The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the best-known attraction in the area. And most visitors don’t realize it straddles both the City of Monterey as well as the City of Pacific Grove. But it's also one of the most expensive entry fees in town, and you don’t have to cough up $50 per adult to enjoy the marine life in the area.
Here are three other top attractions you can enjoy with your family for much less.
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
This small museum makes for a great morning or afternoon activity. And check their event calendar for talks and activities on the local animals, marine ecology and history of the area. They have several exhibits and activities that are kid-oriented, like a scavenger hunt, lots of taxidermy animals, a fossil pit they can dig in, and a willow nest and tunnel to explore in. Admission is just $8.95 for adults and $5.95 for youth, with kids 3 and under free…so you can take your whole family can enjoy the day here for the cost of one adult admission at the aquarium.
Hopkins Marine Station
Take a stroll along the Monterey Recreation Trail (watch out for bikes) towards the white buildings with the red roof. Where there’s a chain link fence, and usually a lot of people gathered, you will see a sure-fire place to spot harbor seals. If you drive, take care to park in a legal spot because the locals who live along this amazing coastline like to think it belongs only to them, so they will in misparked cars.
There are often docents in this area helping people to spot the seals. Although they may appear helpful, a few of these locals, Kim and Thom, have been instrumental in banning visitors from being able to rent local homes. So beware their purported love of the marine shoreline here. They only want you to enjoy it on their terms and only if you can afford to stay in pricey hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. And they certainly don’t want you walking up and down their streets, which they’ve made clear at city council meetings for years and led the sign campaign to keep visitors like you out of our city.
This is the West Coast’s oldest existing lighthouse and it’s still an active aid to navigation, operated by the United States Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, and owned by the City of Pacific Grove.
The lighthouse is furnished as it was in the day of keeper Emily Fish, who served from 1893 to 1914, much of it as a widow. She was also keeper during the 1906 earthquake – famed for its damage to San Francisco – but which also damaged the lens and weakened our lighthouse tower.
The lighthouse is open 1–4pm, year round, five days a week (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day). Entrance donations of $4 for adults and $2 for kids are requested (6 and under free).
A Warm Welcome in Inhospitable Times
You might wonder about the salty edge to some of my posts – the usually unspoken local stories of seal docents who rally against outsiders or town that thrives on tourism but doesn’t want visitors renting our homes. To those of you who prefer to stay in homes – travelers with kids or couples with parents or families with grandparents, those with dietary restrictions like Celiac disease that require you to cook most of your own meals, or those who can’t easily afford the high rates our hotels and bed-and-breakfasts like to charge in order to enjoy our amazing coastline – we homesharers of Pacific Grove WELCOME YOU and will continue to, even when the city bans renting to you fur under 30 days.
Contact Mel to stay at our PG Jewelbox Cottages – a main cottage with king-size bed, bathroom, kitchen, living and dining AND a carriage house with a queen bed, clawfoot tub bathroom and mini games room.