Monterey State Parks,
Beaches and Nature Preserves
800 Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove, CA (831) 646-6440
Located on the Monterey Peninsula in Pacific Grove, Asilomar (meaning “a refuge by the sea”) State Beach and Conference Grounds offer breathtaking views of the cypress, surf and sand.
The mile-long beach features a bird sanctuary in a lagoon (just before the Carmel River empties into the sea) featuring a wide variety of waterfowl and song birds. Monastery Beach, also known as San Jose Creek Beach, is part of the park and is popular with scuba divers. Ocean and swimming and wading are extremely dangerous.
The beach is best known for hang-gliding. Radio-controlled gliders and kites are also popular. The beach is a favorite site for picnics. Water recreation is extremely hazardous due to strong rip currents.
The area served as California’s capital under Spanish, Mexican and U.S. rule. The U.S. flag was first officially raised in California here on July 7, 1846, bringing 600,000 square miles, including California, into the Union.
The beach is a favorite place for surfers and tidepool watchers. Fishing is popular, too. The cities of Monterey and Seaside share the park, which has three separate beaches approximately a mile apart.
The reserve contains headlands, coves and rolling meadows. The offshore area forms one of the richest underwater habitats in the world popular with divers. Wildlife includes seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating gray whales (from December to May).
The beach is a popular fishing area, featuring perch, kingfish, sole, flounder, halibut, bocaccio (tomcod), jacksmelt, lingcod, cabezon, salmon, steelhead and occasional rockfish. Swimming and water sports are hazardous because of strong rip-currents.
El Estero Park Complex
The park is a 45-acre multi-use recreation area in the center of Monterey. It features the Dennis the Menace Playground the City’s most popular playground. Paddleboat concession at lake, group BBQ picnic area, exercise course, restrooms (reservations: (831) 646-3866).
Major rating websites rate El Estero Park Complex 4.6 stars out of 5.
Address: 725 Pearl St, Monterey, CA 93940
Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 10PM
Phone: (831) 646-3866
Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail
One of the most unique features in Monterey County is the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. The paved path stretches 18 miles from Castroville in the north to Pacific Grove in the south.
Major rating websites rate Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail 4.5 to 5 stars out of 5.
Monterey Skate Park
Address: 725 Pearl St, Monterey, CA 93940
Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 6PM
Phone: (831) 646-3866Website: https://monterey.org/Services/Parks-and-Beaches/Skate-Park
Monterey Dog Park
Dogs are prohibited in all parks with the exception of El Estero, Veteran’s Memorial, the Dog Park, along the Coastal Trail and on beaches east of Wharf II.
Monterey Veterans Memorial Park
Veteran’s Memorial Park is a popular and beautiful 50 acre park in the forested hills of Monterey. Located only a mile from Downtown Monterey, this park is an affordable and fun way to stay overnight in the Monterey Peninsula. Besides campgrounds, the park includes hiking trails under towering Monterey Pine forest and bay views. You will also find BBQ picnic areas, play equipment, turf and lawn playfield and a basketball court.
Address: 1200 Veterans Dr., Monterey, CA 93940
Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 10PM
Phone: (831) 646-3865
Sister City Park
Major rating websites rate Sister City Park 4.5 stars out of 5. (Please note that the rating was based on only 44 reviewers.)
Address: 155 Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail, Monterey, CA 93940
Andrew Molera State Park — Campgrounds
Containing 4,800 acres, Andrew Molera State Park is located in the spectacular Big Sur Area. The Big Sur River runs through the park. Miles of trails wind through meadows, beaches and hilltops. Primitive campsites, popular with hikers and bikers, are located approximately one third mile from the parking area.
Fremont Peak State Park — Campgrounds (elevation 3,169 feet.)
It features expansive views of the Monterey Bay from its hiking trails in the grasslands of the higher peaks of the Gavilan Range. Other views include the San Benito Valley, Salinas Valley, and the Santa Lucia Mountains east of Big Sur. Fremont Peak has ten primitive family campsites and 40 picnic areas. Two of the park’s six group camps, which will accommodate up to 50 people and can be reserved at Ticketron outlets; the remaining four must be reserved through the park supervisor. The group picnic area is first-come-first-served.
The park offers two miles of beachfront, with coastal hiking and a 50-foot climb to a beautiful view of the Pacific. With 2,879 acres, the park offers diverse coastal vegetation with trails running from ocean beaches into dense redwood groves.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park — Campgrounds
The park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into nearby 3,000-foot ridges. The park features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail. A panoramic view of the ocean and miles of rugged coastline is available from the higher elevations along the trails east of Highway 1. The park offers Environmental Camping only. Located west of the highway a little over 1/4 mile from the parking lot, Saddle rock (No 1) and South Garden (No. 2) are the park’s only campsites. Visit their Web site for additional information.
Limekiln State Park — Campgrounds
The park contains 716-acres. The park features breathtaking views of the Big Sur Coast. The park features the beauty of the redwoods, the rugged coast and the cultural history of limekilns. Co-managed with California Land Management, the parks has 43 campsites.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park — Campgrounds
The park has 800 acres of redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, alders and willows – plus open meadows. Hikers can enjoy the many scenic loops, including a self-guided nature loop. Overlooks provide spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Big Sur Gorge. Campsites are along the Big Sur River.
The park has an active US Coast Guard lightstation that sits 361 feet above the surf on a large volcanic rock. The facilities were established for the safety of seagoing vessels moving up and down the Big Sur coast.
It features offshore fishing and horseback riding trails. The beach is also popular with surfers and windsurfers. Offering coastal views and dune protection from afternoon winds, the beach is a favorite place for picnics.
This Web site is dedicated to the Elkhorn Slough Reserve. The area is great for kayaking. Lots of wildlife to view.
Address: 1700 Elkhorn Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076
Phone: (831) 728-2822
The beach is a popular fishing site. The beach protects one of Monterey Bay’s most interesting sand dune areas and is home to many species of wild birds, including Western meadowlarks, hawks, jays, valley quail, finches, towhees and sparrows as well as shorebirds that winter along the bay.