Title: Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz, California
Preparation: Address: 1401 Coast Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 It is a very beautiful place. You can see the spectacular Santa Cruz coastline of the Pacific Ocean, bluffs, sea lions, birds, etc. The ancient wave-cut terrace is unique. It is not easy to see such kind of bluffs in other places. I felt this is the place in some way similar to what I've seen In Big Island in Hawaii. The gorgeous coastline view is here and you just need to drive less than one hour to see it if you live in the Bay Area. No admission fee. Parking: $10 / car. There is a parking lot. Remember to ask for the map when you entered. I have also seen many cars parked outside of the park, along the road which might save the parking fee. $50 / Bus (10 - 24 passenger), $100 / Bus(25+ passenger) There are restrooms and water fountains available near the inside of the parking lot. No restaurant. It is a purely natural place. What to bring: 1. Water, snacks; 2. Wear sports shoes to walk in the hiking trails. You may bring extra sandals if you'd like to walk on the beaches; 3. Hat, sunblock; 4. Schedule at least 2 - 3 hours for hiking and enjoy the wonderful ocean view. The ocean side trail named Ohlone Bluff Trail is about 2 miles. It is a loop. So when you walk along the trail, in the end, it will lead you to the parking lot. 5. Strollers are probably OK but the trail has sand and is not even or smoothy. If you have toddlers or young age kids, you may need to prepare to carry them for some time.
General opinion: Very beautiful view with a good hiking loop trail. There are also other trails and historic farmhouses. It's absolutely worth to go. It is a must-see.
Attractions and activities: 1. Hiking: 35 miles trails. for an easy hike, go through Old Cove Landing Trail to Ohlone Bluff Trail where has the gorgeous ocean view. Start from the parking lot and just walk along the trail in the same direction, in the end, it will lead you to the parking lot which is a loop, about 2.5 miles. 2. Pacific Ocean view, bluffs, sea lions, birds, etc 3. Two "beaches" you could walk there. But be aware the water is very cold even it's summer. 4. Experience history: there are farmhouses built in 19 century but we did not have time to visit. 5. Biking
Things I wish I had known before: No dogs allowed. At least walk about half mile to the seashore and you can see the coastline bluffs. Reference: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=549 Another close attraction is the Mystery Spot, only about 17 minutes drive, see details http://www.youishare.com/search/yanz/The_Mystery_Spot__Santa_Cruz___CA/MTQyOnlhbnotMTAz