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The Undiscovered Monterey Peninsula

Part 1: Pacific Grove

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(From time to time the SSCS blog will feature short profiles of interesting attractions in and around SSCS headquarters, written by blog staff. The series kicks off with this post, about a little town called Pacific Grove.)

Visitors come from around the world to take in the beauty of the Monterey Peninsula. While Carmel, Pebble Beach and the City of Monterey head the list of attractions, I always preferred a little town called Pacific Grove (which everyone around here calls, “P.G.”). I preferred it so much I lived there 16 years.

pg_mapNot that P.G. doesn’t get its share of kudos. Life magazine called it “The Most Romantic City in the U.S.” a few years ago and you’ll find it on countless lists of best small towns to visit. But the reason I like Pacific Grove is because it’s quiet and remote. It’s stuck way out on the end of the Peninsula (see left) and you have to make an effort to get there.

This means that even on crowded summer weekends there’s less traffic and noise. The speed limit downtown is 15 miles an hour. Herds of deer leisurely stroll down city streets. There’s this persistent rumor that mountain lions prowl the town’s more desolated areas, but I haven’t seen one yet. It’s one of the foggiest cities on the Peninsula which adds to the mystique. It’d be a pretty good setting for a mystery or a ghost story.

So what else makes P.G. special? Well, there’s a small, but visible surfing culture, though everyone wears wetsuits because the water is so cold. If you can deal with that, though, Asilomar Beach is considered by local residents (P.G. residents refer to themselves as “Pagrovians”) as the best beach in the world that never gets crowded. Here’s a peek:

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P.G.’s nickname is “America’s Last Hometown”. City Hall, recently remodeled, gives you a sense of where they’re going with that:

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P.G.’s also famous for its Victorian houses which add to its special (some might say, spooky) vibe:

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If you like tiny little houses stacked up next to each other like paperbacks on a bookshelf, P.G.’s for you. Here they can be seen inclining down towards the Bay:

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Speaking of the Bay, Lover’s Point Park has something for everyone. You can bike, kayak, run, play volleyball, swim or just hang out. It has a solid restaurant with views, The Beach House, which recently opened and fits nicely with its surroundings.

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What I’ve pointed out so far can be found in most tourism books, but I thought I’d end this post by calling your attention to a couple of P.G. landmarks that are personal favorites. After all, they call this blog, “The Undiscovered Monterey Peninsula”.

We begin with Pavel’s Backerei. Don’t let its modest outside appearance fool you, this is one of the very, very, very best bakeries in the United States. The wonderful photographs of the scrumptious delights they offer on their Facebook page should convince you.

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And while we’re on the subject of items that most people miss, there’s this:

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See it crouched high atop that stone wall? Take a closer look:

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A poet, writer and sculptor named Clark Ashton Smith used to live in this house, and he’s the artist responsible for the sculpture.

You’ll notice this cat looks a little bit different than most cats, which makes sense when you realize that back in the early 1930’s Smith wrote supernatural (“weird”) tales that got published in the pulp magazines of the day. He was known for sculpting otherworldly creatures which explains the appearance of the cat. If you ever visit P.G., take a look. Be careful, though, because a friend of mine tried to climb up the wall to have his picture taken with the thing and he ended up slipping and crashing to the ground. I’m sure it was a coincidence.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little taste of America’s Last Hometown and if you ever visit SSCS for training or other business take some time to wander around P.G. Last but least, since Circle K is one of SSCS’s corporate customers, I thought I’d close with this shot of the Circle K Express store on the border of P.G. Enjoy!

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