 parks to visit on the Central Coast this summer, so grab your hat and enjoy the great outdoors.
Point Lobos State Reserve offers spectacular views, diverse plant life, wildlife and unique geological formations. It is sure to inspire the scientist within while meeting the needs of those who just want nice scenery. Here, you’ll find rolling meadows to wander about, as well as hiking trails that follow the shoreline and lead to hidden coves. There’s a cultural history museum and endangered archeological sites to check out, plus a rich habitat of sea life just offshore, for those divers who long to explore underwater.
Montana de Oro State Park
If diverse terrain is what you’re after, Montana de Oro State Park has got you covered. Venture here to explore rugged cliffs, coastal plains, canyons, secluded beaches, wildflowers, natural streams and the 1,347-foot Valencia Peak. Offering walking and hiking trails, as well as mountain biking and equestrian trails, part of the appeal of this park is its access to nature’s solitude. The best-known beach is Spooner’s Cove, across from the campground, where leashed dogs are permitted. However, if you’re planning to venture off on the trails or other beaches, you’ll have to leave your furry friend at home.
This park on a scenic area of the Pacific Coast includes bluffs, wetlands, streams and a beach at Villa Creek. Walk the easy 2-3 mile bluff trails to explore the park’s many marshes and grasslands. These provide habitat for a number of endangered species including the snowy plover. After a stroll, stop to picnic along a bluff or in one of the coves.
Morro Bay State Park
You can hike, fish, walk, sail and bird watch at Morro Bay State Park, which offers wonderful views of the prominent Morro Rock landmark. Morro Bay State Park features a lagoon and saltwater marsh where many birds make their home. The park also has a vibrant marina and an 18-hole public golf course. A highlight of a visit here includes a trip to the Museum of Natural History. Here you’ll find natural and cultural exhibits on Native American life, geology and oceanography, as well as events and activities for all ages.
Hearst San Simeon State Park
This park is one of the oldest properties in the California State Park System. This rocky stretch of coastline showcases pristine coastal bluffs with scenic overlooks offering unobstructed views of the Pacific. The park’s 3.3-mile trail runs through parts of the San Simeon Natural Preserve, a portion of which is wheelchair accessible. Wetlands, riparian areas and unique plant life can be found throughout the preserve. Nearby, the Santa Rosa Creek Preserve, also inside the park, includes coastal wetlands and forests that provide shelter for some endangered species. Hearst San Simeon State Park is also home to the Elephant Seal Boardwalk, offering visitors a unique vantage point from which to view northern elephant seals (from a safe distance) at various times throughout the year.
Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument (Hearst Castle)
Located on Highway 1 just 10 miles north of Cambria is the world-famous Hearst Castle, a sprawling estate situated on “The Enchanted Hill” at San Simeon. Built by newspaper tycoon in 1919 by William Randolph Hearst, this elaborate 115-room “castle” hosted many well-to-do guests and was the sight of lavish parties back in the day. Today, you can take a tour to get a glimpse of what life was once like at this grandiose historical estate.
Whether you hike, bike, walk or picnic throughout the numerous state parks and reserves surrounding Cambria, summer is an ideal time to take advantage of the area’s great outdoors. Our top-rated collection of oceanfront hotels are situated along Moonstone Beach Drive in Cambria, providing an idyllic home base for exploring all that the area has to offer.