Asilomar, or rather, the Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds, was designed to be a YWCA retreat by Julia Morgan, the Arts & Crafts architect of Hearst Castle. Asilomar is actually a made-up word roughly meaning “refuge by the sea.” Located in Pacific Grove on the edge of the Monterey Peninsula, the over 100 acres of beachfront land is certainly that. It is hard not to feel the quiet pull of nature while there—within moments of checking in, as I entered my room, deer ambled by my window. The ocean is just steps away and the grounds of the center connect to the beach over a short boardwalk over wild dunes.
Leaping into the yard of Scripps lodge
Asilomar is now a conference center, but, when there is space available, leisure travelers can book rooms separately. The historic buildings designed by Morgan are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and that’s where I chose to stay. Rooms of various types and sizes can be found in these lodges, all with private baths, as well as a common living room and fireplace in the center of the building (great for reading). Prices are very reasonable for the area. Guests are provided breakfast in the main dining hall and can eat other meals there, but, in general, the food is nothing to write home about. Since I had been warned not to eat there, I chose to eat other meals in downtown Pacific Grove and nearby Monterey.
View of the grounds and ocean from Scripps
The rustic lodges of Asilomar are probably not to everybody’s taste, especially given that there are no telephones or televisions, but I thought they were heaven. The beds were comfortable, the rooms were clean, and the setting can’t be beat.