Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Park in Big Sur

Image by Left_Coast_Photographer Getty Images

If you're chasing waterfalls, swing into this state park named for a Big Sur pioneer. From the parking lot, the 1.3-mile round-trip Waterfall Overlook Trail rushes downhill toward the ocean, offering photogenic views of the 80ft-high McWay Falls, which tumbles year-round over granite cliffs and free-falls into the sea. Note that flood damage had closed several trails and access to the beach at the time of research. Check current conditions online.

McWay Falls is the classic Big Sur postcard shot, with tree-topped rocks jutting above a golden beach next to swirling blue pools and crashing white surf. From trailside benches, you might spot migrating whales during winter.

The park entrance is on the east side of Hwy 1, about 8 miles south of Nepenthe restaurant.