Ryan Chartrand

The Central Coast makes it almost irresistible to stay indoors during the great summer weather. Luckily, this area also offers many spots perfect for an afternoon escape.

Just check out the details and directions online for the following hot spots and your relaxing day outdoors is sure to be a good one.

Montana de Oro

This state park offers numerous hiking and biking trails that can make for a perfect afternoon.

With more than 8,000 acres for you to roam in, this day escape is one of nature’s finest. The park also includes seven miles of shoreline to explore, making for great picnic opportunities and the chance to see wildlife ranging from seals to coyotes.

Montana de Oro is a little slice of nature’s heaven located just a short drive away. When looking for some relaxation time and solitude, you can’t beat what the “Mountain of Gold” has to offer.

Big Sur

For those looking to stretch out of their San Luis Obispo confines, head north on U.S. Highway 1 to Big Sur, which is only 100 miles away.

This coastline drive is one of the most phenomenal road sights California has to offer. Winding roads, luscious vegetation and breathtaking views are what to expect as you make your way up. There are several stop-off points, such as Salmon Creek Falls, which has a waterfall visible from the road. This makes for a great photo opportunity, and there is an easy trail to the top of the waterfall.

McWay Falls

Another must-do stopping point is McWay Falls at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, 37 miles south of Carmel. Be careful when parking your car on the side of the road and then follow the trail, which goes under the road and out to the boardwalk. From there, you’ll be able to see a waterfall coming out of a cliff and flowing on the beach – a very photogenic shot. You aren’t allowed on the actual beach there, but it’s definitely a sight to see.

Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park

Big Sur is full of multiple campgrounds and hidden camping spots. Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park, which is 9 miles past McWay Falls, is located on 1,006 acres of nature’s best.

Surrounded by redwoods, conifers and oak trees, this campsite is complete with nature trails, swimming and spectacular views.

If camping is not your thing, then there are also several lodges and hotels to stay at, although they are a bit more expensive.

Bixby Bridge

Continuing your way up the coast, you’ll come across the Bixby Bridge, which stands more than 260 feet high and more than 700 feet long. Be sure to pull over and get your pictures taken, as this bridge is one of the most photographed objects along the California coast.

You’ll soon enter Carmel, a quaint, artsy city with a population of just 4,700 located on the beach. Feel free to walk around and check out the town or even take a bike ride along Scenic Drive to really see it all. –

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