Fern Canyon is located in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County, along the California coast. The park is managed in cooperation with the Redwood National Park and it was used a backdrop for the movie Jurassic Park. Located about 50 miles north of Eureka the canyon which is covered in thick ferns is complimented with untouched sandy beaches, herds of wild elk, and open meadows. There are around 75 miles worth of hiking trails, and a 19-mile bike loop. Visitors can stay at either Elk Prairie or Gold Bluffs Beach campgrounds.
Trinidad is a sleepy little seaside city in Humboldt County, located around 8 miles north of the Arcata-Eureka Airport and has a population of less than 400 people. This tiny fishing village is surrounded by some of the best coastlines in Northern California and accessible beaches. If your hungry, Trinidad is a fantastic place to stop by one of the cafes to get the latest and freshest Catch of the Day. Moonstone Beach just south of the town of Trinidad displays an amazing landscape of empty flat beaches, rocky outcroppings, tide pools, sea caves, and rock-climbing right on the beach. It is also a great place for swimming, surfing, and kayaking.
The coastline along Mendocino County is nothing but spectacular. Rural and majestic sloping hillsides from the mountain tops down to the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Vineyards, farms, as well as bed and breakfasts are all tucked away in this unpopulated section of California. The small little village of Elk, CA located 22 south of Fort Bragg is one of those places you just need to stop and explore the surrounding landscapes. Take a walk along the cliffs and gaze upon the beautiful rock formations out in the ocean.
The Golden Gate Bridge could possibly be one of the most recognizable bridges in the world. The construction of this modern marvel began in 1933 and is 1 mile long. Located in one of the United States major cities of San Francisco along the California Coast, the Golden Gate Bridge is visited by millions of tourists each year. There are many vantage points to take in this structure and 1.7 mile wide opening to the Pacific Ocean. One of the best places is just down below in Fort Point where from the sea level you can get a great sense of scale as to the magnitude of the bridge and bay. The early mornings at Fort Point as the sun rises is a great time to witness the dawn lighting illuminate the structure.
The small coastal town of Half Moon Bay is located about 45 mins south of San Francisco. It is a mixture of a rural and agriculture community that meets a fishing village. This mostly unknown little town was put on the map in recent decades with the discovery and announcement one of the world's most premiere big wave surfing spots called Mavericks. With plenty of coastline and forests to explore, day travelers can take a drive out to Pillar Point and walk the trails out to the ocean and check out the tide pools that are exposed at low tide. Half Moon Bay also provides hikers with 5 spectacular trails to enjoy such as the Purisma Creek Trail, Mavericks Cliff Trail, Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail, Blufftop Coastal Park, and the Burleigh H. Murray Ranch.
Santa Cruz is a kick back seaside town that sits on the north end of Monterey Bay. It is a great town to stop on your drive down the coast and hang out for the night. It has a Beach Boardwalk with vintage rides include the 1911 Looff Carousel and the Giant Dipper roller coaster. Over in Downtown, Santa Cruz on Pacific Avenue there are vintage clothing stores, cafes, galleries, and many other types of shops. It is your classic surf styled town with a laid back attitude. There are really great walking trails along the ocean front and beautiful spots to watch the sunset. A fun spot to check out while along the coast is the Natural Bridges State Park.
A journey through Big Sur is something like stepping into the landscapes described in a Tolkien novel. Big Sur is a very rugged stretch of California’s central coast. There are no set boundaries but generally it is agreed to be around 76 miles ranging between Carmel and San Simeon. It is known for it's windy mountain roads on a narrow portion of the Highway 1 which goes down to 2 lanes. On the East side of the road is the Santa Lucia Mountains and on the west side is the Pacific Ocean. Though being sparsely populated the region has great spots to stop and dine at, such as Nepenthe. The real adventure is venturing to the numerous state parks for hiking, camping and beach-combing such as McWay Falls, Point Sur Light Station, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, and Limekiln State Park.
Morro Bay is a sleepy fishing and coastal town located in San Luis Obispo County on the Central California Coast. The town's most striking feature is Morro Rock, a 576 foot high volcanic plug which stands at the entrance to the harbor. The area around the base of Morro Rock is open to visitors, with parking lots and paths. However, climbing the rock itself is prohibited except with a permit. Morro Bay is also a short less than 1 hour drive from an excellent wine region known as Paso Robles. Visitors can also check out the Morro Bay State Park and the tide pools surrounding the area. As well as the Morro Strand State Park which is a beautiful coastal walk along the sand. For those into hiking you can make sure to check out the Cerro Alto Trail (Hard), Black Hill Trail (Easy), or Cerro Cabrillo/Cabrill Peak Trail (Moderate).
Swamis Beach located in Encinitas, northern San Diego County, is a picturesque stretch of beach that starts to the north with an amazing point break reef and then gradually opens up to stretch of sand great for walks. Swami's is a major surfing destination in Southern California with a world class wave. So needless to say the beach is very rarely empty. Just south of Swamis Beach is the San Elijo State Beach camping area which is a great place for a weekend getaway. In recent years the sleepy town of Encinitas has seen major development of its business center which is now full of a variety of restaurants, bars, and shopping.
Located only a 7 miles drive from downtown San Diego, this coastal city whose translation means "The Jewel" is truly that. If you venturing throughout San Diego you have to make this one of your stops. An amazing stretch of coast line that offers sections like Windansea Beach, La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores, and Blacks Beach. All of these niche areas have their own local communities, shopping, and restaurants when you feel like exploring more than just the coastline. Windansea Beach is an icon spot in the history of the California surf culture. The famous La Jolla Cove is a marine preserve where people can snorkel and swim with abundant sea life.