For just a short time each year, Pacific Grove transforms and becomes even more beautiful than average. During mid-Spring, Mother Nature rolls out the purple carpet in Pacific Grove, California. Visitors can take in the vibrant pink and purple hues of wildflowers popping through the grasses and rocky coast along the shoreline.
The Magic Carpet in Pacific Grove
The Magic Carpet of Pacific Grove is a colorful sensation you must add to your travel list.
This purple spectacle of nature is known locally as the Magic Carpet of Pacific Grove. Each year, locals and tourists flock to Pacific Grove’s Ocean View Boulevard to catch a glimpse, and an Instagram-worthy pic, of the radiant beauty that is the magenta ice plant.
Formally known as drosanthemum floribundum, the magenta ice plant comes in a wide range of shades and hues, from pale lavender to bright magenta to rich purple.
Pacific Grove’s coastline was once covered in poison oak, posing danger to those who crossed it. However, in the late 1930s, explorer Hayes Perkins decided it was time to make a change. He cleared out the poison oak and planted the fuchsia-blooming ice plant he had discovered on a trip to South Africa. Over 14 years, he grew this beautiful bloom along a mile-long stretch that has become known as the Magic Carpet. To get started, the ice plants needed special attention. Hayes filled and carried 75 buckets of water twice a week to ensure the plants had what they needed to grow.
While beautiful, the plant is also beneficial. This variety of ice plant is a succulent, meaning it needs minimal water and is tolerant of salty conditions. In South Africa, the plant is used for erosion control, which was also beneficial to the Pacific Grove coastline.
Depending on rainfall and plant maintenance, the ice plant carpets the shoreline with dense growth, growing only about six inches high. Plenty of rain in February bodes well for a lush bloom of the ice plant. The City of Pacific Grove is working to improve the Magic Carpet’s growth with a new landscape plan, volunteer help, weeding, and additional funding.
When to See The Magic Carpet
Pops of purple lining the Pacific Coast.
While magical, this spectacle is also fleeting, lasting a little more than a month. From early April through May, visitors can catch the Magic carpet in bloom.
For the best viewing, here are some handy tips:
- The purple beauties are late sleepers; they open around mid-day and close again in the evening.
- Pick a sunny day, these plants like the warmth.
- If the weather is chilly, the plants might not open at all.
While temperamental to the weather, getting to see the Magic Carpet in full bloom is well worth planning your day around.
Where to See The Magic Carpet
Get your camera ready for an Instagram-worthy snap!
The Magic Carpet blooms along the coastline in Pacific Grove, located at the tip of the Monterey Peninsula. Visitors can take in the natural beauty of the flowers by foot or by car.
To see the purple flowers by car, start at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove and then drive along Ocean View Boulevard towards Pebble Beach. For those wanting to get up close and personal with the blooms, you can walk along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail and snap all the photos you want of the magenta flowers. Generally, the best patches are found between Lovers Point and Asilomar State Beach along Ocean View Boulevard.
Pacific Grove is located near some famous neighbors, including Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. What truly sets it apart is the glory of its coastline. The beauty holds all year long, but the ice plant’s fuschia blooms in April and May truly make it one-of-a-kind. Unlike its neighbors, Pacific Grove has also remained relatively undeveloped along the beachfront, leaving the coastline accessible and natural.
Where to Stay on Your Visit
Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds is the perfect location for Magic Carpet viewers.
Pacific Grove is all about natural beauty and communing with nature. The feast for your eyes doesn’t have to stop just because it’s time to go inside at night or to eat a meal. Book a room at Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds, and the sights will be endless.
Asilomar is located within walking distance of Asilomar Beach. The Arts and Crafts style hotel was designed by world-renowned Julia Morgan and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The hotel sits among the restored dune ecosystem upon 107 acres of beachfront property. When you’re not exploring the Magic Carpet along Ocean View Boulevard, you can wander the beachfront grounds, dip your toes in the ocean, and take in the peaceful sounds of birdsong and waves.
Other Things to do When you Visit Pacific Grove
Bird watching in Pacific Grove.
While many visitors come to Pacific Grove just for the Magic Carpet, there’s plenty of other activities to occupy your time while on vacation or to fill an afternoon off from a conference.
The unique coastal ecology of Pacific Grove makes it one of the top 5 birding destinations in North America. Whether you’re an amateur or advanced bird-spotter, you’ll be delighted by the variety and number of birds you’ll see while visiting. To brush up on your bird-sighting skills or to just have the help of an expert, sign up for a guided tour.
Hop aboard and set sail for an adventure upon the sea. Keep your eyes peeled for whales and other marine life. The knowledgeable guides at the Princess Monterey Whale Watching tour company will provide you with plenty of fun facts and information. Even while you’re not watching the whales, you’ll get to take in views of the Pacific Grove coastline.
Another option to see the Magic Carpet is to hop on a bike. The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail provides bikers with 18 miles of paved trails that meander along the Monterey coastline. Take in the incredible ocean views any time of year, and during the spring, you might also see the bright blooms of the ice plants.
During the spring, the coastline of Pacific Grove bursts with vibrant pink and purple blooms. This once-a-year event is an astounding show of one of the many wonders Mother Nature has to share.