If you’re around on the last Saturday of July head to Pacific Grove for the Feast of Lanterns, a unique faux Chinese festival with processions, fireworks, and food stalls
Pacific Grove is a small coastal city in Monterey Country, with a population of around 15,000. It is renowned for its historical architecture: it has more historical houses per capita than anywhere else in California. In fact no less than 75% of the houses there are considered historical! The writer Robert Louis Stevenson is just one of the many who have been charmed by the place: “I have never been in any place so dreamlike. Indeed, it was not so much like a deserted town as like a scene upon the stage by daylight, and with no one on the boards.”
En Plein Air
From the end of the 19th century, Pacific Grove, like the neighbouring cities of Carmel and Monterey, became a haven for artists. Artists from the ‘en pleir air’ school wanted an outdoor venue with unique natural beauty, and this stretch of the Pacific coastline was where they found it. Amazingly, considering all the artists around, this was also California’s last ‘dry’ town, prohibiting the sale of liquor right up until 1969.
A King’s Welcome
Pacific Grove’s nickname is “Butterfly Town, USA,” referring to the many thousands of Monarch butterflies that descend on it every winter. Check out the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, and bring some binoculars. Every year in early October the city also holds a Butterfly Parade to herald the return of the Monarch butterfly to its wintering habitat.
From Pacific Grove you can drive along the scenic 17-Mile Drive, taking in iconic sights such as the Lone Cypress, and you can also enjoy the Museum of Natural History, which is dedicated to the extraordinary wildlife of the Monterey Bay area, and the Point Pinos Lighthouse, which is the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the West Coast.
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