Pacific Grove is in Monterey County in the Central Coast region of California. It is next to the Pacific Ocean on Monterey Bay just west of the city of Monterey. Popular for its quaint, small-town charm, Pacific Grove is the wintering-over spot for thousands of Monarch butterflies, from which its nickname, "Butterfly Town, U.S.A.," is derived.
The first European to land in Pacific Grove was Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo, in 1542. The first settlement in the area, however, was in 1855, when the Point Pinos Lighthouse began operation. It still stands and is the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the West Coast. Lighthouse Road, one of the two main streets in Pacific Grove, was originally constructed to bring supplies from Monterey to Point Pinos.
Many Chinese immigrants settled near the shore beginning in 1863, forming a "Chinatown." Most worked as fishermen out of the harbor in Monterey.
The bulk of Pacific Grove was initially a summer Methodist camp. Worshippers each had a plot of land on which they erected tents. Over time, they began erecting more permanent structures, and some relocated to the area. Most of the structures in Pacific Grove date to the Victorian era, and many are small, dollhouse-like homes. Until 1890, there was a fence around Pacific Grove, providing a visual border between this small religious community and its neighbors.
The easiest way to reach Pacific Grove is by car. From San Francisco and points north, drivers can come by Route 1 (the most scenic, but slower, route) or take Highway 101 south to Highway 156 to Highway 1.
From points south, drivers can take the slow but scenic Route 1, or take Highway 101 north to Highway 68 west to Route 1 south.
Amtrak's Coast Starlight train stops in Salinas, CA. From the Salinas transit center, take the Monterey-Salinas Transit route 21 or 56 to Monterey. In downtown Monterey, connect to the 1, 1x or 2 to Pacific Grove.
The Monterey Peninsula Airport has flights several times a day. Non-stop flights come to Monterey Peninsula Airport from San Francisco, Los Angeles International Airport, Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas on the airlines United, American, US Airways and Allegiant Air. Pacific Grove is a short, ten-minute taxi ride from the airport.
Pacific Grove is a small town, and much of it can be seen on foot or by bicycle. Bicycles can be rented locally from Adventures by the Sea, Beach at Lover's Point, Pacific Grove, ☎ (831) 372-1807, . , which has locations on the beach in Pacific Grove, on Cannery Row and elsewhere along the recreation trail in Monterey, and on 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach.
Local buses from Monterey-Salinas Transit are a convenient way to travel to Monterey and elsewhere on the Peninsula, although all connections are via downtown Monterey.
Visitors planning to take a day trip to Big Sur or Carmel Valley are advised to bring a car (unless they are hardcore bikers).
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, 165 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, ☎ (831) 648-5716, . Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. A museum dedicated to the natural history of the Monterey Bay area, with many exhibits geared toward children.Free; suggested donation $3.
Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, Ridge Road between Lighthouse Avenue and Short Street (A sidewalk leads between two sets of buildings from Ridge Road to the Sanctuary. It looks like a foot path to one of the houses, but it's not.), . Dawn to dusk. Museum docents are available every day from November through mid February from noon-3PM. One of the most popular resting spots for Monarch butterflies in the winter half of their migration pattern. Thousands settle there from October to March. They may look like dead leaves until you look closer. Bring binoculars.Free.
Point Pinos Lighthouse, Asilomar Ave. between Lighthouse Ave. and Del Monte Blvd., . Th-M 1-4PM. The oldest continually operating lighthouse on the West Coast.$1 for children, $2 for adults.
Motor along 17-Mile Drive. The northern end is in Pacific Grove and it runs though the gated community of Pebble Beach. The road winds through miles of breathtaking coastal views, with turnouts along the way at the most historical and picturesque sites. Be sure to take a picture of the Lone Cypress tree. There is a $9.50 entrance fee to the Pebble Beach part. The fee provides a map, as well as the rights to gawk at the lavish homes within the gated community. Motorcycles are not permitted.
Fifi's Bistro Cafe, 1188 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove, California 93950, ☎ 831.372.5325, . Fifi's is a cozy, uncomplicated French bistro with excellent food at reasonable prices.$12-15 lunch /$16-27 dinner / watch for specials.
Pepper's Mexicali Cafe, 170 Forest Ave. . Off of the main road through downtown Pacific Grove, Pepper's offers fantastic mexicali cuisine, especially their seafood dishes, and is one of the best spots to go to for lunch.
Holly's Lighthouse Cafe, 602 Lighthouse Ave. (831) 372-7006. Hands-down one of the best places for breakfast in the area.