Manchester State Park takes its name from the village of Manchester, located on Highway 1 about seven miles north of Point Arena. This is an area of rich grazing lands flocks of sheep and herds of cattle which add a pastoral note to some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world. The works of man are definitely secondary to pounding surf, screeching gulls, and grazing animals that dominate the scene. Manchester includes a Post Office, an Elementary School, the Manchester Grange and a multi-use store with groceries, building supplies and general merchandise. A county road north of Manchester leads past Manchester KOA Kampground to Manchester State Beach.

This unit of the State Park System consists of 760 acres of beach, sand dunes, and flat grasslands, with nearly 18,000 feet of ocean frontage. The beach line curves gently to form a "catch basin" for sea debris, which accounts for the volume of driftwood found.