Spreading along the coast at the mouth of the Big Sur River, 20 miles south of Carmel, Andrew Molera State Park is a grassy former cattle ranch on the site of one of Big Sur’s oldest homesteads. In the 1850s, immigrant Juan Bautista Roger Cooper bought the land; in 1861, he built a cabin, which still stands along Hwy-1 near the park entrance. Well-blazed but sometimes boggy trails wind along both banks of the river down to the small beach, horses (831/625-5486) are available for hire, and there are quite a few nice places to camp (walk-in only). In winter, the park is also a popular resting spot for migrating monarch butterflies.

Map of Pacific Coast through California's Central Coast.
Map of Pacific Coast through California’s Central Coast.