Año Nuevo State Park
Pescadero, CA 94060
Año Nuevo State Park Photos
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Año Nuevo is the place where all of the sea lions go. Either your kids should naturally be excited to see sea lions or you've really got to talk it up, because it's a long walk for a kid (2.5 to 3 hrs) to see those sea lions. Both our kids ended up being carried at times on the way back. Strollers are not recommended by the park and by me. Trust me, carrying a stroller over sand dunes is not easy nor realistic.
Año Nuevo State Park is the site of the largest mainland breeding colony in the world for the northern elephant seal. The winter breeding season is a great way to get an up-close and personal view of animals in their natural habitat doing their natural activities. The males battle for mates on the beaches and the females give birth to their pups on the dunes.
The visitor center is a good place to start your tour, plus you need to get your visitor's permit there. The sea lions are accessible April through November by free permit only. However, during the breeding season, December 15 through March 31, daily access to the park is available only via guided walks. Guided walks are $7 per person and reservations can be made online. The program has become very popular in the last 20 years and it's highly recommended that you make advance reservations.
My best advice is to dress in layers. Even though we visited in April, we were glad we brought winter hats for the kids. Lightweight jackets that can be tied around a waist or stuffed in a backpack are a great idea.