We joined friends for a picnic, tide pooling, and water play at Point Lobos, just South of Carmel on Highway 1. This California State Reserve is a wildlife reserve, so you won’t find folks building sandcastles or flying kites. But what you will find are tons of nesting swallows, sea lions, otters, seals, crabs, and anemone; a shallow, protected bay for tide pooling and salt tasting, even when tides are not terribly low; lots of wildflowers and cypress trees; tons of swirly sandstone and speckled sedimentary rock; well groomed picnic areas; and some fun, short hikes. The park is $10 per car, and has a significant ranger and volunteer presence, at least on the weekend. Wear long pants, as there is abundant poison oak here, but pack water clothes and a towel if you want to dip your toe into the water or jump some waves at one of their sheltered beaches. The park also has a bay for diving, though we didn’t see any divers on our visit. The park is a bit of a trek from Silicon Valley, but we felt it was well worth it. Friend Robby said “This is the best day of my life,” and the long drive back was perfect for little naps on the way back home.