Come to Pacific Grove, a quaint village at the tip of the Monterey Peninsula, to enjoy the beautifully preserved Victorian homes and the friendly, beachy vibe. Every fall, thousands of monarch butterflies flutter to the Monarch Grove Sanctuary, while the Monterey Bay Aquarium introduces visitors to the natural wonders of the local ocean. From your Pacific Grove vacation rental, you have easy access to the charm of Carmel, the kitesurfing of Seaside, and some of the best golf courses in the world.

1. Pacific Grove

pink flowers

Tuck yourself into a cozy little cottage in Pacific Grove that puts you within a quick stroll of the Coastal Recreational Trail, relax inside a Spanish-style vacation rental up on a hill, or indulge yourself with a vacation rental on the Asilomar Dunes with spectacular views in all directions and the sound of the waves soothing you to sleep at night. In upper Pacific Grove, deer might wander through your yard, and antique stores and fine dining are always just a few blocks away in this tiny town.

2. Monterey

boats and houses at the pier

Many of the vacation rentals near Pacific Grove are near Monterey’s famous Cannery Row. Opt for a condo with an ocean view that puts you within walking distance of Cannery Row’s restaurants and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or splurges on a place that lets you eat breakfast on your beachfront deck each morning.

3. Pebble Beach

fantastic tree on a rock

To access Pebble Beach, you must drive through the gates of the 17-Mile Drive, one of the most beautiful private (or public!) roads anywhere. This wandering road takes you past rocky beaches, gracious estates and — the pride of Pebble Beach — some of the top golf courses anywhere. Bring your whole group to an oceanfront estate with multiple guest houses for a family reunion, or choose a condo filled with all the amenities and a sweeping ocean view.

4. Carmel-by-the-Sea

aerial view of a city near the sea

Get good directions when you head to your charming vacation rental in the tiny hamlet of Carmel, because this town gives its houses names rather than street addresses. It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic vacation spot. Give yourself enough time to enjoy the art galleries lining the chic downtown, and enjoy a homemade breakfast at the Tuck Box, a neighborhood tradition.

5. Carmel Valley

fog on the hills
Source: Flickr / Ben Thompson

Just inland from the village of Carmel-by-the-Sea is Carmel Valley, a lush and secluded spot filled with beautiful meadows and, yes, more golf courses. Rent a cottage surrounded by oak trees, and enjoy relaxing in your vacation rental’s hot tub and pool. Charming homes that attach to Garland Ranch Regional Park are a great jumping-off place for hiking through the local forest or visiting Carmel Valley wineries.

6. Sand City

footwear on the beach sand

The spectacular sand dunes of Sand City call you roll down giant piles of sand, or get out your ATV for some real fun. Brisk winds make this area just northeast of Pacific Grove ideal for kitesurfing. You can rent a modern loft that gives you sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean with easy access to Monterey and the beach.

7. Carmel Bay

magnificent bay landscape

Just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Bay stretches to Carmel Highlands and the Point Lobos State Marine Reserve. You can bring along your scuba gear or your snorkel to explore the rich marine life that’s protected here, and then relax in a spectacular beach house that puts the ocean sunset in your front yard. If you want to keep things cozy, rent a small studio guest house with skylights and picture windows that flood your refuge with beauty.

8. Seaside

white sand beach

When you want easy access to the rocky beaches of Pacific Grove or the golf courses of Pebble Beach without paying oceanfront rates, check out the convenient town of Seaside. Cozy guesthouses and studios put you near the beach or enjoy outdoor life with BBQs and fire pits as well as plenty of room for the whole family when you rent a large home set back from the ocean.

9. Marina

ocean waves

Give your family a little extra space when you head just up the coast to Marina. Highway 1 stretches along the coastline to bring you right into the heart of Monterey and Pacific Grove, with the wild dunes of Sand City beckoning to you as you pass. Rent a spacious home with all the amenities you could want and room for all the kids to spread out.

10. Point Sur

lighthouse view deck

The easy route to the breathtaking beauty of Big Sur leads from Pacific Grove south along Highway 1. Along the way, vacation rentals at Point Sur let you hang over the Pacific Ocean with views in all directions. Relax in the hot tub on your deck overlooking the Ventana Wilderness as you sip a glass of wine and plan your next day of golfing, relaxing on the beach, or exploring the boutiques of Carmel or Pacific Grove.

11. Castroville

growing vegetables

Artichokes are definitely on the menu when you stay in Castroville, the Artichoke Capital of the World. You and your family can rent a secluded vacation home in a private community with a little boardwalk that winds its way down to the beach. With the ocean lulling you to sleep at night and surf and sand awaiting you in the morning, a vacation rental here up the coast from Pacific Grove combines privacy and fun.

12. Moss Landing

swimming sea otter

When you rent a cozy waterfront cottage in Moss Landing, you can often look out your window to see sea otters frolicking in the ocean. From this home base, you have easy access to both Pacific Grove and Monterey to the south as well as Santa Cruz to the north. Stroll along the waterfront to visit this small town’s art galleries, or rent a boat at the small harbor to get out on the ocean.