Sea lions, shore birds and more share this gorgeous chunk of Pacific Coast south of Carmel, California You can cram all the charms of California's amazing coastline into one stop at Point Lobos State Reserve, about 100 miles south of San Francisco. It's all there at Point Lobos: crashing waves, barking sea lions, chattering shorebirds, sun-bathing sea otters, remarkable rock formations. Granted, you get a few nibbles of this anywhere along California Highway 1, but why not save your appetite for the whole feast? Point Lobos has a network of well-maintained trails, but it's not really a hiking destination. Better to just find a place to park, find a trail, walk toward the sound of the ocean and enjoy the scenery. Best time to go: September, when the summer heat is easing and the coast is less foggy. The rest of the year will do, however. Park authorities limit the number of cars allowed in Point Lobos, so you might have to leave the car outside the park on Highway 1 and walk in. This'll add about two miles of walking to your outing.