Why: Smashing waves, hanging fog, beguiling rocks, sea creatures, birds, birders, hikers, painters, photographers and haunting trees -- all flourish here. And the Old Veteran might be the most haunting tree of all.
What: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, three miles south of Carmel, covers just under 400 acres. Within a few years of the Gold Rush of 1849, dozens of Chinese immigrant fishing families arrived to gather abalone, urchin and other species. Whalers made this a base camp. Japanese and Portuguese immigrants too.
An abalone cannery operated until 1928. And believe it or not, there was also coal mining nearby. But since 1933, it's been a state-owned reserve.