Everyone knows about beautiful Asilomar State Beach, Lovers Point Park, and the Monarch Butterfly Refuge, but there are other quiet, natural places in Wander in Pacific Grove, that have fewer tourists. Besides Asilomar, the city has about 168 acres of shoreline parks, local neighborhood parks, and larger community parks.
George Washington Park is just over 20 acres and is the city's largest park. It is mostly forest with a few trails, but it also has a ball field and picnic areas.
Shoreline Park Network consists of 23.4 acres, and is really a series of smaller parks and recreational areas on the coastal edge of the city, including Lovers Point, Berwick Park, Perkins Park, and the Coastal Recreation Trail.
Rip Van Winkle Park is a 20 acre park next to Pebble Beach that has walking paths allowing access to 17 Mile Drive.
On Central Avenue you might notice an odd-looking 8 foot tall golden statue of local author John Steinbeck in front of an overgrown, run down shack of a mansion. This is a notorious local icon known by some as the Steinbeck Statue, and known by others as the Colossus of Gold.
What the odd statue officially marked was the John Steinbeck Arthurian Society Museum in the old Elizabeth Hamilton House. Attached to the house is a cottage built by Steinbeck himself, and what became Steinbeck's grandmother's summer cottage. It was here that PG resident Richard Andolsen created a unique museum dedicated to the study of Steinbeck's fondness for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Andolsen died in June 2007 and the house looks like it has hardly been touched since. At least the bushes around the statue were finally trimmed in April 2008.
A PG resident named Snick Farkas writes a frequent comic about a seaside town called Specific Groove featuring a fictional Colossus of Gold that was struck by lightning and comes to life to protect this troubled town. His comics are somewhat entertaining for us locals, as they always poke fun at local politics.
Its location is 222 Central Avenue in PG, near the Monterey line.
Ketcham's Barn was built in downtown PG some hundred years ago. The barn itself is not much these days, but there is a nice little open area adjacent, which contains a nice fountain, several benches, and some beautiful plants.
Since 1982 the Pacific Grove Heritage Society has been housed in this old barn. Inside you will often find a cheerful volunteer who can tell you about PG's past, or you can just wander around the small interior looking at old items such as 100 year old photos, a player piano, various pieces of furniture, and artifacts from the old religious retreat days.
The barn is located at Laural and 17th Streets, and is only open Saturdays from 1pm until 4pm. Entrance is free.
The Holman's building is a landmark location in the heart of downtown Pacific Grove. Holman's was built in 1924 and was the largest department store on the Monterey Peninsula. The top two floors were added in 1931. The store was so big and popular, Highway 68, also known as the Holman Highway, was constructed partly to bring customers to the shopping establishment from Carmel. In 1985 the store was purchased by a Watsonville department store and became known as Ford's of Monterey Bay. This store closed just a few years later.
Today the old department store has become Holman's Antique Mall. This is really an amazing store, with a stunning array of extremely expensive antiques. I would never spend a dime here, but now that I've seen the place, it's become a standard stop on my tours of PG. I started in the basement where old naked mermaid fountains that could have adorned the Hearst Castle stand for sale for around $10,000 each. I was also impressed by the giant bar in the back that towers at least 15 feet tall, if not higher... I don't know how they got in in the store, or how they would ever get it out. Back upstairs check out the pair of 7-foot tall eagle statues for $8,500 each or the 6-foot tall Japanese vase that has been marked down from $8,000 to only $4,500.
The inventory here is incredible and almost everything is flawless. Certainly the most amazing collection of antiques under one roof I have ever seen... not your average flea market crap!
St. Mary's By the Sea, located at Central Avenue & 12th Street in PG, was completed and opened on July 10th, 1887, making this the oldest surviving church in a town built around religion. This beautiful and large structure is painted a deep red on the outside and constructed mainly of local redwood lumber. It is built in the old English Gothic style and stands in the pines within view of the Monterey Bay. the inside of the church is finished in natural pine, cedar, redwood and walnut, polished and varnished. The steeple stands 75 feet above the ground. The parish hall was designed by architect Ernest Coxhead, and built in 1893. Also of interest are the two Tiffany windows from 1922.
Each July for more than 50 years the church has held an Antiques Show and Sale; admission is about $6.
Favorite thing: Pleasant Lighthouse Avenue has the look and feel of an old fashioned neighborhood commercial street. This pedestrian friendly street serves as downtown for Pacific Grove. Here shops and restaurants catering to both tourists and locals lined each side of the street where many Victorian buildings can be observed.
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).
Favorite thing: Some of the best views of Monterey Bay are on Ocean View Blvd; at Lovers Leap there is a pile of boulders you can walk to. From these boulders you get great views of the bay, the town, and if you come at the right time, sunrise or sunset. There are many other great places along Ocean View Blvd and Sunset Drive that have spectacular views, only I probably didn't find them on my trip.
Favorite thing: Asilomar State Beach, everytime I have been here there are surfers out in the water, great fun to watch.
Favorite thing: View of the ocean, there are so many beautiful ocean views on this part of the coast. It's very relaxing.
Favorite thing: The boardwalk entrance from the beach to the Asilomar Confrence grounds. There are many animals on the grounds we saw deer, racoons, and foxes all running around the grounds.
Favorite thing: This is the lodge at Asilomar Conference grounds. I have been here twice for conferences it is a great place to stay with beach access and lots of places to walk.