Sandwiched between Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, this laid-back coastal town will leave you California dreamin’ in no time. Nicknamed “America’s Last Hometown,” Pacific Grove combines a striking shoreline and charming downtown with lush parks and historic stop-offs.
Just a two-hour drive from San Francisco, the fresh ocean air, towering pine trees, and quaint Victorian homes are the perfect city reprieve. Whether you’ve come to bask on the beach, marvel at the butterfly migration, or snap pictures by the famed lighthouse, Pacific Grove offers the perfect mix of relaxation and culture.
From its reputation as an artists’ haven at the turn of the 20th century to one of America’s most romantic cities, Pacific Grove has cemented itself as one of California’s most desired locales. And while it’ll be difficult to tear yourself away from the upcoming Kimpton Pacific Grove Hotel – opening in 2025 – we’ve got the perfect guide for exploring this seaside sanctuary.
Eat: Indulge in All the Best Bites
Seafood, more seafood, and did we mention seafood? It doesn’t get any fresher than the fare in this former fishing village along the Pacific Ocean, and many of the local restaurants in town take pride in focusing on dock-to-dish seafood served alongside seasonal local ingredients.
For a local institution, stop into the Red House Cafe, located inside a historic red Victorian. Ideal for breakfast and lunch, it’s a go-to for townies and tourists craving eggs Benedict, classic sandwiches, burgers, pasta, and more. While a wait is likely, it’s well worth it.
When dinner rolls around, sustainable and simple is the ethos at Passionfish. Sourced from local farmers, fisheries and vineyards, they serve fantastically fresh food alongside unique wines. Don’t miss dishes like spicy fish stew, 12-hour lamb breast, and sea scallops with tomato truffle butter.
Play: Enjoy the Historic Town
Over the years, Pacific Grove’s charm has drawn the likes of John Steinbeck, Robert Louis Stevenson, Janis Joplin, and Frank Zappa to its craggy coast. And for a place with just over 15,000 people, it’s packed full of things to do.
Home to the West Coast’s oldest continually operating lighthouses, a visit to Point Pinos Lighthouse is a must. First lit with whale oil in 1855, this now fully electric lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places. Plan for a stroll there on Saturday or Sunday when it’s open for tours.
The upcoming Kimpton is within walking distance of Lovers Point Park, one of the many reasons Pacific Grove garnered its romantic reputation. Its large lawn is perfect for sunset picnics, and its sandy beaches are ideal for swimming or walking hand in hand.
But that’s just one of the area’s four protected park areas – visit Edward F. Ricketts State Marine Conservation Area or Asilomar State Marine Reserve, where visitors can scuba dive, snorkel, kayak, or whale watch.
Every year, thousands of beautiful orange and black Monarch Butterflies migrate to Pacific Grove between October and March, earning it the nickname “Butterfly Town USA.” Head to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary to safely watch these beautiful creatures perch on pine and eucalyptus trees. But watch where you step – in Pacific Grove, killing a butterfly is a $1,000 fineable offense!
Stay: Rest Easy in the Heart of Pacific Grove
After a day of strolling this seaside escape, relaxing with a glass of California red and sweeping ocean views sounds pretty swell.
Located in the city’s shopping district, near Pacific Grove Museum, the upcoming Kimpton Pacific Grove Hotel is a stone’s throw from all the best spots in town. Its 101 rooms and suites will combine a laid-back California aesthetic with Kimpton’s signature elegance, right in the middle of all that this sparkling town has to offer.
Apart from its soon-to-be knockout food and drink offerings, the hotel’s courtyard will be covered in native trees and a stunning fireplace, making it the perfect meeting place for friends, old and new. So, pack a swimsuit and a good book — the California coast is calling.
Stay tuned for Kimpton Pacific Grove in 2025.