Fodor's Expert Review Van Damme State Park
Best known for its quiet beach, a prime diving spot, this park is also popular with day hikers. A ¼-mile stroll on a boardwalk leads to the bizarre Pygmy Forest, where acidic soil and poor drainage have produced mature cypress and pine trees that are no taller than a person. For more of a challenge, hike the moderate 4¼-mile Pygmy Forest and Fern Canyon Loop past the forest and sword ferns that grow as tall as 4 feet. The visitor center has displays on ocean life and the historical significance of the redwood lumber industry along the coast.