Heading to the Unknown Coast in Point Reyes National Seashore, we made our way over to Elephant Sea Cave—a short but slow and difficult scramble south of rocky McClures Beach—named after nearby Elephant Rock, shaped like, well, an elephant.
Rugged headlands, brushy hillsides, piney ridges, and pocket beaches—Point Reyes is a soul-soothing stretch of California coast that's less than half a gas tank from San Francisco. And when the day-tripping tourists leave, you've got it virtually to yourself. Accessible only by a 2- to 5-mile walk, Point Reyes' hike-in campgrounds are the best way to experience the Bay's favorite coastal wilderness wonderland. Grab one by reserving ahead or sacrificing some sleep (see below). Coast Campground is only a 1- to 2-minute walk from sublime Santa Maria beach, which is nearly vacant toward the end of the day.