The California central coast south of San Francisco includes the oceanside towns of Monterey and Carmel and Pacific Grove. The ocean is wild here with the smell of kelp forests and sightings of pelicans and sea otters.
Pacific Grove is a beach side town west of Monterey. It began as a Methodist retreat in 1875. It’s lovely to drive along the coast and see the range of architecture of the homes and inns along the way. The town has over 1300 historic structures! Pacific Grove points of interest include: Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continuously running lighthouse in the West; the 1883 Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History; and Pacific Grove Golf Links. http://www.cityofpacificgrove.org/
Pacific Grove created the Monarch Grove Sanctuary, a park with Monterey pines and eucalyptus trees with a microclimate that the Monarch butterflies love. The Monarch butterflies begin arriving in mid October, peak in late November/early December, and begin leaving in late February. During the butterflies’ overwintering season, docents are on hand in the sanctuary from noon to 3 pm. Head west on Lighthouse Avenue and turn left on Ridge Road. You can park on Ridge Road near The Parent’s Place and walk down the marked path along the side of the Butterfly Grove Inn to enter the Sanctuary. http://www.cityofpacificgrove.org/visiting/monarch-butterfly-sanctuary
17 Mile Drive is a winding scenic road that takes you from Pacific Grove through Pebble Beach to Carmel-by-the-Sea in about 2 hours. The drive was developed in the 1880s as an attraction for the old Hotel Del Monte, the Del Monte Forest, and eventually the Pebble Beach Golf Links. The very beginning of the road is at Del Monte Boulevard in Pacific Grove and takes you through pretty residential areas and parks. After Sunset Drive, you will come to the Pacific Grove Gate. We paid $10 to enter the drive and received a map that explains the numbered points of interest along the drive. You will wind your way through 8 golf courses, rugged ocean scenery, and some very fancy homes. There are twenty-one numbered points of interest including Bird Rock, Fanshell Overlook, Crocker Grove, and the Lone Cypress. There are good places to park and take your time viewing these landmarks. https://www.pebblebeach.com/17-mile-drive/
Carmel-by-the-Sea was founded in 1902 and grew as a haven for artistic people. The town is very charming and seems old fashioned because of its many protective ordinances. The buildings don’t have number addresses, making the post office a very popular social gathering place.
Mission San Carlos was completed in 1771 by Spanish Franciscan missionaries. Today it is a Catholic basilica and serves a local parish. The mission grounds have beautiful tropical plantings. Saint Junípero Serra is buried there. http://www.carmelmission.org/
There is an abundance of nice restaurants in Carmel. If you go, just try polling your friends about their favorite! We went to The Grill on Ocean Avenue and enjoyed it so much! The restaurant is between Lincoln and Dolores on Ocean Avenue in a cottage doorway. The menu has an old-school French feel with California ingredients. Seafood, steaks, lamb, duck, and lovely salads are on the menu. Excellent service and lots of local flavor round out the experience. http://www.thegrillcarmel.com/thegrill/
There are lots of places to stay in Monterey, some inns in Pacific Grove, and also places in Carmel-by-the-Sea. There is also resort lodging in Pebble Beach. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Wave Street near one end of Monterey’s Cannery Row. It’s a nice hotel and very convenient for walking. It does have an elevator, but it has a courtyard layout, so you do have to carry your luggage up and down some short staircases to get to your room. http://www.montereyhie.com/
Map Monterey and Carmel
- The Monterey Peninsula Toy Box
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
- Pacific Grove Heritage Home walking tour
- Top 12 Carmel restaurants from Michael Bauer
- John Steinbeck biography from the Nobel Prize
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