Summer in state parks! | Cal Parks

Summer in state parks!

Published: June 9, 2021

As summer approaches and California appears poised to relax many of the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for over a year, naturally many Californians are ready for a change of scenery this summer. Visiting state parks is a great way to stay safe, healthy, and enjoy some of the best scenery California has to offer. We asked our followers on social media, members, and staff what they are most looking forward to this summer to help you plan for a summer to remember in California state parks!


Visit tidepools


I'll be going to Natural Bridges State Beach to visit with friends, check out the tidepools there, and ride my bike around Santa Cruz.” Haley Gonzales, Partnership Program Manager

Sonoma Coast State Park covers miles of coastline in Sonoma county and has several locations for easy tidepool access. The area of Salmon Creek just north of Bodega Bay is the closest to the Bay Area and is easily accessible. You’ll find sea stars, anemones, mussels, limpets, crabs, and more!

In southern California, you can find some amazing tidepools at Montaña De Oro State Park as well!

A star fish at Sonoma Coast State Park, photo from Alex McCutcheon

Visit a dairy farm at Wilder Ranch State Park

This suggestion comes to us from a social media follower!

Just adjacent to Santa Cruz, you can visit a preserved dairy ranch at Wilder Ranch State Park. Learn about California history and say hello to some new friends!

A goat at Wilder Ranch State Park, photo from Alex McCutcheon


Have a picnic at Crystal Cove State Park

"I’m excited to go back to Crystal Cove State Park this summer. I like going for a hike in the hills, then heading to the beach for a lunch picnic. Also, if you look closely at the big rocks on the beach, you’ll see crystal-like formations in them. They sparkle in the sunlight and make the area feel really special!", Kathleen McCurdy, Content Marketing Manager

Only a short drive from Los Angeles, Crystal Cove State Park gets you out of the city and into one of California’s most iconic coastlines. Spend the day here with friends or family for a picnic and a dip in the water.

Crystal Cove State Park, photo from Kathleen McCurdy

Cool off at South Yuba River State Park

"I'll be enjoying the sun and keeping cool in the water", Samantha Joseph, Institutional Giving Officer

About 60 miles north of Sacramento lies the south fork of the Yuba River at South Yuba River State Park. This popular location is a favorite for cooling off in the hot summer months in Sacramento. Bring your inner tube and float lazily along, or enjoy some time on the beach. This park does get crowded, so leave early if you plan on staying a while.

Cooling off at South Yuba River State Park, photo from Samantha Joseph

See the sunset (or rise) at Palomar Mountain State Park

This suggestion comes from one of our Twitter followers!

Palomar Mountain provides spectacular views of San Diego County as well as camping, fishing, and miles of hiking trails. Due to its elevation, Palomar Mountain can see very different temperatures and climates than the rest of the surrounding area, so bringing layers is advised.

Palomar Mountain State Park, photo from Shutterstock

Bring your furry friend to a beach!

Exploring dog friendly state beaches like Bean Hollow State Beach and Pacifica State Beach with my dog Otis!” Sydney Little, Communications Manager

Spend a day trip bringing your dog to Bean Hollow State Beach, where they can frolic through the sand (while on a leash). This park houses a rare geological formation known as tafoni, also known as “swiss cheese rock”, which scientists continue to study to learn how it is formed.

Otis at Bean Hollow State Beach, photo from Sydney Little

Enjoy the rugged beauty and milder weather of Mendocino Headlands State Park

"Take a walk or bike down Big River Trail to see the magnificent Big River from above. You can also kayak or canoe up Big River and catch the wildlife from the water. Spend time as Big River Beach, where Big River flows into the Pacific Ocean just south of the small town of Mendocino.", Ashley Tittle, Director of Engagement

Due to its location, Mendocino Headlands State Park can be an escape from summer heat. Another iconic coastline, one can spend hours watching the tide come in and out. If you happen to be in the park in July, try to catch the Mendocino Headlands Music Festival, which is set to return this year.

Mendocino Headlands State Park, photo from Ashley Tittle

Visit one of “California’s Greatest Lakes” at Millerton Lake SRA

Millerton Lake is a great spot to spend the day, especially when it gets so hot in the summer!” Alex McCutcheon, Communications Coordinator

Just outside of Fresno you can enjoy Millerton Lake, a reservoir created in the 1940s. Enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, and camping! Dogs are allowed here so feel free to bring them along!

Millerton Lake SRA, photo from Samantha Joseph



Thank you to everyone who provided suggestions and special thank you to HomeLight.