I’ve lived in California all my life and though I’ve driven up and down Highway 1 for the scenic route, I’ve never checked out the gorgeous 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, CA. I finally made the trip to go during the last summer weekend of the year and was rewarded with perfect weather.
The 17-Mile Drive has 17 points of interest throughout 17 miles of scenic road on the coast through Pebble Beach with views of the Pacific Ocean, famous golf courses, mansions and historic landmarks. It’s all private property and you have to pay $10.50/car to enter the area.
- The drive is a loop. It’s easier to go to each stop chronologically. You can technically go back to a stop if you missed one, but you’ll definitely be backtracking.
- Fill up on gas before you start the loop. I think there might be a gas station inside the area, but it’s better to fill up beforehand.
- There is only one lane for the loop. If there’s a lot of people, you’ll have to be patient.
- We were fine without a GPS. You’ll get a map at the entrance and there are pretty clear signs. You’ll also know that you’re on the right path if you’re following a red and yellow dashed line.
- We went towards the end of summer so it wasn’t as crowded, but I can see this place getting pretty crowded during the summers. Some of the spots have limited parking so if you’re going during a popular season, you might have to wait for parking or skip a stop.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Some of the stops are really rocky and sandy.
- Bring water for hot days. A few of the stops have restrooms.
- Bring a hat and or sunscreen for hot days. There are some spots where there are not much shade. Since it’s next to the coast, there’s a good chance it could be gloomy/windy as well.
- We didn’t do this, but you can bring food as there are some picnic tables for you to enjoy.
- If you’re planning to stop at every stop, I would suggest giving yourself at least half a day. You’ll be sucked into admiring all the sights and taking pictures at every stop.
- Bring your camera. You’ll definitely want to take pictures.
With the trees, water and even the mansions, you get a snapshot of of what California is like. See below for (some) pictures and descriptions of the 17 points of interest. We skipped a few stops so that we can see most of the things we wanted to see before the sun set.
Note: all descriptions are quoted from the “Your Guide to 17-Mile Drive” brochure we got at the gate.
1. Shepherd’s Knoll
“Shepherd’s Knoll offers a unique elevated view looking down on Monterey Bay. It’s named after local railroad man Abraham D. Shepard, who also built the upper scenic route on 17-Mile Drive in the forest.”
2. Huckleberry Hill
“Take in this tree-top-level view at Huckleberry Hill, where you can see Santa Cruz in the distance. The huckleberry-filled hills, which have been set aside as permanent preserved forest, were rumored to be frequented by writers Robert Louis Stevenson and Jon Steinbeck.”
3. Spanish Beach Bay
“Spanish Explorers camped out here in 1769. They were trying to find the Monterey Bay based on a description from 1602, but it took them a year. This beautiful beach was named Spanish Bay Beach after their early visit.”
4. The Restless Sea
“The Restless Sea earns its name as one of the most turbulent sections of coastline in Pebble Beach. Waves are constantly converging and crashing into each other, likely caused by submerged rocks.”
5. Point Joe
“Early mariners mistake Point Joe as the entrance to Monterey Bay, making it the site of many shipwrecks. In the early 1900s, a man named Joe lived in a driftwood hut here, selling trinkets to tourist and tending goats. It is debated whether Joe was named for the Point, or the point was named for Joe.”
6. China Rock
“China Rock was the site of a small Chinese fishing village in the late 1800s.”
7. Bird Rock
“This wildlife hub is buzzing with birds, harbor seals and barking sea lions. Bird Rock was actually covered in 4-5 feet of pelican and cormorant guano until 1930, when it was harvested as a fertilizer. Sea lions took advantage of the cleaned-off perch, and have been sunbathing there ever since.”
8. Sea Rock
“The tucked-away beach to the mouth of Seal Rock Creek is a great spot stretch your legs and explore. Picnic, explore tide pools, or hike on the boardwalk toward the colorful Gingerbread House.”
9. Fanshell Beach Overlook
“Fanshell beach is one of the primary pupping habitats for harbor seals on the Central Coast.”
10. Cypress Point Lookout
“Cypress Point Lookout offers a spectacular spot to catch sunsets, thanks to its southwest views. The pure white sand of the beach below is home to harbor seals, who each spring return to bear their young. Closed April 1-June 1 for pupping season.”
11. Crocker Grove
“Crocker Grove is home to the largest and oldest Monterey Cypress trees in existence. It is named after Charles Crocker, the railroad baron responsible for building the luxurious Hotel Del Monte in Monterey and the original 17-mile drive in 1881. Pebble Beach contains one of the only two native Monterey Cypress forests in the world. The other is across Carmel Bay at Point Lobos State Park.”
12. The Lone Cypress
“For more than 250 years, the world-famous Lone Cypress has braved the elements atop its rocky pedestal overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Known as Midway Point on the original 17-Mile Drive, this iconic tree has been the logo for Pebble Beach Resorts since its founding in 1919.”
13. Ghost Tree at Pescadero Point
“Ghost Trees at Pescadero Point is a unique top full of spooky sun-bleached Cypress trees. It is also a legendary Big Wave surf spot, with swells approaching 50 feet in the right winter conditions.”
14. Pebble Beach Visitor Center
“From its early days as a simple stopping point on a scenic carriage ride, to its emergence as the golf capital of the world, the fascinating story of Pebble Beach is brought to life at the Pebble Beach Visitor Center. The new Visitor Center is a wonderful stop to learn abut Pebble Beach history, pick up souvenirs or grab a refreshment for the drive.”
15. Pebble Beach Golf Links
“No public course in the United States can mate the Major championship pedigree of Pebble Beach Golf Links. Built by amateur golfers Jack Neville and Douglas Grant in 1919, Pebble Beach hosted its sixth U.S. Open in June 2019 to along with the five U.S. Amateurs, two U.S. Women’s Amateurs, and the 1977 PGA Championship. Ranked the No. 1 public course in America, Pebble Beach Golf Links has also been selected to host the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open and 2027 U.S. Open. Learn more about the rich history of Pebble Beach at the Wall of Champions behind the first tee.”
16. Pebble Beach Equestrian Center
“The Pebble Beach Equestrian center opens in 1924, just five years after Pebble Beach Golf Links. It hosted the U.S. team trials ahead of the 1960 Olympics. Choose from a variety of guided horseback tours that are available daily.”
17. Ford Meadow
“Robert F. Ford (1907-1979) knew he was “home” when he passed by this meadow. A generous donor to the work of the Del Monte Forest Conservatory, the meadow was dedicated to his memory on August 26, 1981.”
Overall, it’s a gorgeous drive. I loved being outside and being in all the nature and I would totally recommend this to anyone visiting (or even living) in California.