Located on the far western tip of the Monterey Peninsula on Monterey Bay is the small coastal town of Pacific Grove. Like Carmel, Pacific Grove exudes charm and sophistication that is wrapped in a small town feel. The many Victorian Homes that dot the streets and foliage along the coast actually put the town on the record book as having the most Victorian homes in America. The border of Pacific Grove begins just steps from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and extends to the Pacific Coast. Much of the town is on the coast with multi million dollar residents perched along scenic drives that over look the bay and ocean. With abundant parking along the ocean front drives, Pacific Grove is one of the more ideal locations to park and photograph the dramatic scenery of gigantic rocks rising out of the ocean and starfish covered beaches and wade pools that is typically of Monterey Bay. The commercial district of Pacific Grove (along Light House Ave) is home to gourmet restaurants, antique shopping and delicious bakeries. Pacific Grove has become famous in recent years for being home of the annual Monarch Butterfly migration. Every year between November and February, millions of Monarch butterflies cling to the pine trees in Pacific Grove making for a beautiful sight and major natural event. In addition to taking in its small town atmosphere and Monarchs, Pacific Grove is also famous for its golf course, coastal drives and light house.
Pacific Grove can easily be explored in half a day and with several Inns and smaller hotels is a good alternative to Carmel for those visitors looking for the coastal town feel. If arriving in winter, (between November and February) definitely check out the Monarchs, an annual migration of hundreds of thousands of Monarch Butterflies that arrive and reside in the Pine Trees of Pacific Grove (click here to see more).
There are two main areas to see when visiting Pacific Grove, the coast and the town. The coast can be reached by taking Ocean View Avenue from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Ocean View Avenue travels to the end point and main southeast entrance to Monterey Bay before turning south and becoming Sunset Drive. It is at this location where Ocean View Ave becomes Sunset Drive that the Pacific Grove Golf Links is located as well as the historic Point Pinos Light House. Sunset Drive then follows the coastline south where after two miles it turns to the east and intersects the main entrance gate to the 17 mile drive. All along either Sunset Drive or Ocean View Ave are breathtaking views of the bay and the Pacific Ocean. Throughout a journey on these drives are ample designated parking areas where visitors can hop out and take in the natural beauty. This part of the California coast is full of gigantic sand color rock that stand up to 20 feet tall at the edge of the shore where every crash of a wave makes for an awesome photo opportunity. For those who want to get closer to the water's edge, there are paths that extend from Ocean View Ave and Sunset Drive down on to the beach where you can explore the sea life that makes its home near the beach.
Along the point where Ocean View Ave becomes Sunset Drive is the Pacific Grove Golf Course. A full 18 hole course, golfers on this course can enjoy the amazing views and fresh air between holes. Along the golf course's edge at Sunset Drive and Ocean View Avenue are restrooms. In the distance at this same area and obvious to anyone driving through is it he Point Pinos Lighthouse. It is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast and has been in operation since 1855.
Lover's Point is located on Ocean View Ave about halfway between the golf course and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is a full park where visitors can park their cars, bring their dogs and a picnic and enjoy the beautiful views and relaxation. Visitors to the park have a choice between fresh manicured lawns or to go down onto the beach itself. There is a kid's swimming pool at the park and many wading opportunities into the ocean (although the Pacific in these parts is COLD!).
The actual town of Pacific Grove is located on Lighthouse Drive. The center of town is full of a variety of shops, bakeries and upscale restaurants (Pacific Grove is home to Passion Fish one of the more popular dining venues in all of Monterey). The whole town takes on a feel of a small New England town rather than a locale located in California.