The 10 Best State Parks in California!

California’s state parks include more than just a few natural wonders. Many state parks in California feature everything from beautiful beaches to sky-high mountains and stunning deserts. You’ll also find historic homes, structures and other spaces that are rich in history. Check out some of the best state parks in California and add them to your bucket list.

Limekiln State Park, Big Sur, CA

Limekiln State Park in Big Sur is home to several historic limekilns for history buffs. Nature lovers can enjoy beautiful beaches, Limekiln falls and redwood trees that line hiking paths and campsites. 

A post shared by Melissa Driscoll (@emjaydee_) on

Montaña de Oro State Park, Morro Bay, CA

Not far from San Luis Obispo, plan to spend a day at Spooner’s Cover, a beautiful beach in Montaña de Oro State Park. Or climb to the top of Valencia’s Peak for Instagrammable views of California’s central coast, filled with wildflowers. You can also slide down sand dunes, hit the trails or go horseback riding, along with many other activities.

Angel Island State Park, San Francisco, CA

Angel Island State Park in San Francisco’s Bay has many different points of interest. The former immigration station is now a historic landmark and you can also find coves, forts, and other structures. There are also hiking and biking trails as well as tours to help you make the most of your time on the island.

Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe, CA

There is a lot to do in Emerald Bay State Park, beyond gazing at the gem-colored waters. You can hike, boat and explore the surrounding area or head out to the teahouse and historic Scandinavian style castle for a tour of the structure. Or take a cruise around the lake.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, CA

Head to the second largest state park in the continental U.S. in the spring, after the weather has warmed up but hasn’t turned dangerously hot. Famous for the slot, a narrow passage way, you can also spot bighorn sheep on various trails as well as geographic transitions and desert flora.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Terrestrial Nomad Podcast (@terrestrial_nomad) on

Año Nuevo State Park, Pescadero, CA

Best known for the annual migration of thousands of elephant seals that turn up on the shore to breed each year, Año Nuevo State Park also boasts various endangered species that you might encounter on the trails. Enjoy the wilderness with a special permit or guided tour to fully enjoy the park’s nature reserve. 

Marshall Gold Discovery, Coloma, CA

As part of the West Coast Gold Rush, enjoy an educational day at Marshall Gold Discovery. The first sighting of California Gold was found here and you can tour the historic town that grew up around the locale before having dinner in a historic building or in a nearby tiny town.

Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley, CA

An essential stop in gold country, Empire Mine State Historic Park is one of the oldest and largest of its kind. Take a tour to go into the mine that was open for 100 years before closing in the 1950s. Check out the visitor’s center and the reproduction of the “secret room” as well as other points of interest. 

Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach, CA

Crystal Cove State Park is located on the pristine beaches of Laguna. Lovingly restored 1930s era beach cottages are available for nightly rentals and kids can play the day away on the sandy shores. You can also camp on the beach or dine at the popular Beachcomber Café. 

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, CA

Prepare to be transported to a dream. This glorious Big Sur state park is characterized by towering redwoods, cascading waterfalls, granite cliffs, and unmatched ocean views. Named after pioneer woman Julie Pfeiffer Burns, this state park is an essential bucket list item. 

A post shared by Damien Vialle (@damienvialle) on

View more California Parks.
Share your favorites!
California Search
Find Parks Near You
Find Parks Near You
19th Avenue and Highway 198, Lemoore, CA
2 - lighted softball fields, picnic area and BMX track. Adult softball leagues play during the spring, summer and fall. Read More
2000 9 1/4 Avenue, Hanford, CA
700 S Plaza Street, Visalia, CA
Amenities:  - Restrooms  - 2 Children's Playgrounds  - 7 Picnic Tables  - Barbeque Grills  - Open Play Areas  - 8 Lighted Tennis Courts (Rese... Read More
3300 Young Road, Earlimart, CA
A century has passed since the founding of this unique town dedicated to the dignity of the human spirit. Although the centennial celebration ... Read More
900 South Edison Street, Visalia, CA
Facilities:  - Children's Play Area  - Basketball Court  - Covered Picnic Tables Read More
Olsen Avenue, Reedley, CA
Cricket Hollow is located on the south side of Olsen Avenue, west of the bridge, across from Reedley Beach. Picnic tables, barbecues, and restrooms... Read More
890 West Belmont Avenue, Fresno, CA
Beautifully landscaped with cool blue lakes, huge groves of trees, rolling green lawns, and dotted by flower gardens, the park contains eight champ... Read More
5290 Millerton Rd, Friant, CA
With over 40 miles of shore land for water sports, this SRA offers visitors swimming, fishing, and boating. The hills surrounding the lake provide ... Read More
12320 Shoreline Highway, Point Reyes Station, CA
Tule Elk State Natural Reserve protects a small herd of tule elk, once in danger of extinction. In the 1800's, the vast herds of tule elk were... Read More
7551 Kroll Way, Bakersfield, CA
Kroll Park is located at the intersection of Kroll and Maltavo, just east of Gosford. This park offers individual picnic areas, a large sandlot sty... Read More
400 Montclair Street, Bakersfield, CA
Tucked away just North of Stockdale Highway on Montclair is Centennial Park. This park offers relief from the hustle and bustle of city life, witho... Read More
47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA
About Us:Located in the southern Sierra Nevada range, the parks’ elevations extend from 1,300 feet in the foothills to 14,491 feet at the sum... Read More
2300 Wilson Road, Bakersfield, CA
A friendly, neighborly place to visit would be Wilson Park. Located at the intersection of Wilson Road and Hughes Lane, Wilson Park offers a picnic... Read More
4404 Brewer Avenue, Bakersfield, CA
A sea of green would be the best description for University Park. Located in the rolling hills of east Bakersfield, on University just east of Colu... Read More
49777 High School Road, Oakhurst, CA
About Fresno Flats Historical Park: Fresno Flats Historic Park recaptures the flavor of 19th Century life in the Sierra Nevada foothills and mount... Read More
Highways 41, 140, and 120, Yosemite National Park, CA
Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquil... Read More
Road 628, Ahwahnee, CA
This site is used by local Native Americans as a ceremonial meeting place. The park features special events and tours. Gathering Day, held the thir... Read More
State Highway 1 at Dairy Creek Road, San Luis Obispo, CA
El Chorro Regional Park Campground features 63 campsites (43 sites are full hook-up with electricity, sewer and water. 18 sites are primitive with ... Read More
5005 Fairgrounds Road, Mariposa, CA
The museum is dedicated to helping families and students learn about the importance of mining and minerals to our history, our environment, and our... Read More
Yerba Buena St and Beachcomber Dr, Morro Bay, CA
This beach is a coastal frontage park featuring outstanding picnic sites. A three-mile stretch of beach connects the southern and northern entrance... Read More
Show More
Select a California town to find
the Best Things-To-Do and Places To Go around you
Los Angeles County
San Francisco County