PG's NOAA Environmental Research Division facility
Located at 1352 Lighthouse Ave in Pacific Grove, near the Point Pinos Lighthouse, is the unobtrusive National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration building. This four acre site with a splendid view of the Monterey Peninsula coastline is one of just six regional sites for the NOAA Coast Watch program, and the only such site on the west coast (the others are in the Great Lakes, Caribbean, East Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii).
PG's new farmers market
In summer 2008, after must discussion, planning, and hand-wringing over the potential negatives, Pacific Grove finally approved their Farmer's Market. This is a nice little farmers market that has about 10 veggie booths offering all types of vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and flowers. They also have about 6 or 8 food booths, mostly from the smaller Pacific Grove restaurants like Petra, International Cuisine, Thaiwaiian, Little Chicken House, and Dos Amigos. Finally, they have a few booths selling trinkets like jewelery and toys. The night I visited they also had at least three little bands playing music on the sidewalks around the market.
This market is not as big as Monterey's Tuesday downtown farmers market or Monterey's Thursday market at Monterey Peninsula College. At the same time, this PG market has a friendlier, more intimate feel. PG also has another advantage over the MPC market... easy access to local stores and restaurants.
Pacific Grove Farmers Market every Monday on Lighthouse Avenue between Forest Avenue and 18th Street, 4 to 8 PM. The market is operated by Everyone's Harvest, the same organization that holds Marina's Sunday farmers market.
Harbor Seals "Haul Out" at Hopkins Marine Station
Hopkins Marine Station is a Stanford University research area in Pacific Grove. Their facilities sit on Cabrillo Point (also called Mussel Point), and are surrounded by an area known as Hopkins State Marine Reserve. Like other areas on the Bay, this point has sea otters, seals, and sea lions. What makes this area really unique is that it's the haul-out area of the harbor seals and where they birth their pups each year.
When I visited in Feb 2007 there were at least 100 harbor seals hauled-out on the shore, looking like a bunch of rocks. Their birthing season is during March and April. The birthing area is visible from the coastal trail, just a quarter mile northwest of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This beach area is fenced off to keep the animals and the people separate!
The harbor seals are easily distinguished from the sea lions by their silvery light gray skin with dark spots. They also do not have external ears and are much, much, much more quiet than their cousins, the mouthy sea lions (I didn't hear a word from this group!). Harbor seals swim with their back flippers and have a tough time on land. It is said that these mammals rarely associate with other harbor seals, but after seeing this scene, I beg to differ.
I was amazed to see a pair of elephant seals hauled out on this beach in April 2008. I have never before seen them here in two years, and I had read they spent most of their time at Ano Neuvo and San Simeon. The Hopkins Marine Station's website does mention that elephant seals do occasionally spend some time on this sheltered beach.
This is also a popular scuba diving area.
International Cuisine, not to be confused with International Deli a mile away in New Monterey, is one of the rare casual dining establishments in central PG. The decor is comfortable, while being clean and comfortable, except for the old cafeteria tray slides along the kitchen that looks odd and out of place.
We had lunch here and were please with the quality and amount of food. I had the gyros sandwich which was pretty pricey at $9. It was very tender and tasty, but unfortunately didn't come with fries or any other side dish. Laura had the falafel wrap (also $9 despite not having meat!) which was consumed quickly enough for me to know it was pretty good. We were in and out in no time, maybe 45 minutes, despite us taking out time sipping a beer (Gordon Biersch draft was also expensive at $5.75) and enjoying a little sunshine.
This restaurant was the location of "Chili Great Chili" for about 20 years. In 1998 they expanded their menu to include more international selections, and most recently they changed the name to focus only on the international food at the expense of chili (great chili).
The Cellar Door Chop Shoppe -- CLOSED!
The Cellar Door closed in June 2008 and was replaced by Pacific Thai.
"Most English-speaking people...will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful. ...cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent, and moving to the higher dimension, the words in which there is pleasure in the contemplation of the association of form and sense are abundant." -- JRR Tolkien
The Cellar Door in Pacific Grove has Over 700 wines available by the bottle, a nice atmosphere, and some good, but relatively expensive food. Most of us started our meals with the house dinner salad ($3) but some in our group decided to try the huge bowl of lobster bisque ($9 -- "It comes in a trough" one of my friends remarked about the giant square-shaped bowl). For our meals, we tried a little of everything on the menu including the Tender Filet of Beef, Penne Pasta with Roasted Chicken, the Seared Ahi Tuna, and a seafood ravioli among others. Steak, veal, pork, seafood and a variety of pasta dishes range in price from about $17 to $30 dollars. Add an appetizer, salad, and wine, and the very good meal will run around $30-$40 per person...not over the top, but definitely on the high end for the area.
The tiny restaurant has seating for perhaps 30 or 40 diners, in a room featuring lots of old brick, a gas fireplace, and a strong wine motif with wooden wine crates lining one wall. The staff was quick and efficient keeping our glasses full and quickly removing our used dishes.