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17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips

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Nestled along the ruggedly beautiful California coast, 17-Mile Drive in Monterey offers you an opportunity to experience one of the area's most enchanting attractions. This scenic road meanders through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, providing you with stunning vistas of wind-sculpted cypresses, dramatic cliffs, and the untamed Pacific Ocean. As you journey along this famed route, you're invited to soak in the natural splendor that has captured the hearts of travelers for over a century.

17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips
17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, CA, USA – Photo by Amy Vosters on Unsplash

Starting near the historic city of Monterey, you'll discover why 17-Mile Drive is treasured not just for its picturesque landscapes, but also for its rich heritage. Each turn and lookout point presents you with a chance to admire the opulent mansions and legendary golf courses that dot the coastline leading to the charming village of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Here, artisans and gourmet eateries await to add a touch of culture and flavor to your coastal adventure.

During your drive, you'll marvel at iconic landmarks like the Lone Cypress—a solitary tree defying the elements on a rocky outpost—and the ghostly beauty of Pescadero Point. These sights, among many others, make 17-Mile Drive a quintessential California experience, and whether you’re looking for a leisurely drive, a picturesque picnic spot, or inspiration from nature’s grandeur, this journey has something that will stir your soul.

17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips

Planning Your Visit

Exploring the stunning 17-Mile Drive in Monterey is an experience you don't want to rush. Ensure you've got all the important information about when to go, what you'll pay, and the sights you'll see.

Best Times to Visit

Spring and fall are ideal for visiting the 17-Mile Drive due to the pleasant weather and smaller crowds. The blooming flowers in spring add to the beauty, while the fall colors provide a stunning backdrop for your drive.

Entrance Gates and Fees

There are multiple gates to enter the 17-Mile Drive, but the primary ones are located at Highway 1Country ClubS.F.B. Morse, and Pacific Grove. The entrance fee is $11.25 per vehicle, which gets you a map and guide to help navigate the famous landmarks and scenic stops.

Guide to Stops Along the Drive

Your map and guide will detail the numerous points of interest along the drive. Notable stops include the Lone CypressSpanish Bay, and Pebble Beach. Each stop offers unique photo opportunities and breathtaking views, making it essential to keep your camera ready at all times.

Attractions and Landmarks

The 17-Mile Drive in Monterey is studded with remarkable sights—each one rich in history and natural beauty. As you journey through this scenic stretch, there are several must-see attractions and landmarks that are icons of the Monterey Peninsula.

Lone Cypress

Perched on a granite hillside, the Lone Cypress is an enduring symbol of Pebble Beach. This solitary tree has braved the coastal elements for more than 250 years and is one of the most photographed trees in North America.

Bird Rock

At Bird Rock, you're treated to a chorus of wildlife sounds. This rocky outpost is home to countless seabirds and raucous sea lions. With binoculars in hand, you can spot these creatures going about their daily routines—truly a nature lover’s delight.

Pebble Beach Golf Links

For golf enthusiasts, Pebble Beach Golf Links is legendary. Its rolling greens and challenging fairways are set against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. It's not just a course—it's where golf meets breathtaking landscape.

Ghost Trees at Pescadero Point

The haunting beauty of the Ghost Trees at Pescadero Point intrigues visitors. These pale, sun-bleached trees create a stark contrast against the rugged coastline. Pescadero Point is not only a place of stark beauty but also home to one of the most famous surfing spots in the area due to the big wave break.

17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips
17-Mile Drive in Monterey – Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Natural Wonders

When you visit 17-Mile Drive, you're in for an extraordinary experience of nature's beauty, ranging from the iconic Monterey cypress trees to the diverse marine wildlife that graces the Pacific shoreline.

Local Flora

Encounter the enchanting Monterey cypress trees as you journey through 17-Mile Drive. These trees are an emblem of the area, particularly the Cypress Point Lookout where you can see them clinging to the rocky coastline. They are one of only two species of cypress trees found native in California.

Crocker Grove, home to the oldest and largest Monterey cypress trees, invites you to witness these majestic flora. Take in the fragrance and quiet grandeur of this forested area, recognizing you're in the presence of living history, as some trees can be centuries old.

Marine Wildlife Observations

The shores along 17-Mile Drive offer you remarkable opportunities to observe an array of marine wildlife:

  • Sea Lions: Bask in the sun and surf, often heard before they're seen.
  • Harbor Seals: Frequently spotted lounging on the rocky beaches.
  • Sea Otters: Playfully floating in the kelp beds, a heartwarming sight.
  • Birds: From the majestic pelicans gliding over the surf to the various seabirds that inhabit the coastline.

Each turn of the drive may reveal a new encounter with wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for these creatures who call the Monterey coast their home. Remember to bring your binoculars for a close-up view of these animals in their natural habitat, and enjoy the natural symphony of ocean waves mingling with the calls of the wildlife.

17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips
17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, CA, USA – Photo by Amy Vosters on Unsplash

Recreational Activities

As you explore 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, prepare for exceptional recreational experiences, specifically if you have a passion for golf or if you're in pursuit of tranquility through spa and relaxation.

Golfing at World-Class Courses

Pebble Beach Golf Links offers you a golfing experience that's second to none, where the pristine fairways and the stunning ocean views elevate your game. Golfing at this legendary course, you'll follow in the footsteps of golf greats. If variety is what you seek, The Links at Spanish Bay and Del Monte Golf Course provide beautiful settings and unique challenges that cater to golfers of all skill levels. Alternatively, Spyglass Hill Golf Course is a test of skill, winding through the Del Monte Forest, with views that compete for your attention.

Spa and Relaxation

After a round of golf, or as a serene retreat, you can indulge in the ultimate relaxation at the spas located within Pebble Beach. Here, rejuvenating treatments align with the tranquil backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Whether you're seeking a deep tissue massage to soothe those muscles after a game, or a serene spa day to calm your senses, the spas in Pebble Beach are sanctuaries for peace and wellbeing.

17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips
17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, CA, USA – Photo by Sohan Yarlagadda on Unsplash

Dining and Shopping

When you visit 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, you'll not only be treated to extraordinary views but also to a variety of delightful dining options and exclusive shopping experiences. Discover the flavors and crafts that make Pebble Beach a charming destination for your taste buds and shopping desires.

Restaurants and Cafes

  • The Bench
    Enjoy picturesque golf course views while savoring diverse dishes with a focus on comfort food.
  • Porter's In The Forest
    A venue offering dishes made with fresh, local ingredients alongside a compelling selection of wines and craft beers.
  • Pèppoli at Pebble Beach
    Dive into the authentic flavors of Italy with this restaurant's classic Tuscan cuisine.
  • Stillwater Bar & Grill
    A perfect spot for seafood lovers featuring panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

For a cozy cafe experience, From Scratch Restaurant presents itself as a charming choice with home-style meals and fresh-baked goods.

Shopping at Pebble Beach

  • Pebble Beach Market
    Grab gourmet foods, fine wine, and unique gifts to take a piece of Pebble Beach home with you.
  • The Shops at Pebble Beach
    Find exclusive apparel and souvenirs to commemorate your trip, from luxurious brands to golf gear and accessories.

Beaches and Picnic Areas

17-Mile Drive in Monterey boasts a range of scenic spots where you can soak up the sun on sandy beaches or enjoy a leisurely picnic with magnificent ocean views. You'll find a variety of beach access points and designated areas complete with picnic tables to enhance your visit.

Beach Access Points

Within the picturesque confines of 17-Mile Drive, Fanshell Beach offers a serene retreat where the gentle sound of waves creates a tranquil backdrop. The beach is ideal for a peaceful stroll or simply relaxing by the shoreline. Moving along, Spanish Bay Beach beckons you with its wide stretch of sands and the rhythmic lapping of the Pacific. Lastly, Stillwater Cove provides not only a beautiful beach experience but also opportunities for kayaking and viewing marine life in the cove's clear waters.

  • Fanshell Beach: Often less crowded, perfect for a quiet escape.
  • Spanish Bay Beach: A popular choice for its picturesque sunsets.
  • Stillwater Cove: Great for water activities and nature sightings.

Picnic Spots

If you're looking to have a picnic, 17-Mile Drive has several spots designed for your comfort. Look for picnic tables nestled amidst nature, providing a charming spot for a bite with a view. Close to Spanish Bay Beach, several picnic areas allow for a full day's adventure between the beach and a shaded lunch spot.

  • Spanish Bay Picnic Area: Dine with views of dunes and the ocean's expanse.
  • Stillwater Cove Picnic Area: Enjoy a meal surrounded by the lush forest and near the peaceful cove.
17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips
17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, CA, USA – Photo by Amy Vosters on Unsplash


When you visit 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, you'll find an array of accommodations to suit your preferences, from luxurious resorts to private and exclusive stays. Whether you're seeking top-notch amenities or a secluded retreat, there's something for everyone.

Resorts and Lodging

If you're looking for a luxurious experience, Pebble Beach Resorts offer first-class services with stunning ocean views. Choose between several options like:

  • The Lodge at Pebble Beach: Famous for its picturesque views of the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Lodge provides elegance and comfort.
    • Amenities: Golf courses, spa, dining options.
    • Distance to 17-Mile Drive: Onsite.
  • The Inn at Spanish Bay: For a modern retreat amidst nature, The Inn offers both the beauty of pine forests and the Pacific coastline.
    • Amenities: Golf, spa, several restaurants.
    • Distance to 17-Mile Drive: Within minutes.

Accommodations at these resorts include well-appointed rooms, fine dining restaurants, and access to golf courses and spa services. Each stay promises a memorable and upscale experience during your visit to the Monterey Peninsula.

Exclusive Stays

For an intimate and exclusive setting, consider staying at Casa Palmero. This elegant estate provides privacy with personalized service, making it perfect for a serene getaway.

  • Features: 24 private rooms, complimentary breakfast, cocktail hour, and a personal coordinator to attend to your needs.
  • Distance to 17-Mile Drive: Adjacent to The Lodge at Pebble Beach.

Casa Palmero blends the luxury of a top-tier resort with the tranquility of an exclusive residence. Its Mediterranean-style architecture and personalized services offer a unique and upscale lodging experience on your coastal journey.

17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips
17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, CA, USA – Photo by Faith Lehman on Unsplash

Cultural Experiences

When you visit 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, you're embarking on a journey steeped in history, splashed with cultural festivities, and surrounded by the serene beauty of coastal California.

Historic Points of Interest

Spanish Bay beckons with tales of explorers and Spanish galleons. Imagine yourself retracing the steps of early adventurers as you stroll along the same shores where they landed. You won't want to miss the iconic Lone Cypress. Emblematic of endurance, this solitary tree has been perched along the rocky coastline for over 250 years.

In Carmel-by-the-Sea, an enclave known for its artistic heritage, charming historic buildings whisper stories of a bygone era. Every nook has a narrative, inviting your curiosity and offering a quiet reflection on the past.

Seasonal Events and Attractions

As seasons change, 17-Mile Drive comes alive with events that celebrate the region's vibrant culture. Imagine the soothing sound of a bagpiper at Spanish Bay during dusk, an enchanting backdrop to your evening walks. This unique experience blends the tranquility of the sea with the soul-stirring call of the pipes.

Keep an eye out for local events, especially in the picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea. Various festivals and art walks transform the town into a hub of creativity, perfect for immersing yourself in the local culture and perhaps finding that one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home.

17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips
Lone Cypress, Monterrey, USA – Photo by Max Itin on Unsplash

Outdoor Adventures

17-Mile Drive in Monterey offers more than just a scenic road; it's a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts like you. With options for everyone from avid hikers to casual cyclists, your adventure awaits amidst the natural beauty of this coastal treasure.

Hiking and Biking Trails

Craving some physical activity with your sightseeing? You're in luck. Hiking and biking are fantastic ways to experience the variety of landscapes along 17-Mile Drive. Pull out your bicycle and pedal along the roadway, where you're treated to the same stunning views as motorists but at your own pace. Don't have a bike? No worries, there are several places where you can rent one for the day.

  • For Hikers:
    • Monterey Cypress Trail – A leisurely stroll that brings you up close with the famous Cypress trees.
    • Pebble Beach – There are pathways providing picturesque views of the coast, perfect for an easy hike.
  • For Bikers:
    • Bicycle Path – A dedicated bike path that runs parallel to the main road for a safer ride.
    • Equestrian Center Trails – Some trails near the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center may allow biking; check local regulations.

Tip: Always wear a helmet and ensure your bike has the necessary safety equipment.

Wildlife Tours

If you adore wildlife, prepare to be excited. The area is teeming with various animals that call this haven home. Keep your eyes peeled for a chance to spot creatures in their natural habitat.

  • Spotting Wildlife: Whether it be birds, sea otters, or even deer, the diverse ecosystems here are a haven for animal sightings.
  • Bring Binoculars: Enhance your experience by bringing binoculars, which make it easier to see wildlife without disturbing them.
  • Respect Nature: Remember to maintain a safe distance from any wildlife you encounter to avoid disruptions to their environment.
17-Mile Drive in Monterey: Scenic Coastal Journey Tips
17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, CA, USA – Photo by Amy Vosters on Unsplash

Photography and Scenery

In your journey along the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, you'll have the chance to capture some of the most stunning landscapes on the West Coast. Whether you're aiming your camera for a grand panoramic snapshot or seeking that perfect angle with your binoculars, each stop offers a unique visual treat, particularly during the golden hours around sunset.

Scenic Lookouts

  • Point Joe: An area rich in history and legend, Point Joe presents a fascinating mix of rocky coastline and sea that makes for dramatic photos, especially when the waves crash against the shore.
  • China Rock: This location gives you a glimpse into the cultural history of the area with the added beauty of coastal flora. It's ideal for photographers interested in layering natural and historical elements in their work.
  • Cypress Point Lookout: Here you stand at one of the most iconic scenic lookouts along the drive. The famed Lone Cypress tree is visible from this point, providing a breathtaking silhouette against a setting or rising sun.

Remember, a wide-angle lens can be invaluable on this scenic drive, allowing you to capture the full breadth of the landscapes before you. And for wildlife or distant details, consider using a zoom lens to get closer to the action.

Visitor Tips and Resources

Exploring the scenic 17-Mile Drive in Monterey requires a bit of planning to make the most of your adventure. Before embarking on this must-see route, it's important to know about the cost, parking options, and accessibility to ensure a smooth experience.

Parking and Accessibility

Parking: Available at various points along the drive, parking is included in the entry fee. The cost for vehicles is generally around $11.25, and this fee helps maintain the area's natural beauty. For motorcycles, the fee structure might differ, so it's wise to check the latest information prior to your visit.

Accessibility: Keeping inclusivity in mind, most of the standout points, including the picturesque Sunset Drive, are accessible to everyone. Ensure you check for specific accessibility measures at each point of interest, as this can enhance your road trip experience.

Traveler Recommendations

Planning your route from either San Francisco or Los Angeles requires some foresight. You'll find that the drive from San Francisco is particularly stunning, with the Pacific coastline accompanying you for much of the journey.

Consider these tips to make your trip unforgettable:

  • Time Your Visit: Aim for a visit during off-peak hours to avoid the crowds – the soft light during sunrise or sunset provides a magical experience.
  • Prepare for Weather: The coastal weather can be unpredictable; dress in layers and be prepared for changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating your way through the scenic 17-Mile Drive in Monterey is a breeze with these straightforward answers to common queries.

How much does it cost to enter the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey?

Entry to the 17-Mile Drive requires an access fee, which is currently $11.25 for cars.

Are there specific opening and closing times for the 17-Mile Drive?

The 17-Mile Drive in Monterey is open to visitors during daylight hours; however, exact times can vary, so it’s a good idea to check in advance for the specific times during your visit.

Can you provide directions to the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey?

The 17-Mile Drive is situated in Monterey County, connecting the towns of Pacific Grove and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Begin your journey from the Pacific Grove gate to enter this famous drive.

Where can I find a map of the 17-Mile Drive?

A map outlining the various stops and attractions can be obtained at the entrance gate or you may access a digital version online through organizations that feature 17-Mile Drive information.

What are the prime attractions along the 17-Mile Drive?

The 17-Mile Drive in Monterey boasts iconic landmarks, including the Lone Cypress, the opulent Pebble Beach Golf Links, and the stunning coastal scenes like Spanish Bay and Bird Rock.

How long should I plan for a trip on the 17-Mile Drive?

The journey along 17-Mile Drive can take several hours, especially if you plan to savor the views, snap photos, and explore the many points of interest. Budget at least 2-3 hours for the full experience.