Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Families looking for things to do in Monterey, CA or en route along Highway 1 to Big Sur should definitely stop at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Located just a few miles outside Monterey on Highway 1, Point Lobos offers great hiking with kids in Monterey, with miles of hiking trails, scenic vistas, hisorical sites, and picnic grounds in some of the most beautiful acreage I’ve ever seen. We started at Whaler’s Cove, where a posted sign instructed us to speak in quiet voices…the seals were using the nearby beach as a pup rookery. We could see the mother seals and babies from the parking lot. Nearby, families can view the historic Whaler’s Cabin, and a steep staircase takes you to the bluff overlooking the bay and the network of hiking trails.

Point Lobos State Park

The trails are easily navigated, though parents will want to remind kids to stay on the trail. There are steep areas, and during certain seasons, poison oak is in bloom. (We saw a lot when we visited in May.) We opted to take the 1.4 mile North Shore Trail, which connects with the Seal Point parking area and trailhead. Along the North Shore Trail are numerous overlooks where seals, otters, and even whales can be spotted, and at Seal Point, tide pools are visible in low tide. The nearby Cypress Grove Trail tours the oldest Monterey Cypress grove in the world, and is a great option for famlies not quite up for the longer hikes. Guided walks and nature talks are also scheduled throughout each week.

point lobos tide pools

Note: Dogs are not permitted in the reserve, even if they stay in the vehicle.

Date last visited:

May 2012

Distance from the interstate:

Right on Highway 1.

Admission price:

Admission the the reserve is $10 per car. You’re buying a state park pass, so if you’re visiting any other state parks on your trip, it will be good for those, too!

Hours of operation:

8 am to 7 pm during Daylight Savings, and from 8 am until 1/2 hour after sunset in winter.

Food services:

None, but picnicking areas are throughout the park.


From Monterey, head out Highway 1 three miles south. Look for the posted signs.