- 26 Nov - 02 Dec, 2022
- 11 Jul - 17 Jul, 2020
- Travel Diaries
Hugging the Pacific coastline, leads a romantic, scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula in California, called the 17-Mile Drive. The drive gets its name from its km-long, picturesque scenic loop, having four primary entrances – the main highway entrance at California State Route 1, and entrances in Carmel and Pacific Grove.
The coastline is, in fact, a privately-managed roadway, winding between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, taking one through a wind-shaped forest of cypress trees to a rocky coastline dotted with some of the most enchanting homes in the neighbourhood. Breathtaking views of the celebrated golf courses of Pebble Beach treat the eyes. As one drives on, it gives you a chance to take in the beautiful visions of bewitching Lone Cypress, ponder the giant trees at Crocker Grove, soak in the untouched beauty of Fanshell Beach, behold the power of the Restless Sea at Point Joe, stroll the boardwalk above the beach at Spanish Bay, and allow the beauty to enter your soul. Whether you drive through it, bike it, or walk it, this winding road will make you think one thing above all else: Can I live here?
THINGS TO DO
ADMIRE THE VIEW FROM 800 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL AT HUCKLEBERRY HILL. The forest of Monterey Pines gives the second stop on 17-Mile Drive a Lake-Tahoe feel with an ocean view.
CHECK OUT THE SURF AT SPANISH BAY BEACH. Cars line up outside Spanish Bay Beach to admire surfers catching California waves. On the glassy waters of Stillwater Cove surrounding Pebble Beach Golf Links, you’ll find plenty of kayakers and paddle boarders.
RENT A BIKE AND CRUISE THE COAST. Feel the ocean breeze in your face as you bike around 17-Mile Drive. Rentals for half and full days are available by the Spanish Bay tennis courts.
SOAK IN THE VIEWS OF THE BEACH AND CYPRESS POINT CLUB. Golfers will be drawn to the peeks into the club to your right. But it’s hard not to be impressed by the panoramic and picturesque Fanshell Beach to your left.
PLAY A ROUND OF GOLF IN PEBBLE BEACH. Peter Hay sits above Pebble Beach Golf Links and offers amazing views of Carmel Bay. Clubs are available, and green fees at the family-friendly course include unlimited golf for the day.
THE MOST SCENIC SPOTS
There are various stops along 17-Mile Drive. Here’s one thing to remember about each stop along the way:
Shepherd’s Knoll: The first stop on 17-Mile Drive is named after local railroad man Abraham D Shepard, who also built the early scenic route in the upper forest. A local artist drew up a map of 17-Mile Drive in 1927, calling this stop Shepherd’s Knoll. It’s a gorgeous and unique view looking down on Monterey Bay.
Restless Sea: This is one of the most turbulent spots along the coast, with waves converging and crashing into each other relentlessly.
Seal Rock Picnic Area: An ideal spot to launch your own adventure. Picnic while harbour seals and sea lions play in the surf, find anemones and crabs in the tide pools, and hike on the boardwalk toward the colourful Gingerbread House.
Cypress Point Lookout: This is the best place to catch a sunset in all of Pebble Beach, thanks to its southwesterly view. Just southeast of here is Sunset Point, full of grand mansions from the Roaring Twenties.
The Lone Cyprus: The spectacular Lone Cypress marked the Midway Point of the original 17-Mile Drive, which began at Hotel Del Monte in Monterey. Despite the alternate route, it measured 17 miles, just like it does today. The iconic living trademark is at least 250 years old.
The Ghost Tree: It’s one of the gnarliest Big Wave spots in the world, with swells approaching 50 feet. And for ghost hunters, it’s where the Lady in Lace drifts in and out of the fog on haunted nights.
Pescadero Point: The southwest tip of Carmel Bay offers a peek into Point Lobos – the only other location in the world where Monterey Cypress grow natively.
The Inn and Links at Spanish Bay: Formerly the site of an industrial sand mine, the sand is so white, it once restored the pristine beaches of Waikiki. The site now hosts one of Golf Digest’s Top 50 Courses You Can Play.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Visit one of the world's foremost aquariums and submerge yourself in a magical underwater world of sea life. Featuring numerous large-scale exhibits with everything from otters to penguins to sharks, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is an incredible destination for families as well as adults. See animal feedings, watch animal performances, sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour or participate in a special educational program for families.
From Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, to Beatles Ringo Starr and George Harrison, to Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin and Bing Crosby’s raucous Hollywood friends, Pebble Beach has been a special retreat for celebrities.
Justin Timberlake – The mega star has become an AT&T regular, and sports one of the best celebrity handicaps in the game.
Ian Bohen – The Teen Wolf and Mad Men actor loves to return home. Ian grew up in neighbouring Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Candace Cameron – The Full House and Fuller House star who recently made a deep run in Dancing with the Stars, enjoyed a fairy tale weekend here celebrating her 20th anniversary.
Jake Owen – It’s special when celebrities like country music star Jake Owen can make lifelong memories at Pebble Beach.
TOP ANIMAL-SPOTTING LOCATIONS
For those who want to know where the can't-miss wildlife-spotting areas are, read on!
MOSS LANDING PUBLIC DOCK: The dock was built in 2007 to be used by visitors. Harbour officials say that over 400 sea lions use the dock as their hang-out space. From the walkway above the dock, you can get a close-up view of their antics as they sun themselves, crawl over each other, and dip into the water.
OLD FISHERMAN'S WHARF: The area is primo territory for seals and sea lions, as well as pelicans and many terns and gulls. If you're lucky, you may even catch a pod of dolphins playing in Monterey Bay.
JACKS PEAK: If you're a birder, bring your binoculars! The Skyline Nature Trail is a great place to spot pygmy nuthatches (small birds the size of a champagne cork), hermit and Townsend's warblers, chestnut-backed chickadees, fox sparrows, brown creepers, steller's jays, golden-crowned kinglets and dark-eyed juncos.
POINT SUR LIGHTHOUSE: There's limited access to Point Sur Lighthouse, but it's worth the effort. Humpbacks can usually be spotted from April to December, gray whales in the winter and spring, blue whales in the spring and summer, and orcas and minkes year round.
MONARCH GROVE BUTTERFLY SANCTUARY: From October to February, thousands of butterflies make the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove their home. Pick a day when the temperature is over 55 degrees to catch these flying jewels in full flutter.
WILD THINGS AND VISION QUEST RANCH: Wild Things provides a sanctuary for trained wild birds and animals. Many of them are also animal actors, seen in films and on television.
ELKHORN SLOUGH: A rookery for Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons, this is a key birding spot for checking waterfowl off your list. There's 346 documented species of birds that spend time at Elkhorn Slough, so you won't go home unsatisfied.
BEST TIME TO GO
The best time to take the 17-Mile Drive is during the fall or spring. Winter can be rainy, and summer morning fog can linger until afternoon – or even all day. For the best chance of clear skies, go in mid to late afternoon.
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