A Perfect Coastal Escape for the Holidays

    By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List

    Celebrate at the refuge by the sea.

    Looking for a spot to cozy in for the holidays by the sea? Look no further than Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds, a 107-acre property whose lodges and cabins shine during the festive winter months.

    Go solo, go with your special someone, bring the whole family, meet a group of friends. No matter how you arrive, get ready to soak in the surf, the sand, and the holiday cheer.

    About Asilomar 

    Asilomar started out as a YWCA Leadership Camp in 1913, but forget any notions you may have of sparse bunkhouses and drafty dining halls. Designed by renowned Arts & Crafts architect Julia Morgan, the beautiful complex includes cottages and lodges, along with meeting halls, an outdoor heated swimming pool, a meditation space, and a BBQ area and fire pit.

    Trails criss-cross the property, leading over beautifully restored dunes to the Pacific Ocean. Asilomar is nestled in the quaint town of Pacific Grove, CA, which oozes charm during the holidays.

    Where to Stay

    Though Asilomar is known for its conference amenities, you can definitely stay as an independent traveler. There are three types of accommodations: historic rooms, standard rooms, and cottages.

    The historic rooms feature hardwood floors, one or two beds, and rustically elegant California-syle furnishings. Each historic building offers a communal living room with a fireplace, perfect for snuggling in after a day of adventure or for meeting new friends.

    The standard rooms are just as comfortable as the historic but are a bit more contemporary. Many were designed by John Carl Warnecke in the same iconic style as Julia Morgan. Some rooms offer a balcony or terrace to enjoy those temperate coastal nights.

    Lastly, the cottages. There are only four of them, but they are worth fighting over. They vary in size and number of bedrooms, but all are spacious, private, and have beautiful views from their wood-framed windows.

    Soak in the Holiday Vibes

    Asilomar is a festive, beachy spot to spend your holidays. You won't find a speck of snow (the average high in December is 60 degrees!), but you will find cheerful decorations and fires for roasting marshmallows. Hanging out in a rocking chair by the fire in the Hearst Social Hall is also pretty sweet - especially with an old fashioned and holiday-themed eats from Phoebe's Cafe.

    From Asilomar, it's a short hop to Monterey, where the Christmas on the Wharf celebrations include visits with Santa, complimentary hot beverages and cookies, sea-life themed Christmas decorations and ice skating by the bay. 

    Explore the Coast

    Photo by Karissa Frye // Adventure: Explore Asilomar's Ancient Sand Dunes

    The holidays wouldn't feel complete without a few adventures, right? Luckily, the area around Asilomar has them in spades.

    Reach Asilomar State Beach on foot from your lodgings at Asilomar. A 2.7-mile out-and-back oceanside trail follows the coast past ancient sand dunes, rocky outcroppings, and crashing waves. Keep a keen eye out for sea lions riding the tides with their fins up in the air to regulate their body temperature.

    Ride your bike through Asilomar and Pacific Grove on paved bike paths or along the beach! Don't stress about traveling with your bike, the hotel's Park Store has them for rent. And if you feel like getting wet, the beach offers spots for sea kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. Though the air will be warm, the ocean will be chilly...wetsuits recommended.

    Other nearby adventures include visiting the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary and hopping on Highway 1 for a day trip through Big Sur.

    When the day winds down and you're looking to relax around the hotel, shoot a couple games of pool on one of the two antique pool tables in the hotel at the Phoebe A. Hearst Social Hall.

    Experience the warmth and welcome of Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds this holiday, and you may be tempted to make a tradition for years to come.

    All photos, except where otherwise noted, courtesy of Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

    Do you love the outdoors?

    Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.