Old-Fashioned Lodge Close to Beach and Historic Lighthouse
Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast, sits on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula. It was built in 1855 to warn ships away from this hazardous point, and today, exhibits inside highlight historic photographs of local shipwrecks. Visitors can also see the original lens—still in place and functional—and learn how the lighting and foghorn function. Located just a short walk away from the lighthouse is the Olympia Lodge, which occupies a pine-studded lot that's convenient to many of Monterey Bay's attractions. It’s only five minutes from the beach and coastal walking trails and just a half mile from the galleries, shops, and fine-dining restaurants of downtown Pacific Grove.
Much like the neighboring Point Pinos, Olympia Lodge has a historical feel to it. The property's not nearly as old, but touches such as the in-lobby fireplace, creaky wooden decks, and handmade wooden furniture lend it some old-fashioned charm. All of the rooms have been recently remodeled, however, and are simply decorated—some with slanted ceilings and exposed wood beams.
Mornings at the lodge begin with a complimentary continental breakfast. In the evening, head down to the reading area beside the fireplace for a serving of coffee and tea.
Pacific Grove, California: Sleepy Coastal Town Close to Lively Cannery Row
The oceanfront town of Pacific Grove shares its central California peninsula with the city of Monterey, but is far more serene than its cosmopolitan neighbor. Rows of Victorian houses line the streets, deer wander through residential areas, and thousands of butterflies congregate here during their southerly migration. Travel + Leisure named Pacific Grove one of America's Best Little Beach Towns, noting that the beach is better suited for surfing and kayaking than swimming. Stroll the pathway that winds along the rocky shore, taking in the many native plants and bird colonies that make their homes on the 3-mile stretch.
The town’s interior is fairly small and easily walkable. Mom-and-pop-style shops and art galleries line the streets of downtown Pacific Grove. The area's also home to the Museum of Natural History, where you can learn more about the monarch butterflies found throughout the town.
Head to nearby Monterey if you want to pick up the pace. The city's Cannery Row, once the laid-back dock famously portrayed by John Steinbeck, has since been enlivened by theme restaurants, souvenir stalls, and a wax museum. The popular Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on one end of the strip, and has been featured by Fodors, Frommer's, and the Discovery Channel for its immersive displays of local sea life. Here, you can watch sardines swim around you in a circular tank and see an open-ocean tank filled with sharks and sea turtles. Kids will love the interactive exhibits at the Splash Zone, which has a living, breathing kelp forest they can walk through while touching pools filled with starfish and sea urchins.
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