“a place where the sea meets the land… ”
I find the entire California’s coastal line rather enchanting. Driving on Cabrillo highway is an absolute must once-in-a-life-time experience. Consider yourself lucky if you get to do it more than once. Consider yourself even luckier if you’re able to find a parking spot at one of the busiest state park in all of California.
Clearly you’d like to fill your itinerary to the top with all the stops along the route to make the best of this amazing road trip. Many visitors attempt to snap a shot of every other turnout and natural feature since the scenes appear to be straight out of the movies. One place however keeps eluding tourists since the entrance is not overly emphasized anywhere along the PCH.
Certainly I would recommend taking as much time as you can while admiring Pacific Coast Highway; there is one place however I would absolutely recommend you to spend at least two days on – Point Lobos State preserve – the “crown jewel” of California’s 280 state parks.
Free parking at Point lobos state park
You can actually park for free right at the entrance along the PCH. See the diagram below. Although parking within the park is about $10 for the entire day.
There are a total of 5 tiny parking lots located at every corner of the park which you can easily drive up to, although we highly recommend parking for free along the Route 1. You will have an opportunity to explore more of the park on foot.
Perhaps Point Lobos State Natural Reserve hasn’t gotten the National Park status since the title would draw too much unwanted attention. However the strip of land walkable within a day can rival all the National Parks within California if not the entire USA. The natural features range from meadows to forest, to tall cliffs, to beaches, so path unlike anywhere else along the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Here’s an excerpt from the State Parks website that does a better job describing what to expect:
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging. In addition to the spectacular beauty, nearly every aspect of its resources is of scientific interest. There are rare plant communities, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and incredibly rich flora and fauna of both land and sea. Deriving its name from the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos, Point of the Sea Wolves, where the sound of the sea lions carries inland, the Reserve has often been called “the crown jewel of the State Park System”.
Point Lobos with kids
Like with any other ultra popular place you might want to drive up to the park as early as it opens – around 8:00 am. Paid parking (approximately $10/car) within the park is fairly limited. It really is a 50/50 shot especially if you’re coming later on in the day.
We really enjoyed hiking in point lobos prior to having our son and just as much afterwards. In fact, our son was almost born in this magical neck of the woods. There’s just one thing to be on the lookout for – some of the hiking paths lay right near dangerous cliffs and you might want to keep an eye out for your child.
Additionally we’ve caught a few ticks one time while hiking at Point lobos – so do watch out for those and make sure to check your open areas after hiking – as you always should.
P.L. in 3 parts
Honestly, we missed a good portion of the park on the first two visits. Point Lobos state preserve really is massive, despite how little it looks on the map. In fact we divided it in 3 parts – the North, the Central and the South – each boasting unique features worth exploring with your loved ones. More info to follow..
You might want to check out the following locations while driving on PCH from Los Angeles to San Francisco.