17-Mile Drive

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Pebble Beach, California

17-Mile Drive Pebble Beach Reviews

missandrea81 missandr…
147 reviews
Scenic drive with a price tag Jul 14, 2016
Since we've moved to the Monterey Bay area we have done this drive (not completely) twice. It's the perfect place to show to visitors, or people who have exhausted other (free) options to see the rugged California coast line.

The 17-mile-drive can be accessed from several places. When coming from Monterey you can enter right off Hwy 1 Exit/ 17-mile-drive, or you can drive to Pacific Grove first and then enter through the gate there. We prefer the second option, because you save yourself a lot of left and right turns through the forest part of the drive, and get straight to the coast line. This is ideal if you don't want to spend all day and want to get to the highlights.

When you enter the gates, you'll be paying $10 per vehicle. You're given a map of the highlights, and they will tell you to follow the red dotted line. This is very good advice since you'll otherwise get lost in the residential area of the forest.

Our favorite spots are Spanish Bay (for the sand and benches), Bird Rock (for spotting wildlife, such as seals, otters, birds [duh], squirrels, etc etc) and of course the Lone Cypress.

On an overcast day you should be lucky to find parking easily, but I'm sure that it would be different when it's sunny and peak season for tourists. Just skip the crowded points and pull over at the next stop. The view will be spectacular anywhere.

Being new to the West Coast, I have nothing to compare this experience to, but if you're in the area and are looking for a relaxed (non-highway) drive, this is for you.
Bird on a Rock at Bird Rock
View by Bird Rock
View by Bird Rock
View by Bird Rock
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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X_Drive X_Drive
837 reviews
World Famous Tourist Trap Apr 18, 2012
Since the very late 1800s after the purchase of the 5,000 acre Del Monte Forest, carriages and then automobiles have been slowly making their way along the very scenic coastline and through the ever changing landscapes of this forested peninsula. With plenty of Cypress and Monterey Pines, very dramatic coastline, dunes and beaches, opulent homes, and world class golf courses, this drive has become quite famous.

Today, there are 21 Points of Interest marked along the drive. They are as follows:

Note: The descriptions are from the very nice glossy handout given as you pay to enter. Anything inside () are additional comments I have made.

1. Shepherd’s Knoll – a vista point early and high on the drive which at one time gave a grand view of Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz mountains. (Today, the trees have grown so much that most of the view is completely blocked.)

2. Huckleberry Hill – Named for the abundance of native huckleberry bushes, this is one of the highest elevations in the forest. (No, the huckleberry bushes were not tagged. They easily could have been anything.)

3. Poppy Hills Golf Course – Poppy Hills is the home of the Northern California Golf Association. All facilities are open to the public. (This means there is a bathroom available, something that is needed for some. And the first of many golf courses.)

4. The Inn & Links at Spanish Bay – Established in 1987 by Pebble Beach Company, this world-famous resort and Scottish-style links course in famous for the bagpiper that closes the course each evening. (Rooms at the Inn start at $615 but a suite can run you $2,800 per night.)

5. Spanish Bay – Don Gaspar de Portola, the Spanish explorer, and his crew camped here in 1769 while searching for Monterey Bay. A scenic picnic stop, this is also a pleasant location for a stroll around the shoreline.

6. The Restless Sea – From this vista point, take note of the unique offshore turbulence generated by the submerged terrain off Point Joe.

7. Point Joe – Early mariners often crashed upon these rocks after mistakenly setting their course for this point, believing that it was the entrance to Monterey Bay.

8. China Rock – Here and at Point Joe, Chinese fishermen built lean-tos against the rocks for their homes in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

9. Bird Rock Hunt Course – (no road marker) This long time site of the once popular equestrian hunt and steeplechase competitions was also used in the 1920s by the 11th Calvary for riding and saber practice. It is now part of the Shore Course of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club.

10. Bird Rock – This stately landmark is home to countless shorebirds and groups of harbor seals and sea lions.

11. Seal Rock Picnic Area – Relax and picnic here, surrounded by a vibrant mix of marine and bird life. (who have grown so accustomed to humans that they pester you for food from the time you sit down until you run screaming like they did in the old movie “The Birds”.)

12. Spyglass Hill Golf Course – Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., this notorious golf course takes it theme from the classic tale Treasure Island, whose author Robert Lewis Stevenson, was inspired by the wonders of the peninsula’s forest and sea in 1879. This facility is open to the public. (maybe so you can shower after visiting Seal Rock Picnic Area)

13. 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 seal pupping season, April 1 to June 1.

14. Cypress Point Lookout – For over 100 years, this point has been a preferred view of the dramatic Pacific coastline. Closed April 1 to June 1.

15. Crocker Grove – This 13-acre nature preserve harbors numerous species of native pine and cypress. The granddaddy of all Monterey cypress is located here. It is named for Charles Crocker, who established the 17-mile drive in 1881. (but good luck trying to figure out just which one it might be)

16. The Lone Cypress – As one of California’s most enduring landmarks, The Lone Cypress has prevailed on its rocky perch for over 250 years. This icon of fortitude has inspired many and is revered as the symbol of Pebble Beach Company. (and is truly the one and only real Point of Interest along the entire drive if you are not interested in golf.)

17. The Ghost Tree – With a trunk bleached white from wind, this unique Monterey cypress has a sinister silhouette worthy of examination.

18. Pescadero Point – This location marks the northern-most of Carmel Bay and Stillwater Cove.

19. The Lodge at Pebble Beach – Built in 1919, The Lodge is the heart and soul of Pebble Beach and home to world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links. Open to the public, it offers a variety of dining and shopping options. The golf shop, a refreshment at The Tap Room, picnic supplies from The Market, first tee, and views of the sweeping 18th fairway and green have been must-dos for visitors and guests for over 90 years. (Rooms here start at $715, with suites up to $2,425 per night)

20. Peter Hay Par-3 Golf Course and 100th U.S. Open Monument – Named for the longtime Pebble Beach golf pro, Peter Hay, this par-3 course is open to the public. Inquire at the kiosk for tee times and golf club rentals. Standing at the top of Peter Hay Golf Course is the 30,000 pound, 15 foot tall, bronze sculpture, Momentum, created by artist Richard MacDonald, a monument dedicated at the 100th U.S. Open golf Championship.

21. Pebble Beach Equestrian Center – Guided horseback trail rides, riding lessons, boarding, and numerous major West Coast equestrian events are held here annually.

(Golf along this drive is expensive too. Spanish Bay - $260, Spyglass - $360, and Pebble Beach - $495. All of these are plus cart, unless you are staying there.)

They do not allow any type of motorcycle on this drive (for noise reasons) and the speed limits are posted generally at 20 mph, so the full trip can easily take a couple of hours, if you stop at all for pictures, which is another reason to stop at the different golf courses to use their facilities.

The cost for the 17-mile drive is $9.75 per vehicle.

Can you tell that paying that much to see some extremely over-the-top homes and lots of golf courses that charge an arm and a leg to play was not the best thing of our trip? I have driven through others areas in the world where the homes were beautiful and the landscaping was nice and didn’t need to pay such a fee. But then it is almost worth that price just to visit and photograph the Lone Cypress.
9 / 9 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
missandrea81 says:
A very thorough review here. How can I do any better? I won't even try, but I will probably write one, when I revisited the 17 mile drive.
Posted on: Jun 06, 2016
sylviandavid says:
Enjoyed reading your feature.... and the lone pine pictures is great..... Thanks for your reality based comments.... shame on them for ruining a nice drive. Although they must turn a tidy profit just from the drivers.
Posted on: May 11, 2012
montecarlostar says:
Congrats on your feature, Roger!! :D
Posted on: May 09, 2012

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photo by: missandrea81