Monarch butterflies are just lovely to see in person. They’re bright and colorful, with an easily recognizable orange, black and white pattern across their wings.
Every year, from October through early March, these butterflies migrate to Central and Southern California, mostly coming in from areas west of the Rocky Mountains, and south from Oregon and Idaho. They fly to places in San Diego, Orange County, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Santa Cruz, forming huge clusters in groves along the coast. They’ll only be at the groves for a few months, so there’s no better time than now to go check them out. Especially at these locations!
Goleta’s Butterfly Grove is set among beautiful coastal forest on an ocean bluff. Walk through on any winter day and you may be able to spot clusters of these bright butterflies hanging around the Eucalyptus trees.
If you continue all the way through it also leads down to Ellwood Beach pictured above. There you can follow several trails, or just lay back and marvel over the ocean views.
Goleta Grove Address: 7559 Palos Verdes Dr, Goleta, CA 93117
The North Beach Grove at Pismo State Beach is an excellent place to see these vibrant butterflies by the thousands. It’s easy to access off Highway 1, near the North Beach Campground. Brightly colored signs will point you in the right direction of the exit and a free public parking area.
After seeing the beautiful monarchs, you can take a relaxing walk north on Pismo North Beach towards the Pismo Beach Pier, or south on a boardwalk through dunes, beside Pismo Beach’s 9-hole golf course.
Pismo Beach Grove Address: 400 S Dolliver St, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
To see them, you can take a path known as the Monarch Butterfly Trail that winds through the grove of trees. Also make sure to swing by the Visitor Center here, as they have a lot of great information on these butterflies and their annual migration.
Santa Cruz Grove Address: 2531 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
via Wikipedia Agunther
Though small, this grove of trees serves as home to thousands of migrating butterflies in the winter months. It’s set just behind the appropriately-named Butterfly Grove Inn, only a few minutes from Asilomar State Beach.
The lighthouse next to Pacific Grove’s butterfly grove
Vibrant monarch butterflies cluster here on pine, cypress and eucalyptus trees. Pacific Grove sees so many monarchs every year they’ve even gained the nickname “Butterfly Town USA”.
Pacific Grove Butterfly Grove Address: 250 Ridge Rd, Pacific Grove, CA 93950