Headed to Monterey and looking for the stunning Pacific Grove magic carpet? Get excited – you’re about to see some of the prettiest pink flowers in California!
Imagine a spectacular pop of pink color sprawling alongside the seaside dunes and bluffs. A mile-long coastal trail with benches to stare off at that dreamy Pacific Ocean. Rocks jutting outta the idyllic landscape and birds flying across the sky. I swear, it looks just like a postcard.
And it’s exactly as it sounds – Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove (where the magical Pacific Grove Magic Carpet is found) is one of our favorite day trips from San Francisco. A place we absolutely love taking visitors to!
Seeing the Magic Carpet in Pacific Grove has been on my Northern California bucket list for years (ever since moving to San Francisco, actually!), so I was thrilled when we finally made it there! Why’d it take me so long?! The magic carpet only blooms for about a month each year!
Get ready to witness the coast of Pacific Grove undergo a magical transformation every spring. If you’re a fan of the rugged coast and love colorful flowers (hi, that’s me!), you need to add the Pacific Grove magic carpet to your California bucket list ASAP! I kinda wanna go back next weekend even though we just got back last night, haha.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your own incredible trip to the pink magic carpet in Pacific Grove!
Psst: Interested in checking out other flowers in California? I’ve been enjoying these blooms to the max the last few years; check out these posts:
- Wild Mustard Blooms in Half Moon Bay (February to March)
- Calla Lily Valley in Big Sur (February to March)
- Carlsbad Flower Fields in San Diego (March to May)
- Purple Lavender Fields in Dixon (May to July)
- U-Pick Sunflowers in Half Moon Bay (September)
Important Info about the Monterey Magic Carpet
What is the Pacific Grove Magic Carpet
See all those vibrant pinkish-purple flowers?! That’s the magic carpet, and it’s absolutely stunning! The Pacific Grove magic carpet is basically like a blanket of flowers covering the landscape along the Monterey coastline. A pinkish-purple “carpet” each and every spring if you will!
The plants that make up this famous magic carpet are a non-native succulent, called “drosanthemum floribundum” – try saying that 3x fast!, and are part of the ice plant family.
Typically, ice plants are threatening to the local ecosystem (as they take over native plants). However, these magic carpet ice plants are considered to be a smaller and less invasive style than what we commonly see throughout much of California (head to Half Moon Bay – you’ll see what I mean).
History and Origins of the Ice Plant in Pacific Grove
The history of the Magic Carpet in Pacific Grove is a fascinating one that began in the early 1900s. Poison oak actually covered the whole area until a local resident named Hayes Perkins settled in Pacific Grove in the late 1930s and changed all that. He decided to get rid of all the poison oak and plant hundreds of fuchsia-colored plants instead that he found in South Africa on one of his voyages. Talk about a garden near the sea!
(If you’re interested – read up on him; he sounds like such an adventurous guy.)
It took him a whopping 14 years to plant the mile-long stretch of flowers we see today, which he watered HIMSELF by filling 75 buckets twice a day. Can you imagine that?! Hence why the park, Perkins Park (where most of the pink flowers are seen), is named after him.
The city of Pacific Grove and its locals are proud of its coastline beauty (as they should be!), and keep them in pristine, tip-top shape – we even saw a random local pulling weeds!
When to See the Pacific Grove Magic Carpet
The short answer: SPRING time baby!
The longer answer: The magic carpet flowers of Pacific Grove typically start blooming in early-mid April, and last until late-May, sometimes even early June. While the exact blooming dates change every year (this is nature and all!), expect this blanket of flowers to bloom sometime in mid-late spring, and last until very early summer.
For the most up to date info on blooming status, I recommend searching some hashtags on IG, or checking out the @pgchamber IG account.
Try your best to visit on a sunny day – the flowers look the most vibrant in full sun! Also, know that the flowers stay closed when it’s chilly out, so come on a day it’s at least relatively warm! Easier said than done on the coast, I know!
For reference, we visited Pacific Grove to see the magic carpet in early-May, and plenty of flowers weren’t even in bloom yet! While we saw tons of pretty pink-purple flowers on the rocks and bluffs, there were still plenty of green patches on the trails. We probably should have waited a week or two, oh well! Told you it was hard to time!
On the flip side, I’ve seen photos taken in late April and all the ice plants are in full bloom – it really changes every year, and you just gotta get lucky.
Weather conditions: The climate in Pacific Grove is mild and temperate, with cooler temperatures than you probably realize with occasional fog during the spring and summer months. The weather in this area can change pretty fast, so I always recommend wearing layers and keeping a jacket on you just in case you need it.
I carried a light sweatshirt with me and felt like I put it on every 5 minutes, just to take it off just as fast.
Where to See the Pacific Grove Magic Carpet
I’m sure you’ve guessed that the Pacific Grove magic carpet is found in Pacific Grove – makes sense after all! But where’s Pacific Grove anyways?!
This historic seaside town is located on the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey County, California (yes, near the famous aquarium!). It’s situated on the western edge of the Monterey Bay, about 120 miles south of San Francisco and 70 miles south of San Jose.
Pacific Grove is known for its historic Victorian homes (some dating back to the 19th century!), rugged coastline and beautiful beaches, and the monarch butterfly sanctuary (winter see’s thousands of these gorgeous butterflies!). And of course the magic carpet of flowers in spring!
More specifically, to see the beauty of the magic carpet, you’ll wanna head to the Pacific Grove coastline – to Lovers Point Park, Perkins Park, and Esplanade Park. These are all part of the 18-mile Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail (don’t worry, you don’t need to walk the whole thing). Here you’ll find the purple ice plants clinging to the rugged coastline and blanketing the trails and lawns nearby.
How to Get There
Thankfully, the magic carpet of Pacific Grove isn’t terribly far from plenty of places in the Bay Area. And it’s SUPER easy to find (unlike the semi-hidden entrance to Calla Lily Valley nearby in Big Sur).
Here’s how far it is from popular locations in California (in case you wanna add it on to your California coast road trip or trip to CA in general):
- Monterey: 10 minutes (~3 miles)
- Carmel-by-the-Sea: 15 minutes (~7 miles)
- Big Sur: 45 minutes (~30 miles)
- Santa Cruz: 1 hour (~45 miles)
- San Francisco: 2 hours (~120 miles)
- Sacramento: 3 hours (~200 miles)
- Los Angeles: 5 ½ hours (~330 miles)
- Orange County: 6 hours (~350 miles)
- San Diego: 7 ½ hours (~450 miles)
I’d bank on at least a bit of traffic no matter where you’re coming from. This is California afterall, wink wink. It makes the perfect road trip stop when driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in Spring!
Many people visit the Pacific Grove magic carpet when they’re in the Monterey/Big Sur area — that’s what we did! If you’re coming from further afield in California, you’ll probably wanna stay the night. Plus, there’s tons to do in the area you can easily fill up an entire week exploring Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur.
Visiting the Pacific Grove Magic Carpet
How to Plan Your Day
- Start at Lovers Point Park: We typically park in the neighborhood behind Lovers Point Park, and start our coastal walk from here. Although you won’t find many purple ice plants here, the area is just too gorgeous to miss! There’s a sandy beach, large grassy area perfect for picnics, clean public restrooms, and even kayaks and paddleboards for rent!. Oh so picturesque; we love it so much!
- Walk over to Perkins Park: This is the section of shoreline that’s been named after Hayes Perkins, the man who planted the first pink ice plant in Pacific Grove. And it’s exactly where you’ll start seeing the famous Pacific Grove magic carpet ice plants.
- Explore Esplanade Park: Keep on walking along the coast and Perkins Park will turn into Esplanade Park. There’s benches and scenic lookouts all along the trail, so enjoy! No need to rush – take in the views of Monterey Bay, the pink magic carpet, and stay a while! You’ll also see a bunch of Monterey cypress trees, which just add to the overall beauty of the landscape.
The entire coastal walk is super well maintained, so please oh please do your part to keep it this way! Some important things to remember:
- Importance of the area: The residents and visitors cherish this area for its unique charm and natural beauty. Please be extra respectful of the surroundings by staying on the designated paths and being mindful of your footsteps.
- Keep the area clean: LEAVE NO TRACE. Always pick up all of your trash and dispose of it in designated trash bins. Let’s preserve the natural beauty of this area for all to admire!
- Distance: The entire coastal trail is about 18 miles long – you definitely don’t need (or should!) walk the full path. If you’re looking to see the Pacific Grove magic carpet, stick to Lovers Point Park and Perkins Park.
Other important FAQs
- Are these ice plants wildflowers? Technically not since they were originally planted all those decades ago! And plus, they’re not actually native to the area.
- What to bring and wear: Bring a reusable water bottle, camera (100%), and picnic food to enjoy at Lovers Point Park , and wear a light sweater/jacket, sunhat, comfy shoes (we walked over 2 miles round trip), and remember to slather on that sunscreen.
- What’s the cost? Absolutely FREE!
- Are they invasive? Most ice plants spread like wildfire – taking over the landscape and putting native plants at risk (like those in Half Moon Bay). But the magic carpet flowers are a bit different – they don’t have as much of an impact for some reason.
Other Things to Do in the Area
Explore the surrounding areas while you’re here – the entire coastline is just oh so gorgeous! A few of my favorite things to do in Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur:
- Stop at the viewpoints along the 17 Mile Drive: This has got to be our favorite coastal drive in Northern California! There’s spectacular scenic visitas (that’s obvious!), ancient cypress trees, million dollar mansions, dramatic coastal cliffs, sunbathing seals and sea lions, and of course world-class iconic golf courses. Yup – including the ritzy Pebble Beach Golf Links!
- Explore Calla Lily Valley in Garrapata State Park: A hidden valley of Calla Lilies deep in the bluffs along the coast from mid-February to mid-March? Don’t mind if I do! Note that you won’t be able to visit the Pacific Grove Magic Carpet and Calla Lily Valley at the same time since they bloom in different months – just means multiple trips are in order. Way more info on the beautiful lilies here!
- Gasp at McWay Falls in Big Sur: Out of all the waterfalls I’ve seen in California (and beyond), this has got to be one of my all-time favorites. Why? It literally falls straight into the Pacific Ocean! And the views, OMG the views!
- Visit the towns of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel-By-The-Sea: Three of my favorite seaside towns in California, with tons to do in each one! Monterey’s got the aquarium, Cannery Row, and delicious seafood restaurants, Pacific Grove’s got gorgeous Victorian houses and Pavel’s Backerei, while Carmel has the cutest brunch spots (we love La Bicyclette) and charming fairytale cottages.
Hope this helps you plan a visit to see the stunning Pacific Grove magic carpet superbloom! Are you headed to the Monterey Bay peninsula anytime soon?!
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