17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, California, is one of the most scenic drives in the world. A 2-lane road winds its way along the rocky Pacific Coast through cypress tress, offers stunning views of the Pacific, rocky beaches, marine animals and birds, exclusive mansions, and more. It is most definitely one of the best things to do on a trip to Monterey Peninsula.
We have had the opportunity to drive the "17-Mile Drive" a few times and it always gets better each time. Not all the spots on this drive are attractive to all visitors. Some might appreciate the pristine golf courses, while others stick to the magical coastline and adore fantastic views and beaches, which is what we did.
You can begin the drive by entering the neighborhood through one of five manned gates, where a fee is collected and a route map is provided. This map is really helpful in spotting the sights and learning a little bit about them before making stops. Once inside the gates, the road is marked with red dashed lines to indicate the route you need to follow.
We entered through "Carmel Gate" on southside of the drive, after a stroll around downtown Carmel. If you are driving from the south as well, do make sure to stop at the charming downtown and check out those colorful buildings, boutique stores, courtyards and secret passageways.
These are some of the points that piqued our interest on this drive.
Ghost trees sculpted by the wind and gorgeous ocean views.
The Ghost Tree:
The actual ghost tree bleached by wind, on the inland side of the road.
The Lone Cypress:
A Cypress tree that has withstood storms and winds for more than 250 years.
The Crocker Grove:
Named for Charles Crocker, who established 17-Mile Drive, a 13-acre preserve for native cypress, some nearly 300 years old.
Cypress Point Lookout:
View of majestic cypress trees and the dramatic coastline.
A pure white sand beach and harbor seal pupping area in spring.
Seal Rock Picnic Area:
Picnic area surrounded by marine and bird life.
Home to shorebirds, harbor seals and sea lions.
Chinese fishermen built their homes against the rock here.
A Chinese man lived in a driftwood home near this point in the early 1900s.
The Restless Sea:
Submerged rocks break the waves early and make the sea look restless on most days.
Back in the 18th century, Spanish explorers who came searching for Monterey Bay camped here.
Where to stay: We stayed in The Stevenson Monterey. Other options in Monterey. Options in Pebble Beach. Options in Carmel.
Getting there: Best entrances are through the Pacific Grove gate (north) or the Carmel gate (south). On Hwy-1 look for signs as you get closer to either of these places. GPS or a map is very helpful.
Hours and cost: Open 24/7. Entrance fee $10.25 per vehicle (check your receipt for fee refund instructions). Do not forget to pick up a route map.
Time to spend: 3-4 hrs approximately. But depends on the crowd, whether you want to picnic, golf etc.
What to bring: A sweater for chilly days, binoculars and camera.