With one of the most stunning and powerful meetings of land and sea on the continent, Point Lobos State Reserve might well be Monterey’s crown jewel. The state park is home to harbor seals and sea otters, but the real magic is discovering the tranquil coves of turquoise water along the raw and rocky coast. To get the full experience, pack a picnic and hike the perimeter network of trails that encircles Point Lobos, from Sea Lion Point to Sand Hill Trail, then to South Shore Trail and Bird Island Trail. Be sure to check out China Cove, easily one of the most beautiful spots on the Pacific Coast. For a closer look, take the wooden stairs to the beach; you may even encounter a choir of sea otters (they aren’t shy around here). Sea otter or not, we’re sure you’ll hear the call of the wild.
Point Lobos State Reserve is approximately four miles south of Carmel on Highway 1.
TIP: After viewing Monterey’s wildlife, it’s time to make some of your own. Head into Carmel for drinks at the Forge in the Forest. The saloon used to be a blacksmith shop but now features a mahogany bar and a lively weekend scene. Pet owners can let their dogs out at the Forge's Dog Pound, a special part of the patio for canines with its own menu. Humans should sample the French onion soup or the Francis Whitaker Blacksmith salad.
The Forge in the Forest, 5th Ave. and Junipero Ave., Carmel; 831-624-2233.