California is home to some of the most beautiful scenic drives in America like the Pacific Coast Highway, but only one stretch of road rivals the famous PCH in terms of world-wide fame for its beauty: 17 Mile Drive through the Monterey Peninsula. A loop that hugs the coastline, the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course, and Del Monte Forest, 17-Mile Drive is everything you could want in a scenic drive, all packed into just under 20 miles of roadway.
For the wealthy big-shots that live in the gated community of Pebble Beach, 17-Mile Drive is just how they get to-and-from, but for us regular Joes willing to pay the $10 toll, it’s our gateway to excellent wildlife viewing and incredible vistas. Its short length means you can do the drive as you’re passing through, but you can also easily fill a day with all there is to see and do along the drive.
Must-sees along the way:
The Lone Cypress
Marooned on a lonely granite hillside, the Lone Cypress is one of the most photographed trees in America and a symbol for the Pebble Beach community. The tree, thought to be 250 years old, hasn't had an easy life, being marred by fire. Today, it’s held in place by cables as it has been for the past 65 years.
If you love seals, you’ll love Fanshell Overlook. From Pebble Beach Resorts: “The pure white sand of the beach below is irresistible to harbor seals, which each spring return to bear their young. Closed during the harbor seal pupping season from April 1 to June 1.”
It was here where the Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portela and his crew camped in 1769 while searching for Monterey Bay. Today, you can “camp” here as well… Spanish Bay is the perfect spot for a little picnic or walk along the shore. For those wanting to “camp” overnnight, The Inn at Spanish Bay Inn at Spanish Bay is a beautiful option right inside the gate for 17-Mile Drive.
Thinking this point was the entrance to Monterey Bay, more than one unlucky sailor crashed in the rocks of Point Joe over the years.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach
While we think “golf” when we hear Pebble Beach (some of us car lovers also think concours), The Lodge At Pebble Beach offers a little something for everyone. With 5 different restaurants/bars on site, there’s something for every taste, occasion, and budget. The Lodge also boasts several clothing, jewelry, and golf shops.
If you’re interested in spending more than a day or so around the Pebble Beach area, their “Pebble Beach Explorers” packages offer all sorts of lodging and activity options for families looking to enjoy the beauty of 17-Mile Drive and its surrounding scenery.
A few notes about 17-Mile Drive to help plan your trip:
- Motorcycles are not allowed
- A red dashed line marks the drive and keeps you on the correct path
- If visiting during sea lion birthing season, access to some of the shoreline may be limited
Whether you’re planning a long vacation or just want to pay $10 and cruise through Pebble Beach, 17-Mile Drive is at the heart of it all and won’t leave you disappointed.
Cover Photo: Flickr