Information Park office at 646-6440; Asilomar Conference Grounds at 372-8016. Online at www.parks.ca.gov and www.visitasilomar.com
Asilomar is both a natural and architectural wonder.
On one side of Sunset Drive in Pacific Grove is the mile-long Asilomar State Beach, a picturesque stretch of sand and rocky coves.
On the other side is the Asilomar Conference Grounds, a woodsy wonderland sprinkled with buildings by famed architect Julia Morgan.
Asilomar's name, Spanish for "a refuge by the sea," is a good fit. Back in 1913, the conference grounds started as a camp and conference site for the YWCA. The location was suggested by Phoebe Apperson Hearst, who persuaded the Pacific Improvement Co. to donate 30 acres for the site. Hearst brought in architect Morgan, who designed a complex that is a marked contrast to her most famous project, Hearst Castle.
Asilomar was designed in the Arts and Crafts style, emphasizing simplicity and quality craftsmanship, using natural materials. Its buildings, dominated by shingles and stone and rich wood, make up the largest collection of California Arts and Crafts-style structures in one place; in 1987 the site was named a National Historic Landmark.
In 1956, the conference grounds and the adjacent beach became part of the California State Parks system. Thousands of people visit annually, staying in its unique guesthouses, exploring its rich natural habitat, strolling on its sandy shore.