Winding through the Pacific coastline from Pebble Beach to Pacific Grove in the Monterey Peninsula is the scenic drive – 17 Mile Drive. It looks like a painting based on my photos yet it is only a snippet of what you’ll actually see it you are there standing at the coastal cliffs marveling at the view.
The scenic 17 Mile Drive has some of the most amazing views you’ll ever get to see in your lifetime – especially if you make a stop at Pescadero Point. Make sure to add it to your travel bucket list! It’s located 2 hours south of San Francisco or 5 hours north of Los Angeles. Driving through the 17 Mile Drive, you’ll get to pass through famous golf courses, mansions, picnic sites, and scenic attractions like the famous Lone Cypress.
17 Mile Drive Tips:
1. Enter the 17 Mile Drive from the north
Whether you want to make a stop at the various 17 Mile Drive attractions or simply wish to enjoy the view in your car, make sure to enter from the Highway 1 gate. The 17 Mile Drive entrance at the Pacific Grove gate is the northernmost entrance so you will be traveling from the North to the South will enable you to be on the coast side.
Entering from the Carmel gate (southernmost gate) means you’re on the other side of the road (opposite the coast) where there is no street parking, which will then ask you to make U-turns just to park to stop at the scenic attractions. Making U-turns at the 17 Mile Drive can be dangerous and sometimes impossible.
These are the three 17 Mile Drive Entrances. The one we recommend is the Pacific Grove Gate is at 17-Mile Drive. It is located on 17 Mile Drive and Sunset Dr. Another entrance is Country Club Gate located in the middle at Congress Ave. and Forest Lodge Rd. And the 3rd entrance is at the very south which is the Samuel Morse Gate located at Hwy 68 and Samuel Morse Dr.
2. Get your $10.25 ready, cash only
There is a 17 Mile Drive entrance toll fee of $10.25 for non-residents of this gated community of mansions but it can be reimbursed with a purchase of $35 or more at all Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants, excluding Pebble Beach Market. Admission is complimentary for overnight guests of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay and Casa Palermo and guest/s of residents. It is also complimentary for those biking or walking the 17 Mile Drive. Motorcycles are prohibited. The 17 Mile Drive entrance hours is from sunrise to sunset.
3. Visit on a weekday if possible
Only street parking is available to stop at most of the scenic attractions at the 17 Mile Drive so try to visit when it’s most likely less busy – weekdays and non-holidays. We drove through the 17 Mile Drive on a Friday just before lunch and it was not that crowded giving us the chance to easily park at the limited number of street parking.
4. Attractions are numbered with a sign, watch out for them
There are 21 Points of Interest at the 17 Mile Drive. You will be given a map upon paying at the toll gate. The map will show you stops of the attractions but with so many stops and with cars zooming fast, you won’t have time to study the map. So, I would suggest just looking out for these numbered markers on the road. #18 Pescadero Point is my favorite!
5. Check the 17 Mile Drive Points of Interest before driving:
- Shepherd’s Knoll
- Huckleberry Hill
- Poppy Hills Golf Course
- The Inn & Links at Spanish Bay
- Spanish Bay
- The Restless Sea
- Point Joe
- China Rock
- Bird Rick Hunt Course
- Bird Rock
- Seal Rock Picnic Area
- Spyglass Hill Golf Course
- Fanshell Overlook
- Cypress Point Lookout
- Crocker Grove
- The Lone Cypress
- The Ghost Tree
- Pescadero Point
- The Lodge at Pebble Beach
- Peter Hay Par-3 Golf Course
- Pebble Beach Equestrian Center
6. Stop at Fanshell Overlook
The pure white sand of the beach below is irresistible to harbor seals, who each spring return to bear their young. Closed during the harbor seal pupping season though – April 1 – June 1.
7. Visit on a clear day
You will be visiting 17 Mile Drive for the view so make sure to visit on a clear day to truly appreciate it. There’s not much to see if it is too foggy. This is especially important if you want to take pictures of the one Cypress and the coastal cliffs.
8. Pack a Picnic or make a Restaurant reservation
There are various 17 Mile Drive picnic stops along the way – one at Spanish Bay and another at the Seal Rock Picnic Area. The map or road markers will indicate them. You can also choose to dine at the restaurants which will enable you to reimburse your gate fee. Make sure to present your gate receipt to your server.
17 Mile Drive Restaurant Choices:
- The Lodge at Pebble Beach – Stillwater Bar & Grill, The Tap Room, The Bench, Gallery Cafe, and The Terrace Lounge.
- The Inn at Spanish Bay – Peppoli at Pebble Beach, Roy’s at Pebble Beach, STICKS, Traps, The Lobby Lounge, and Stave Wine Cellar
- additional dining – Soyglass Grill, and Pebble Beach Market*
* reimbursement of gate fee not provided for this restaurant
9. Set a few hours to enjoy it all and use the bathroom before you enter the gates
We entered just an hour before lunch time so we only got to visit 3 sites coz’ the kids were hungry after playing at Carmel Beach that morning.
10. Stop at the famous Lone Cypress
A Western icon, the Lone Cypress is one of the most photographed trees in North America. It stands on a granite hillside off the 17 Mile Drive and is 250 years old. The cypress tree has been scarred by fire and has been held in place with cables for 65 years now.
11. Stop at Pescadero Point/ Ghost Tree – a must see!
My favorite stop! See tree trunks bleached white from the wind – the Ghost Trees at Pescadero Point. Also, marvel at the view of rock formations and the Pacific waves from this beautiful cliff point with views of Carmel Bay and Stillwater Cove. This was my favorite stop of the 3 stops we made. Seriously Breathtaking!
Once you exit the 17 Mile Drive at the Carmel Gate, you can continue on to see more scenic views by driving through or stopping at the coast of Carmel Beach (one-way going South – Scenic Road) and ending at Carmel River State Beach – a beach on one side and a river on another.
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