Romantic Pacific Grove, which started life as a Methodist summer retreat in the 1870s, offers visitors an idyllic place to get married, to honeymoon or to just hang out.
A two-hour drive south of San Francisco on the very tip of the scenic, tree-shrouded Monterey Peninsula that it shares with Pebble Beach, Carmel and Monterey, Pacific Grove is famed for its rocky coastline that produces memorable scenic beauty, it’s stately Victorian mansions that have become charming bed and breakfast inns, it’s Victorian-flavored downtown of small boutiques, gift shops, art galleries, antique stores and restaurants that looks more at home at the turn of the last century than it does at the start of the new millennium and more.
There is much to see and do in Pacific Grove.
Some of the highlights are the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium on the border between Pacific Grove and Monterey, some of the entrances to the awesome beauty of the 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, the Asilomar Conference Grounds and State Beach and Lover’s Point, a city park and beach that lives up to its romantic name.
To enjoy the majestic coastline of Pacific Grove with its wind-blown cypress trees that hug the rocky shores, visitors can drive, walk or bicycle on shorefront streets, bicycle trails and lanes and pedestrian paths. You can picnic in waterfront parks, on benches along the walking trails or in your car parked along the shore with the surf pounding against the rocks. Or you watch sea otters and sea lions frolicking in the water or sunning themselves on the offshore rocks. For an up close and personal look at Monterey Bay, visit the tide polls along several stretches of the coastline, but don’t disturb anything because Monterey Bay is a marine sanctuary.
Water sports include scuba diving in spots that are ideal for beginners and of special underwater scenic interest to experienced divers, as well as challenging surfing and exhilarating kayaking.
The Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest, continuous lighthouse on the West Coast, stands at the point of the Monterey Peninsula, the Monterey Bay on one side and the open Pacific Ocean on the other side.
The lighthouse is surrounded by the Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Links, known as “the poor man’s Pebble Beach” for its scenic beauty much like the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links that are shown on national television, but with much lower green fees.
The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History in the downtown is an acclaimed small museum that is treasured by local residents and visitors.
Among the many visitors are brightly colored orange-and-black Monarch butterflies, who overwinter in Pacific Grove after traveling up to 2,000 miles, arriving by the thousands starting in October, peaking around Christmas and departing before the end of February.
For more information, phone the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce office at 831-373-3304 or visit the Tourist Information Center, located at 100 Central Ave. at the entranced to Pacific Grove and is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.