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Pacific Grove

Visit the tip of the Monterey Bay peninsula to relax in this historic town along a beautiful coastline

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With an incomparable setting along the rocky, curving shores of Monterey Bay and narrow streets lined with 19th-century cottages, Pacific Grove is an unapologetically traditional small town.

Founded in 1875, this Monterey County community always feels authentic, never touristy. It borders the city of Monterey, and you can easily reach the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row (both just across the city line) by walking or bicycling from Pacific Grove along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.  The trail runs 18 miles along the shore north to Castroville, and Pacific Grove’s stretch may just be the prettiest part of the entire route. You’ll see wildlife like harbor seals and sea otters just offshore, and can also head out on the water yourself with a kayak rental from Adventures by the Sea at Lovers Point Park and Beach—one of the most popular spots for a photo op.

The Monterey Peninsula is celebrated as one of the true kingdoms of golf, and at the Pacific Grove Golf Links you can tee off by the bay at a fraction of the cost of the fabled courses at Pebble Beach. With a back nine created by Jack Neville, who also co-designed the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links, this classic course offers its own beauty and challenges. And the golf links are also home to the 1855 Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast.

Like much of Pacific Grove, Asilomar State Beach & Conference Grounds blends unspoiled natural beauty and historic architecture. A boardwalk explores a restored section of dunes, while the Asilomar Coast Trail follows the shoreline for a mile. For many visitors, the real highlight is Asilomar’s incomparable collection of Arts and Crafts–style buildings designed by Julia Morgan, the architect of Hearst Castle. Asilomar has the largest collection of Morgan buildings at one location, and a self-guided tour stops at eight sites on the grounds. In addition to architecture, you can also find tour options for sailing, fishing, wine tasting, or horseback riding. 

As gorgeous as the coast is, you’ll also want to take time to experience Pacific Grove’s vintage downtown. It mostly caters to the local community, but you’ll also find outstanding destination dining at such Pacific Grove restaurants as Passionfish, a favorite for its inventive seafood and an extensive wine list (with minimal markup!).

While Pacific Grove is very much a year-round destination with an average temperature in the 60s, October is a special time here in “Butterfly Town U.S.A.” That’s when thousands of monarch butterflies begin to arrive at the town’s Monarch Grove Sanctuary and the community holds its annual Butterfly Parade & Bazaar.