A great benefit to living in Merced is the option to go east into Yosemite, or head west to the coast. Either way you will experience the beauty of California with both about just two hours away from Merced.
For this article, I am going to take you to the West to visit two locations.
The first location is a “visit it once in your lifetime” kind of place, and the other is someplace you will want to visit often.
Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains just outside of town is a fun little tourist trap called “The Mystery Spot”. You have probably seen the yellow and black bumper stickers and maybe you have even said to yourself…hum…someday I will go to The Mystery Spot…. so here is some information that will help you plan you trip.
It is a “lighthearted” type of place and the jokes that the guides tell are worth the $6.00 tour fee. (also there is a $5.00 parking charge per car)
About the Mystery Spot
Clean well kept landscaping
Friendly workers and guides
Reasonably priced gift shop and food snack bar
Nice hiking trail up into the redwoods and eucalyptus trees (great to hike as you may have to wait for your tour)
If you know what time you will be there – you can make reservations ahead, otherwise you will have a 1 hour or more wait.
The guides will do their best to keep you entertained for about 45 minutes with dry humor.
There are two nice parks on the road to the Mystery Spot if you want to stop for a picnic.
The main attractions of the Mystery Spot
Trip-advisor reviews for The Mystery Spot It is fun to read the reviews of what travelers thought of the Mystery Spot.
Point Lobos State Reserve
On Highway One beyond Carmel is a the State park Point Lobos. Planning your visit ahead of time is necessary as Point Lobos is very busy in the summer and weekends. Parking is often sold out early (only 150 parking slots) in the park and many folks park on the highway and walk in. To walk into the park from Highway One is a long walk.
We visited in the summer on a Tuesday evening about 5:30 p.m. We did not have any trouble getting a place to park, but it was still very busy. Happy and friendly visitors are everywhere. Most have their cameras ready looking for the best photo or they are looking to do some serious hiking on the miles of trails that hug the pacific coast.
From the Point Lobos State website
“About the park – Deriving its name from the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos, Point of the Sea Wolves, where the sound of the sea lions carries inland, the reserve has often been called “the crown jewel of the State Park System.” Point Lobos has offered many things to millions of people who have visited it over the years.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging. In addition to the spectacular beauty, nearly every aspect of its resources is of scientific interest. There are rare plant communities, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and incredibly rich flora and fauna of both land and sea.
Respect the power of the ocean. Help avoid a disaster and keep at a safe distance. Remain on the designated trails within the wire guides, and stay away from the rocky cliffs. Rock climbing is absolutely prohibited.”
Hiking and taking pictures on the trail
On our visit to the park we were there from 5:30 p.m. to closing which is 30 minutes after sundown. We had a great time hiking and taking pictures.
On one of of the trails we found a family of deer feeding with two young fawns. We also were able to see some sea lions resting and playing on the beach.
Point Lobos is a State park that we will continue to return to many times in the future.
Things to do at Point Lobos
Enjoying the sunset
A word of caution as you hike on the trails, Watch out for the poison oak that grows in the wild right along side the trails.