Pacific Grove

Pacific Grove is a small city on the California coast, next to Monterey and close to Carmel, with attractions including its historic Victorian houses, a natural history museum, and a lighthouse.

Pacific Grove FlowerbedsPacific Grove Flowerbeds

Photo (c) Donna Dailey

History

The Monterey Peninsula, on which Pacific Grove stands, has been inhabited since prehistoric times by an indigenous people native to California called the Rumsen. They were still living here when the Spanish missionaries arrived and most of the people eventually moved away to escape the missionary influence.

Best Guide to Carmel and Monterey

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The town of Pacific Grove was eventually incorporated in 1889, and the expansion of the town led to lots of building in the Victorian era, and a lot of those buildings still survive.

The Pacific Ocean at Pacific GroveThe Pacific Ocean at Pacific Grove

Historic Downtown

Many of Pacific Grove's beautiful old buildings are in its historic downtown district. Find time to have a walk around and enjoy the shopping and the art galleries. You might even want to stay downtown as a number of the old Victorian buildings have been turned into charming inns and guesthouses.

View from the 17-Mile Drive between Carmel and Pacific GroveView from the 17-Mile Drive

17-Mile Drive

There's a lovely drive from Pacific Grove that goes in a circle almost to Carmel and back. See our separate page on the beautiful 17-Mile Drive.

Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific GrovePoint Pinos Lighthouse

Point Pinos Lighthouse

The Point Pinos Lighthouse is the oldest continuously-operating lighthouse on the USA's entire west coast. It began operations in 1855 and is still working, using its original lens. It now also has a museum as well as tours from Thursday to Monday 1-4pm (except Saturday, 10am-4pm). Check the website to confirm first. Robert Louis Stevenson visited the lighthouse when he was living for a time in Monterey, and described it in his book From Scotland to Silverado.

The Museum of Natural History in Pacific GroveThe Museum of Natural History

Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History is about a mile west of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and if you're staying in Monterey it's worth making the 30-minute walk to learn even more about the abundant wildlife in this area. The museum opened in 1883 but today it's a big, bright and modern museum covering the California Central Coast. There are extensive displays on birds and mammals, and the fascinating story of Pacific Grove's Chinese Fishing Village.

There's also a Native Plant Garden, in case you want to identify some of the things you'll see on your travels. There's also a large display on the Monarch Butterfly. Pacific Grove is the largest overwintering site in Monterey County, and this display will tell you where to see them (see below) and explain their annual life cycle. You can also see them further down the coast in Pismo Beach.

Monarch Butterfly in Pacific GroveThe Beautiful Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

The best place to see the butterflies is here, about a mile northwest of the Natural History Museum at 250 Ridge Road. It's open dawn till dusk daily, with docents usually on hand in the afternoons to answer questions. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Learn more on the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary page of the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce.

Pacific Grove on TV!

If you're familiar with the TV series Big Little Lies then some of the scenes were shot in Pacific Grove. Others were done around the Monterey Peninsula, and in Big Sur.

Pacific Grove Art Center

The Pacific Grove Art Center has changing exhibitions, so it's worth checking what's on while you're there. They also rent out studios to local artists, so you can see what they're up to, and maybe you might even want to take one of their classes while you're visiting Pacific Grove.

More Information

Visit the Website of the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Center.

Some Monterey pages

  •  Pacific Coast Highway Travel takes the 17-Mile Drive from Carmel to Pacific Grove and Monterey, stopping to see the Lone Cypress and beautiful coastline views.

    The 17-Mile Drive between Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel takes the 17-Mile Drive from Carmel to Pacific Grove and Monterey, stopping to see the Lone Cypress and beautiful coastline views.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends the best time to visit Monterey with month by month and season by season information on the city’s weather and climate.

    Best Time to Visit Monterey

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends the best time to visit Monterey with month by month and season by season information on the city’s weather and climate.

  • The Hotel Pacific is a Monterey boutique hotel in a good location close to Fisherman’s wharf and downtown restaurants and bars and with its own parking garage.

    Monterey Boutique Hotel, the Hotel Pacific near Fisherman's Wharf

    The Hotel Pacific is a Monterey boutique hotel in a good location close to Fisherman’s wharf and downtown restaurants and bars and with its own parking garage.

  • A walk around the Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey and Carmel provides lots of photo opportunities, especially of the Harbor Seal Birthing Area.

    Point Lobos State Reserve near Carmel and Monterey, with photos

    A walk around the Point Lobos State Reserve near Monterey and Carmel provides lots of photo opportunities, especially of the Harbor Seal Birthing Area.

  • This John Steinbeck California Guide, A Journey into Steinbeck's California, shows readers how towns like Monterey, Carmel and Salinas influenced the author.

    John Steinbeck California Guide

    This John Steinbeck California Guide, A Journey into Steinbeck's California, shows readers how towns like Monterey, Carmel and Salinas influenced the author.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel picks the best museums in Monterey including art and history museums, museums for families and the fantastic Monterey Bay Aquarium.

    Best Museums in Monterey

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel picks the best museums in Monterey including art and history museums, museums for families and the fantastic Monterey Bay Aquarium.

  • To John Steinbeck Monterey's Cannery Row was a place of sardine canneries, bums and honky tonks, but today the Monterey Aquarium attracts visitors.

    Cannery Row in Monterey

    To John Steinbeck Monterey's Cannery Row was a place of sardine canneries, bums and honky tonks, but today the Monterey Aquarium attracts visitors.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel's guide to where to eat in Monterey including on Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, fish restaurants and the best clam chowder.

    Where to Eat in Monterey

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's guide to where to eat in Monterey including on Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, fish restaurants and the best clam chowder.

  • The Jellies Experience jellyfish exhibition is the latest arrival at Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the top sights along the Pacific Coast Highway in California.

    The Jellies Experience jellyfish exhibition at Monterey Bay Aquarium

    The Jellies Experience jellyfish exhibition is the latest arrival at Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the top sights along the Pacific Coast Highway in California.

  • Monterey in California is off the Pacific Coast Highway and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Monterey State Historic Park.

    Monterey, on the Pacific Coast Highway in California

    Monterey in California is off the Pacific Coast Highway and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Monterey State Historic Park.

  • The Monterey Bay Aquarium on Cannery Row is one of the top sights in Monterey and along the whole Pacific Coast Highway.

    Monterey Bay Aquarium

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium on Cannery Row is one of the top sights in Monterey and along the whole Pacific Coast Highway.

  • For a Monterey Inn just off the Pacific Coast Highway in California, the Mariposa Inn and Suites is hard to beat, providing good accommodation close to PCH.

    Monterey Inn

    For a Monterey Inn just off the Pacific Coast Highway in California, the Mariposa Inn and Suites is hard to beat, providing good accommodation close to PCH.

  • The best things to do in Monterey, chosen by Pacific Coast Highway Travel, include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, whale watching and Fisherman's Wharf.

    Best Things to Do in Monterey

    The best things to do in Monterey, chosen by Pacific Coast Highway Travel, include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, whale watching and Fisherman's Wharf.



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