CALIFORNIA | CARMEL
Carmel City Beach: Convenient, with sandy slopes yielding views of golf-course green to the north and surf on rocks to the south; www.ci.carmel.ca.us.
Carmel River State Beach: A mile-long strand of beach and lagoon where the Carmel River meets the Pacific and waterfowl gather; free; (831) 649-2836, www.parks.ca.gov.
Point Lobos State Reserve: Rare cypress. Hulking granite. Sandstone tide pools. Cliff-clinging succulents. California coastline gets no more gorgeous than this. $9 per car, or $5 for seniors; (831)
Palo Corona Regional Park: (formerly Palo Corona Ranch) Access tightly restricted. Park officials issue just 13 pedestrian access permits per day, require at least 48 hours' notice and sometimes don't answer the phone; free; (831) 372-3196, www.mprpd.org/parks/palocorona.htm.
Garrapata State Park: This two-mile rock-studded stretch of beach can get busy in summer, but on a spring weekday morning, you may have no company at all. No facilities; free; (831) 624-4909,