No visit to the Monterey Coast is complete without travelling the 17 Mile Drive with its amazing scenery, wonderful food and stunning architecture. Covering 17 miles of coastline and forest in the gated community of Pebble Beach this iconic drive incorporates one of my favourite places in the whole world, Spanish Bay. But more about that later.
There are several entry gates to the 17 Mile Drive; we always enter via the Highway 1 Gate. The 17 Mile Drive is a toll road. It is free to walk or bike the route but motorcycles are not allowed. At the time of writing the fee is $10 per car, refundable if you dine and present your receipt at any of Pebble Beach Resort’s restaurants.
From the moment you drive through the gates and begin to follow the very clearly signposted route, it’s clear that this is going to be a very special experience indeed.
Highlights of The 17 Mile Drive
The first vista point is Shepherd’s Knoll, which offers a beautiful view of Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz Mountains. From there you pass Huckleberry Hill and Poppy Hills Golf Course en route to The Inn and Links at Spanish Bay. As I mentioned before, Spanish Bay, a breathtaking piece of coastline, is one of my favourite places on the planet. I have wonderful memories of windswept walks here.
We also love the elegant yet unpretentious atmosphere of The Inn at Spanish Bay itself. Although we have yet to stay here (it’s on the list!), we always stop at Roy’s Restaurant in the hotel for lunch. The views are incredible and the food is fresh, innovative and delicious.
After lunch, it’s time for our walk along the coast, up past the beautiful Residences at The Inn at Spanish Bay and then back down to Spanish Bay itself. If there’s time after our walk, we sit outside at The Inn to enjoy a coffee before we head off on the rest of the drive.
There are 21 points of interest on the 17 Mile Drive. From Spanish Bay it’s on to The Restless Sea and Point Joe to Bird Rock and Seal Rock, past Spyglass Hill Golf Course and on to Cypress Point Lookout. Cypress Point Lookout was closed when we visited this time as April 1 to June 1 is seal pupping season. It’s disappointing not to be able to see the seal pups, but the mommy and baby seals need their privacy at this tender time. At other times of the year you can see the seals basking on the rocks here.
All along the route, you pass the most gorgeous homes. From huge mansions to elegant sprawling bungalows in every architectural style imaginable, this is a real glimpse into how the other half lives.
In the beautiful Del Monte Forest there’s Crocker Grove and the iconic Lone Cypress, perched on a rocky cliff for more than 250 years. I am less fond of the next stop (number 17), The Ghost Tree, a very spooky looking Monterey cypress tree that has a trunk bleached white from years of winds.
After a stop at Pescadero Point for gorgeous views of Carmel Bay and Stillwater Cove it’s on to my second favourite stop on this route, The Lodge at Pebble Beach.
Pebble Beach Golf Course is famous for its tournaments and for its vintage association with crooner Bing Crosby and friends. There’s a wonderful, glamorous air to this place, and even though we are not golfers there is a special thrill to being able to stand by the famous 18th hole. The Lodge is friendly and welcoming, a great place for a cocktail or a coffee with beautiful views of the 18th hole and the coastline. It is a dream of mine to stay at The Lodge and enjoy their Stillwater Bar and Grill. One day!
There are two more stops on the drive after The Lodge (another golf course, the 100th US Open Monument and an Equestrian Center) but we usually finish our adventure at Pebble Beach. It’s the perfect end to a wonderful afternoon’s drive.
Find out more by searching ’17 Mile Drive’ at Visit California.