Pacific Grove is only a 40 minute drive from my house, and yet, I had only been there a handful of times in my life. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in exploring, I just figured it was a small town with not much going on. But after a sunny Saturday playing tourist with Joey in PG, I realized one day was probably not enough time to get to know this quaint town by the sea, rightfully donning the title of Butterfly Town USA.
Our first stop of the day was brunch at Crema. I had been here once before with a friend who actually lives in PG. It’s her favorite restaurant and so I figured it may be nice to stop by a second time and order something I didn’t get a chance to try on my first visit. The first time I was here, I tried the Crema Crab Cakes and Eggs. They were amazing, melt-in-your-mouth delicious! And I don’t even really like seafood, but these were under the House Favorites list so I just had to know what the buzz was about!
This time around, I ordered something sweet rather than savory. The Spiced Apples and Toasted Pecan Waffles not only sounded like a Gilmore Girls’ Fall Festival in your mouth, but the fact that I could add vanilla ice cream along with the maple syrup and whipped cream topping was enough to make my heart skip a beat. It was so delicious, and not at all too much or too sweet (I didn’t order the ice cream btw).
Joey ordered the Good Morning Breakfast Sammy which consisted of classic breakfast foods all in-between some golden grilled Texas Toast. I am going to assume that it was to die for because it takes an epic meal to get Joey to be silent for an entire sitting.
Although Crema is a highly popular spot in town, you probably won’t be waiting an eternity for a table. When we arrived, we were given a wait time of 20-25 minutes, which is totally reasonable considering how great the service and food is. In the end, we waited about 10 minutes max. Our waitress, Julie, was sweet and attentive. She answered all our coffee questions (Their coffee is amazing too! We recommend the Verve Coffee Latte!) and made sure our order was just what we wanted. The turnaround was also quick enough to get you up and out to enjoy your day, but the ambiance was calm and warm enough to make you want to stay for a second cup of coffee (which they totally encourage! We just had so much on our to-do list!)
With our bellies full and content, we walked about 2 minutes to get to the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. To our delight, there was a celebration going on right outside the museum! There were at least 30 kids playing and enjoying some chocolate cake in celebration of Sandy the Whale’s birthday! We didn’t grab cake, but all of the commotion sure got us excited to actually go into the building.
Another win for us was that it was Science Saturday, which means admission is free of charge, as long as we fill out a survey upon entry. Typically it is about $9 per adult and $x per child.
As we walked in, the first thing you notice, of course, is the tall California Bear standing in all his glory. Throughout the museum, there are examples of spectacular animals and insects that can be found in the area. Some of my favorites included the wall with the Butterflies of Monterey County, as well as all of the cute taxidermized otters, squirrels, and birds.
We also learned a bit about how the Chinese immigrants that first arrived in Pacific Grove were the ones that built the foundation for the land and economy to thrive. The Chinese were successful, but unfortunately were met with many forms of racism throughout the late 1800’s.
It was eye opening to learn the history of this town, and know that the hardworking group of people that built it were being recognized today with pride.
As we went along, there was artwork showcasing some of the beautiful landscapes found here in Monterey County. One thing that I love and admire about the Central Coast is that we are very supportive of our artists, and try our best to showcase each other’s work as much as possible.
The Native Plant Garden located at the end of the museum houses plants that are meant to attract specific insects like bumble bees and hummingbirds. It isn’t currently peak season so we didn’t see much action. Nonetheless, it was the perfect place to sit and reflect on what we had just learned.
The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History is a great place for kids to learn and interact with nature. They even host birthday parties just like Sandy’s! For information on tickets or events, visit their website: https://www.pgmuseum.org/ and be sure to browse some of their pictures on Instagram as well!
Next stop was a five minute drive away to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. The actual sanctuary is a little difficult to spot. Your GPS will tell you that you’ve arrived when you get to a peach colored set of housing units labeled Butterfly Grove Inn. Right next door, you’ll find a passage way towards the back of these buildings. As you approach the tall trees, you’ll spot a huge wooden monarch. That’s your sign that you’re in the right place. Like the Native Plant Garden, it wasn’t exactly peak season at the sanctuary so spotting a monarch took a bit of concentration. We did spot quite a few and were just entranced by their beauty fluttering all around. If you want to experience peak season, plan a trip sometime between October and December. I’ve seen photos of branches saturated in butterflies during that time of year!
To plan a visit to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, visit the PG city website: https://www.cityofpacificgrove.org/visiting/monarch-butterfly-sanctuary It is free admission, but a fun place to stop by if you’re passing through.
After a quick wardrobe change and 3 minute drive, we arrived at the Point Pinos Lighthouse.
Three things to keep in mind when visiting Point Pinos: 1) Golf carts will be zipping past you all around. You’re essentially entering a golf course, so be aware of your surroundings, 2) There will probably be deer everywhere. They are beautiful, but it’s probably best not to disturb them, and keep aware of your surroundings, 3) The view of the Pacific is the most stunning I have ever seen. Be aware of your surroundings.
You’ll probably want to stay outside surrounded by the lighthouse greenery feeling the cool breeze from the ocean, but trust me, you have to pay the inside a visit as well. When you walk in, you’ll immediately be tempted to take so many pictures because of how cute and cozy it feels. You’ll be greeted by volunteers that are beyond excited to tell you the history of this unique landmark. Our favorite knowledgeable volunteer was Ruth. She was a kind older woman who was adorably giddy to tell us everything about Point Pinos, and lighthouses in general. Her favorite room there was originally a closet. But when the first female lightkeeper was appointed, Charlotte Layton, she realized the closet was in the way of probably one of the most spectacular views from the lighthouse. And she was right. You’ll also learn some more scientific, even mathematical facts, about the lighthouse, and how it was managed during World War II, as well as how it is operated today.
Admission is a $4 donation per adult, $2 donation per child age 6-16, and free for under 6.
Oh and don’t forget to press the button to hear the original horn!
After learning about the history about the land and sea, it was time for a coffee break.
Bookworks, located on one of the main streets of the town, Lighthouse Avenue, is a coffee shop-bookstore hybrid that seems to be a go-to for many PG inhabitants. The coffee shop portion was jam packed with people actually conversing with other people! There were also what looked like students typing frantically on their computers, and others having meetings of sorts.
Joey ordered an individual sized carrot cake while I chose a never-fail chocolate croissant. We both decided to ordered an iced mocha with whipped cream because it was still sunny and lukewarm out, even at 4 o’ clock in the afternoon. We found a table outside and sat in admiration of this small town we had so quickly grown to love. The sights were exquisite and the people we encountered were as cheerful as can be.
For reference, we spent about $18 bucks on drinks and pastries, the typical price range at your everyday coffee shop.
Once we were covered in crumbs and revamped thanks to the coffee and sugar, we headed back in to explore the bookstore section, clearly marked with a painted index finger on the wall.
The bookstore was small, but full of colorful covers and stuffed animals. There was a big cozy chair that made me want to grab a copy of Alice in Wonderland and order another iced mocha with extra whipped cream and call it a day!
Bookworks is a great location for people like me that need a public place to get in the zone and get some work done while sipping on a yummy beverage. The bookstore is also great, and another under the "Kid Friendly" category. Visit their instagram and website for more about their brews and future events: https://www.bookworkspg.com/
Just before sunset, Joey and I headed towards the water for our last two stops on the itinerary.
To get to the Coastal Recreational Trail, you can park pretty much anywhere on Ocean Boulevard and start walking along the coast line. The views are magnificent, many know this, as will become apparent when you see the large groups of tourists roaming around. But don't worry, it's not a tourist trap by any means.
When you get to Ocean Boulevard and 17th Street, you'll spot a few statues, including one of a small boy pointing out to sea while holding a sailboat. This is Lover's Point Park. Just beyond this park you'll find Lover's Point Beach. It's a pristine beach perfect for picnics and cuddles with your loved one while the waves serenade the moment.
Joey and I people watched for a bit, and reflected back on our adventure filled day. His favorite part was breakfast at Crema. My favorite part was the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. I'm sure we will be back soon to explore some more of what Pacific Grove has to offer!
Thank you to Crema, the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, Point Pinos Lighthouse and their volunteers, Bookworks, and the lovely people of PG we came across during our visit. (This is not an ad and I am in no way sponsored).
Thank you for reading!
-The B of V