OK, I’ll admit this straight out: When HI Travel Tales ventures to another city, museums aren’t usually the top of our list. There is normally so much to see, experience and live on the streets and outdoors. But sometimes a museum just stands out. Take the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History in Monterey County for one.
The museum is a little place with a huge heart that invites visitors – adults and kids alike – to not just look but to touch, hear, play and feel. Dang amazing really for a museum that opened in 1883 and still, in part, exists in one of its original historic buildings on a side street in Pacific Grove.
Living showcase at the Natural History Museum
This is a showcase of nature and history, birds and wildlife, flowers and geology of the Central Coast of California. Wondered about the Monarch Butterflies and their annual migration to Pacific Grove? Don’t just look at pretty pictures, come to the Pacific Grove Museum to learn about Monarch Butterflies see what it’s all about.
Bears? Yup, a big stuffed one in the main exhibit room that looks ready to pounce. Orca whales? Push buttons to hear a number of different songs and what they mean.
Flowers? Aside from the Annual Wildflower Show in mid-April (2015 was the 54th year!) that HI Travel Tales visited and wrote about, there is an intimate native plants and flowers garden on the grounds. But it’s not your everyday run-of-the-mill garden that only attracts your grandmother. It has arbors and benches and even a most amazing so-called “Spirit Nest” — a hanging circular entwinement of branches that begs to be sat in (definitely encouraged).
Hands-on fun for kids and adults at the Pacific Grove Museum
This museum is hands-on to the nth degree. Kids can go on a scavenger hunt where they have to track down answers and find things in the museum … like a whale’s eyeball! Once completed, they take the form to the Pacific Grove Museum gift shop (which in itself has a really cool collection of goodies) and they get to pick out a small piece of
Pyrite (a.k.a. fool’s good) to take home. All included in the admission price. In the native plant garden, they (you too!) can dig around in a “fossil pit” and find a real fossil to take home.
Did we say yet this museum is cool? According to the Pacific Grove Museum’s website, its mission is to inspire discovery, wonder, and stewardship of our natural world.
Click here to see hours, get directions and find a link to admission prices.
Map of California
In the map below, pins mark the exact location of all the sites mentioned in our articles on California. Zoom in or out on the map using the controls. Switch easily from map to satellite view. Click on each pin to pull up a tooltip with the name and any additional information.
Villagio Inn and Spa
Feather River Fish Hatchery
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve
Table Mountain Preserve
Spring Wildflowers - Foresthill Divide Loop Trail
Lynch Canyon Open Space Preserve
Wofford Acres Vineyards
Apple Ridge Farms
Larsen Apple Barn
Smokey Ridge Farmstand and Charcuterie
Allez French restaurant
UC Davis Arboretum
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
Alhambra Theater Historic Site - Sacramento
Today, the former movie showplace is not much of a show. And not many folks seem to even be aware of the meaning of these palm trees, and non-functioning fountain as they dash in and out of the store for groceries. A plaque that was said to be placed there was nowhere to be found when I visited. Read our story here.
Palo Corona Regional Park - Carmel
South Yuba River State Park - Bridgeport
Underground Gardens - Fresno
The Underground Gardens is what it sounds like: A weaving labyrinth of caverns, rooms and passages all dug underground and filled with fruit trees, vines and plants in spaces that open to the sky. This oddity was built – or shall we say, dug – by Italian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere for about 38 years starting in 1906.