Santa Barbara and Southern California as a whole are filled with extraordinary natural destinations. From the Santa Ynez Mountains to under-the-radar wine regions to the Pacific coastline, this place is a dreamland for outdoors enthusiasts. One of our favorite spots for hiking is San Luis Obispo, an hour-and-a-half drive northwest of Santa Barbara. Why this place specifically? Check out these three amazing treks that makes it stand out from the rest.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

Follow two, quarter-mile boardwalk trails to the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, where you can observe a colony of massive elephant seals—the loud and adorable dogs of the sea. The seals scattered about their natural habitat is just one of the hike’s highlights, as the 3.2 miles of trails bring visitors past stunning coastal bluff views and the Piedras Blancas Light Station. A level route caters to hikers of all experience levels.

Morro Strand Trail

Morro Rock, a 581 foot-tall mass of volcanic rock on the ocean’s shore, is one of California’s most recognizable natural landmarks. The manageable beach hike begins at a coastal wetland in Morro Bay, and takes walkers nearly two miles through Morro Bay Harbor on a breezy and scenic stroll. The combination of sand and an awe-inspiring final destination is truly breathtaking. At nearly four miles round trip, the trek is a long but easy hike for the family and a great photo opp for your coastal travels.

Dune Trail to Hazard Canyon Reef

Explore the dynamic landscape of Montaña de Oro State Park with this quick, mile long hike down to the ocean’s rocky shores. Beginning on a dirt path through a eucalyptus grove, the hike continues down into Hazard Canyon, whose surrounding dirt hills encompass the sea. The route leads down a ravine towards the water, where wooden steps bring walkers on the final 100 foot descent. Upon reaching the water, enjoy the grand surroundings with a snack and a bottle of wine before making the trek back.

image via flickr