wildlife viewing

Manresa State Beach

Sundown sets of nature's fireworks at Manresa State Beach. Photo by Dg251273, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Miles of empty beach in either direction.

West Cliff Drive

The Surf Museum at Lighthouse Point.

A 2.5-mile bike and pedestrian path skirting the cliffs.

Sequoia Audubon Trail

The wetlands that lie just inland from Pescadero State Beach are pretty easy on the eyes. Be careful, though—the stuff in the foreground is poison oak, and there's lots of it. Hilltromper photo.

Wander through marshes on this one-of-a-kind walk at Pescadero State Beach where nature is king.

Orion VE Waterproof

Tough, compact, all-weather binocs

Natural Bridges State Beach

The last remaining "natural bridge." Photo credit: Eugene Zelenko/Creative Commons.

Possibly the ultimate Santa Cruz beach.

Juniper Canyon Loop

Dramatic outcroppings and volcanic spires make the Juniper Canyon Trail at Pinnacles a visual feast. Photo by Miguel Vieira/Flickr.

4.3 miles; 2 to 3 hours; strenuous, with an elevation gain of 1200 feet
Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles NP

Two hikers look up Condor Gulch Trail at Pinnacles National Park. Photo credit: Miguel Vieira/Creative Commons.

Dramatic volcanic spires and soaring California condors

Steamer Lane

Steamer Lane is almost always breaking — and packed with protective locals. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

The ultimate Santa Cruz wave.

Año Nuevo State Park

Elephant seal mothers and pups at Ano Nuevo. Photo credit: MonicaSP54 on Creative Commons.

World-class wildlife viewing.

Elkhorn Slough

A mass of terns (white seabirds) taking flight over a wetlands. Photo by VIcki and Chuck Rogers/Creative Commons.

A global birding destination on Monterey Bay.