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.

Pacific Grove museum of natural history houses the annual Monterey wildflower show

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.

Pacific Grove Museum Garden

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.

Pacific Grove Museum bear

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).

Pacific Grove Museum Spirit Nest

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.

Pacific Grove Museum fossil pit

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.

HITT Tip: Don’t stop with a simple visit. You can actually hold special events and birthdays in various rooms or an intimate wedding in that awesome garden.

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


Liberty Cemetery


Michigan Bluff


Spring Wildflowers - Foresthill Divide Loop Trail


Mozzeria Pizzeria


Lynch Canyon Open Space Preserve


Apple Hill


Wofford Acres Vineyards


Apple Ridge Farms


Larsen Apple Barn


Rainbow Orchards


Smokey Ridge Farmstand and Charcuterie


Allez French restaurant


UC Davis Arboretum


Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History


Heads up! This information on the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.