Since southern California is warm and sunny pretty much year-round, you can take a scenic trail trip anytime you want. But sometimes, we don't want to put in the effort to get to the top. Who says hiking has to make you work up a sweat? If you've ever searched for 'easy hikes in California,' we've found easy places where you can skip the hike and still get all the views. 

The diversity of landscapes here is unbelievable. You can go to the beach, drive to the desert, and build a snowman in the mountains all in one day. Where do you want to go?

Lower Yosemite Falls

Price: $30 national park entrance fee 

Location: Lower Yosemite Fall Trail, California

Why You Should Go: It's only a 0.5-mile roundtrip walk to see a breathtaking 2,425-foot waterfall!

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McWay Falls

Price: Free parking on Highway 1 or $10 via Falls Trail

Location: Highway 1, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, California 

Why You Should Go: This scenic drive takes you right to the top of an 80-foot waterfall cascading onto the beach. No hiking required.

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Top of the World

Price: Free

Location: Alta Laguna Blvd, Laguna Beach, California 

Why You Should Go: You can skip the long route and drive straight to the top, ocean views, rolling green hills, and all. 

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Crystal Cove State Park

Price: $5 per hour parking fee

Location: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, California

Why You Should Go: This scenic state park offers incredible views of the ocean. You don't have to hike to see it, but there are flat, sand trails to explore if you want. Did we mention the sunsets are to die for?

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Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Price: Free

Location: 1253 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., San Diego, California 

Why You Should Go: Enjoy a picnic near sheer cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It's one of the best places to catch the sunset in San Diego. You can drive straight to the view.

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Olmstead Point

Price: $30 national park entrance fee

Location: Yosemite Valley, California

Why You Should Go: This super-easy 0.25-mile roundtrip walk takes you to see some of the best views of Yosemite's iconic Half Dome.

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Washburn Point

Price: Free

Location: 5202 Glacier Point Rd, Yosemite Village, California 

Why You Should Go: You only have to walk 20 steps to get stunning panoramic views of Half Dome, Vernal Nevada Falls, and the Sierra Crest. 

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Artist's Palette

Price: Free

Location: Artist’s Drive, California

Why You Should Go: You can drive through 9 miles of beautiful rainbow-colored mountains.

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Knapp's Castle Trail

Price: Free

Location: Santa Barbara, California (Directions here)

Why You Should Go: You can explore old castle ruins overlooking Santa Barbara and the mountains. There’s also a tree swing where you can soar over the city. It's only a 0.25-mile walk!

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Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

Price: $10 per vehicle parking fees 

Location: 15101 Lancaster Rd, Lancaster, California 

Why You Should Go: These magical poppy fields are so colorful, you’ll feel like you’re in the Wizard of Oz.

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Muir Woods National Monument

Price: $15 per person plus an $8 parking reservation per vehicle

Location: 1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, California

Why You Should Go: You can stop in any of the woodsy scenes and snap the perfect pic. If you do want to explore, there are plenty of easy, flat walking trails.

 

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Editor's Note: The Antelope Poppy Reserve is a seasonal super bloom. The best time to go is during March. Make sure to stay on designated trails and do not trample the flowers. They can take years to grow back. There are ways to take unique photos that make it look like you're surrounded by flowers while you're on the trail.

We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.

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