town in Monterey County, California, United States

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 the town reputedly has more Victorian homes per capita than anywhere else in America. Pacific Grove is also the wintering-over spot for thousands of Monarch butterflies, from which its nickname, "Butterfly Town, U.S.A.," is derived.

Point Pinos Light, the oldest working lighthouse on the West Coast

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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 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.

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Access to Pacific Grove is via Monterey or Carmel. Take Monterey-Salinas Transit bus route 1, 1x or 2 from Monterey. Pacific Grove is a short, ten-minute taxi ride from Monterey Peninsula Airport (see Monterey).

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Pacific Grove is a small town, and much of it can be seen on foot or by bicycle. 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.

  • Adventures by the Sea, Beach at Lover's Point, +1 831 372-1807. Bicycle rental. 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.

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  • 1 Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, 165 Forest Ave, +1 831 648-5716, . W-Su 10AM-4PM. A museum dedicated to the natural history of the Monterey Bay area, with many exhibits geared toward children. $8.95/adult, $5.95/student/youth.    
  • 2 Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, 250 Ridge Rd (Between Lighthouse Avenue and Short St. 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.
  • 3 Point Pinos Lighthouse, 80 Asilomar Ave (between Lighthouse Ave and Del Monte Blvd), +1 831 648-5722. Sa-Su 1-3PM. The oldest continually operating lighthouse on the West Coast, having begun operating in 1855. The lighthouse/museum/giftshop are closed due to COVID, but the grounds/gardens are open whenever there are docents available. $2/adult, $1/child.    
  • Jameson Classic Motorcycle Museum, 305 Forest Ave, +1 831 331-3335. Winter Sa-Su Noon-4PM, Summer Sa-Su Noon-5PM. Small local museum.
  • 4 Lover's Point Park, 631 Ocean View Blvd. Public park and beach.  

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Perkins Park along the Pacific Coast
  • 1 17-Mile Drive. Drive or bicycle along this spectacular route. 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, including the iconic Lone Cypress tree and the Pebble Beach golf course lodge. The entrance fee provides a map, as well as the rights to gawk at the lavish homes within the gated community. Motorcycles are not permitted. $10 entry fee.    
  • 2 Asilomar State Beach. A one-mile strip of sand and rocky coves, this beach offers a 0.75-mile-long (1.2 km) walking trail, with tide pools that can be explored. Across the street, a boardwalk leads through the Asilomar Dunes, a restored area of sand dunes. Upwelling of frigid waters from the undersea Monterey Canyon makes this area far too cold for swimming, but it is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers due to the huge variety of marine life.    
  • 3 Ocean View Boulevard & Sunset Drive. Ocean View Boulevard and Sunset Drive run along the coastline, offering access to a spectacular landscape. The area is strewn with tide pools, and sea otters, seals and sea lions are often seen in the waters; whales may be sighted by those who are lucky. A bike path runs along much of the route making it an excellent place to bike or hike.

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  • Mezzaluna Pasteria & Mozzarella Bar, 1188 Forest Ave, +1 831 372-5325. Gnocchi and other foo-foo fare. $50-100.
  • 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.
  • 1 il vecchio, 110 Central Ave, +1-831-324-4282, . Daily 5-9:30PM. Casual Italian eatery design with reclaimed wood giving it a homely feel. Decent portions, many small plates, house made pasta and desserts. Wine on tap and Italian apertif are a speciality. Make a reservation on the weekends! $7-20 without alcohol.

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  • Monterey - Pacific Grove's neighbor to the east, Monterey was founded in 1770 and served as the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico, was a bustling fishing port until the 1950s, and is now a major tourist destination. Attractions include a pier filled with seafood restaurants, a world-class aquarium, a harbor that is home to an enormous number of seabirds, sea lions, sea otters, seals, and other marine life, the historic Cannery Row, and opportunities for whale watching, kayaking, or other excursions into Monterey Bay.
  • Carmel - 6 miles (10 km) to the south, Carmel is a beautiful oceanside town that is home to the historic Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, several large beaches, excellent restaurants and an abundance of upscale lodging. It borders the iconic Pebble Beach golf course and is the entry point to the 17-mile (25-km) drive and its dramatic ocean views.
Routes through Pacific Grove
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This city travel guide to Pacific Grove is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.