Limekiln State Park in Big Sur has it all—beach, woods, and history—and the trails are so short that you can actually see it all. First, follow the half-mile Limekiln Trail along a stream to four metal kilns that once fired limestone rock into powder (a key ingredient for cement). The powder was packed into barrels and pulleyed down to the beach for loading onto boats headed for Monterey or San Francisco. The industry (which lasted from 1870 through the 1880s) was harmful to the surrounding redwood forest, but the kilns have since been overtaken by vegetation.
On the way back to your car (or shaded campsite), turn left on the Falls Trail and continue until you dead end at a streaming 100-foot waterfall. If you packed a picnic, eat it here, unless you'd prefer the small beach under Highway 1.
Limekiln State Park is two miles south of the town of Lucia. (805) 434-1996