Top Things to Do in Pacific Grove, California

  • 01 of 06

    Take a Scenic Drive

    Overview of Pacific Grove coastline
    ••• Doug Steakley / Getty Images

    Pacific Grove is one of the Monterey Peninsula's overlooked treasures. People just get too excited to see Monterey and Carmel and they don't take the time to check out the town in between. That's too bad because it's just full of things you really want to see and do.

    Pacific Grove's waterfront runs along the edge of the Monterey Bay between the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Pebble Beach. The town doesn't allow development on its waterfront, which leaves every one of its beaches and scenic points natural and unobstructed.

    You can take a drive along the coastal road in Pacific Grove and see sights as beautiful as the famous 17-Mile Drive, without paying an entrance fee. The road passes along the coastline of the Monterey Bay past Lover's Point, near a scenic lighthouse and to some breathtaking vista points, and you can see it all for free.

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  • 02 of 06

    Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

    Migrating Monarch butterflies in Monterey Bay California horizontal
    ••• milehightraveler / Getty Images

    Gorgeous orange and black monarch butterflies spend one winter of their life cycle in the trees in Pacific Grove, where they sleep in big clusters in the trees to keep warm. In the morning, they wake up in the morning and take flight, looking like bunches of orange leaves fluttering into the sunshine.

    The city takes its role as a home for the migrating monarchs so seriously that they enacted a law making it a misdemeanor to kill or threaten a butterfly. If you break it, you could pay up to a $1000 fine.

    The Monarch Grove Sanctuary is on Ridge Road between Lighthouse Avenue and Short Street.

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  • 03 of 06

    Point Pinos Lighthouse

    Point Pinos Lighthouse
    ••• ©2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Point Pinos Lighthouse is located just a short distance from the coast and it's well worth a stop when it's open.

    To start, it's the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast (since 1855). It had not just one but two woman light keepers, and it's in one of the most beautiful locations on the coast. The design is also unique, and you may see deer walking on the golf course next door.

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  • 04 of 06

    Victorian Architecture

    Dr Hart's Mansion, Pacific Grove, CA
    ••• photo by Chris Axe / Getty Images

    Some of Pacific Grove's "painted ladies" Victorian-style houses are as lovely as their sisters in San Francisco. And there are plenty of them. ​​The Pacific Grove Heritage Society has approved more than 500 of them to wear green plaques showing the year they were built and their original owner.

    Several of the Victorian beauties are now bed and breakfast inns, but there are plenty of beautiful examples all over town, and you can take a self-guided walking tour around town to see some of them.

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  • 05 of 06

    Asilomar State Beach

    Walking on Asilomar Beach at Sunset
    ••• Myles Tan/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    This pretty beach is the last stop before you reach Pebble Beach and the 17-Mile Drive. It has a gentle slope, rolling waves and lots of sand. It's popular with locals, and even if you don't want to get sand between your toes, there's also a beautiful cliffside walk, too.

    It's close enough that you can walk to the Asilomar Conference Center to see the thirteen buildings on the grounds which were designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan.

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  • 06 of 06

    17-Mile Drive

    ••• View on the 17-Mile Drive. Paul Giamou / Getty Images

    You'll pay a fee to drive through the exclusive Pebble Beach community on the 17-Mile Drive, but even though the scenic drive mentioned above is just as pretty, it does offer bragging rights to say you've been there.

    The 17-Mile Drive also has some pretty fantastic views and fabled sights.