When I first learned about a “Magic Carpet” of purple ice plant flowers that bloom every Spring along the coast of the Monterey Peninsula, I had to go see it for myself of course! I love the California coast and I love flowers, so what can be better than the combination of both? What I saw there is every bit as beautiful and magical as I envisioned it to be – a spectacular pop of color along a mile-long idyllic coastal trail in Pacific Grove. It was love at first sight! If you love flower fields, the California coast or just beautiful scenery, I highly recommend a visit to see this amazing sight in the Spring! It’s a must-see Northern California road-trip stop for sure. In this post, I’ll share the best place and the best time to see these unique flowers.
All photos taken by me and my husband. I’ve listed my photo gear below!
5/19/2022 field report – The purple flowers are spectacular this year! See some recent photos below. Also, there’s currently road work at the east end of Ocean View Blvd near Lover’s Point Park, so street parking and flower viewing starts a bit further west this year.
Where to See the Magic Carpet
The “magic carpet” of purple ice plants are commonly found along the coastline of the Monterey Peninsula, clinging to the rocky cliffs and blanketing the areas next to it. One of the best places to see them is along the Pacific Grove coastline. It’s part of the 18-mile Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.
The coastal city of Pacific Grove is located in Monterey County, around 2 hours south of San Francisco. It’s known for its monarch butterfly sanctuary and its many historic homes, some of which date back to the 19th century. The best part though, is its long stretch of rocky coastline that come alive each Spring with stunning purple ice plant flowers next to it in the Spring!
Start at Lover’s Point Park and walk northwest along the mile-long coastal trail next to Ocean View Boulevard for spectacular scenery enhanced by these colorful flowers. You can go all the way to the Asilomar State Beach if you’d like. There are benches and scenic outlooks all along the trail where you can sit and enjoy a beautiful Spring day. Ken and I love to enjoy our lunches on these benches. Street parking is available along Ocean View Boulevard, and there’s a couple of parking areas along the trail as well. You may also find a small grove of calla lily flowers at the start of the trail like we did!
If you like calla lilies, you may be interested in visiting the semi-hidden Calla Lily Valley in Big Sur! This field of wild calla lilies grow next to Garrapata Beach, around 20-30 minutes south of this area of Pacific Grove. I share all the details in my post on the Calla Lily Valley!
When to See the Magic Carpet of Ice Plant Flowers in Pacific Grove
The best time to see the purple ice plant flowers is in the Spring when they’re in full bloom. The flowers generally start blooming in early April and can keep blooming through late May, and sometimes into June. These pictures were taken at the end of April when the blooms were quite spectacular. Also in bloom around the same time are calla lilies, which you may find along the coastal trail as well!
Visitor tip: The flowers usually open about midday and close in the evenings. They look the most vibrant in full sun! Also, note that the flowers remain closed when it’s cold.
Spring is also the perfect time to visit Big Sur, located just south of the Monterey Peninsula. The coastal wildflowers there are so beautiful as well! See my post on the Most Beautiful Spots in Big Sur for pictures and for the perfect Big Sur itinerary.
The Origins of the Ice Plant Flowers in Pacific Grove
The purple ice plants were planted by the city of Pacific Grove in the early 1900s along a railroad that used to pass through it. The city continues to maintain the plants today and encourages visitors to remain on the trail and not step on or damage the plants, which have become a major tourist attraction for the city. These ice plants originated in South Africa and are considered less aggressive than other species of ice plants.
The Monterey Peninsula is the Perfect Bay Area Day Trip!
Located about two hours south of San Francisco, a visit to the Monterey Peninsula is the perfect weekend get-away or even a day trip. You’ll fall in love with the California coast all over again! The fantastic Monterey Bay Aquarium is also very close by and is definitely worth a visit.
By the way, if you love flowers as much as I do, you might be interested in my post on the Most Beautiful Flower Books (it’s one of my most popular posts!).
Monterey Area Hotel and Restaurant Recommendations
Whenever Ken and I take a weekend trip to the Monterey Bay, we stay at the beautiful Intercontinental The Clement Monterey (TripAdvisor reviews here). I just love their sophisticated coastal decor! The hotel is just a few minutes away from Lover’s Point Park, and is across the street from the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Our favorite local restaurant is Passionfish, where we’ve always had delicious dinners with wonderful service (reservations are recommended!). And if you enjoy delicious French pastries like I do, Parker-Lusseau Pastries, located 10 minutes away, should definitely be on your agenda! It’s my go-to place for a sandwich and pastries to enjoy while flower viewing.
California Spring Travel
If you’re looking for more California Spring travel ideas, check out my posts on the Most Beautiful Spots in Big Sur, the Purple Ice Plants of the Monterey Peninsula, the spectacular Flower Fields of Carlsbad Ranch, the Poppy Fields of Mt Diablo State Park, and the beautiful Spring Peach Blossoms in the East Bay!
All of my California travel posts are here!
My Current Camera & Video Gear
My favorite lens ever. This 105mm lens is amazing for portrait & flower photography. An 85mm lens would be great also.
I love this lightweight & durable Kanken backpack (in the big size) for both day trips & for travel!
I’ve been taking more videos lately with my iPhone & this lightweight gimbal makes the videos so much smoother!
We’ve used a Nikon D750 DSLR for several years now (newer model D780 shown above), but we may upgrade to a mirrorless Sony camera soon!
Hi, I’m Pansy!
Hello, thanks for stopping by! I’m Pansy, California-based travel + lifestyle blogger, photographer and lover of ALL the pretty flowers! If you browse through my blog, you may notice that most of my travels, DIY and photography center around flowers and nature! 🌸🌼🌿