Hotel at a Glance: Lighthouse Lodge and Cottages
Nestled into the tip of the Monterey Peninsula—less than 10 minutes from Monterey itself—the Lighthouse Lodge and Cottages provides comfortable accommodations just a few blocks from the coast. The property's namesake lighthouse has been in continuous operation for 150 years, making it easy to find your way home after evenings strolling the beach.
- Spacious rooms: Lodge rooms come with a refrigerator, microwave, and a 32-inch television.
- Start the day right with a complimentary deluxe breakfast buffet
- Take a dip in the heated outdoor pool and spa
- Fireside sunsets: Wind down each evening on the guest patio, outfitted with fire pits
- Bring Rex along: The lodge is pet friendly (extra fee)
- Whale watching: Talk to the staff about the best way to go whale watching—gray whales and dolphins will be most prevalent here until early April.
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 Fodor's, 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.