Named after the farmer who first planted artichokes in California, this oft-overlooked park is a trail-laced pastiche of grassy meadows, ocean bluffs and rugged sandy beaches offering excellent wildlife watching. Look for the entrance just over 8 miles south of Bixby Bridge.
South of the parking lot, you can learn all about endangered California condors and long-term species recovery and monitoring programs inside the Big Sur Discovery Center.
From the main parking lot, a short walk along the beach-bound trail passes through a first-come-first-serve campground, from where a gentle spur trail leads to the 1861 redwood Cooper Cabin, Big Sur’s oldest building. Keep hiking on the main trail out toward a wild beach where the Big Sur River runs into the ocean; condors may be spotted circling overhead and migrating whales sometimes cruise by offshore.