The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
The oldest of California’s state parks, Big Basin Redwoods State Park (831/338-8860) protects some 18,000 acres of giant coastal redwoods. Established in 1902, the park has many miles of hiking and cycling trails high up in the mountains. The heart of the park is most easily accessible from Santa Cruz via Hwy-236, but a popular trail winds up from the coast to the crest, starting from Hwy-1 at Waddell Beach, a popular haunt for kite-surfers and sailboarders, who sometimes do flips and loops in the wind-whipped waves.