17-Mile Drive: The Ultimate Guide to California's Scenic Wonders

Have you ever dreamt of a drive where you can witness pristine coastal beaches, majestic forests, opulent mansions, and world-class golf courses, all in a stretch of just 17 miles? You need to put 17-Mile Drive in California on your bucket list.

This scenic journey is a spectacle of nature and affluence, stretching from the historic Pacific Grove to the luxurious Pebble Beach.

History of the 17-Mile Drive

Steeped in a rich tapestry of time, the 17-Mile Drive was not always the enchanting tourist attraction that it is today.

The drive, a part of the original California State Route 56, was established in the late 1880s by the Pacific Improvement Company as a scenic carriage route for guests at Hotel Del Monte, one of California’s most luxurious resorts.

Pebble Beach Golf Links California Coastline
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Through the passage of time, the drive’s stunning vistas of the rugged Pacific coastline and lush Del Monte Forest became a must-see destination, attracting visitors from all over the globe.

As the drive’s reputation grew, so too did the luxurious residences that line the route. From the legendary Lone Cypress, one of California’s most enduring landmarks, to the prestigious Pebble Beach Golf Links, the 17-Mile Drive has always blended the breathtaking allure of nature with the epitome of affluence.

Where to Start the Journey

Ready to kick start your adventure along the 17-Mile Drive? You can begin your journey from several entry points: Pacific Grove Gate, S.F.B Morse Gate, or the Highway 68 Gate. Each route offers a distinct starting point for your trip, and all lead to the wonders ahead.

However, there’s something special about starting your drive from Pacific Grove, known for its charming, historic lighthouse and sweeping ocean views.

The best times to visit? Well, the 17-Mile Drive is spectacular year-round, but if you’re a photography enthusiast, the golden hours of sunrise and sunset can make the landscape even more magical.

17 Mile Drive Point By Point
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Also, remember to keep an eye on the weather – the drive is most enjoyable on clear, sunny days.

There’s a small fee to embark on the 17-Mile Drive, but it’s worth every penny. The memories you’ll create and the pictures you’ll capture will make this scenic trip unforgettable.

Point-by-Point Guide to the 17-Mile Drive

Let’s buckle up and embark on an unforgettable journey through the famous 17-Mile Drive. Here’s your detailed guide to the must-see stops along the way:

  1. Shepherd’s Knoll: Kick-start your drive with panoramic views of Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz Mountains. Did you know? This vantage point was named after Abraham D. Shepard, not a sheepherder!
  2. Huckleberry Hill: This stop offers a great view of the lush forests on one side and the Monterey Peninsula on the other.
  3. Spanish Bay: Inspired by the Spanish explorers who camped here in 1769, it’s a fantastic spot for picnics and to soak in the tranquil views of the ocean. Listen to the bagpiper who plays here during sunset!
  4. The Restless Sea: Feel the power of the Pacific Ocean here. The unusual wave action is due to submerged rocks and an ocean shelf close to shore.
  5. Point Joe: This place was often mistaken for the entrance of Monterey Bay in the olden days, resulting in numerous shipwrecks. The vistas are absolutely captivating.
  6. China Rock: It’s a site steeped in history where Chinese fishermen once built lean-tos against the rocks.
  7. Bird Rock: Aptly named for the birds, sea lions, and harbor seals that frequent this rock. Bring binoculars for a closer look!
  8. Seal Rock: A quick drive from Bird Rock, it’s a fantastic place to watch seals and sea lions basking on the offshore rocks.
  9. The Lone Cypress: One of the most photographed trees in North America. This iconic, 250-year-old tree stands on a granite hillside, framed by the infinite ocean.
  10. Ghost Trees at Pescadero Point: Named for their stark and bleached appearance, the ghost trees offer a unique and eerie backdrop against the beautiful ocean views.
  11. Crocker Grove: It’s home to the oldest and largest Monterey Cypress trees in existence.
  12. The Lodge at Pebble Beach: Wrap up your drive by exploring the prestigious Pebble Beach Golf Links or indulge in a little retail therapy or fine dining at The Lodge.

Remember, the 17-Mile Drive is not just about the destination; it’s about the journey. So take your time, absorb the beauty, and cherish each moment you spend in this mesmerizing place.

Exploring the Natural Beauty

Immersed in the heart of California, the 17-Mile Drive is a treasure trove of natural beauty.

From the towering Monterey Pines of Del Monte Forest to the sun-kissed sands of Spanish Bay, nature-lovers will find themselves lost in a living canvas of vibrant colors and scenic panoramas.

Don’t miss the Cypress Point Lookout for a glimpse of gray whales (especially during migration season from December to April). Look closely at the tidal pools at Fanshell Overlook and you might just spot a harbor seal or two, particularly in spring when they give birth on the white sandy beaches.

The route is also home to an array of bird species, from the Black Oystercatchers by the shore to the Red-Tailed Hawks in the forests.

And let’s not forget the Lone Cypress, the iconic tree that has stood valiantly against the ocean’s winds for over 250 years.

Activities and Attractions Along the 17-Mile Drive

In addition to its natural splendors, the 17-Mile Drive boasts a host of activities and attractions. Golf enthusiasts will be captivated by the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the world, playing a round here is a truly bucket-list experience.

For those who prefer leisurely walks, a stroll along the beach at Spanish Bay or through the enchanted forest of Crocker Grove, home to the oldest Monterey Cypress trees, is an absolute must.

17 Mile Drive Activities Attractions
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Don’t forget to pack a picnic – there are plenty of perfect spots to sit, relax, and soak up the stunning views.

And for history buffs, the drive is dotted with markers and plaques that tell tales of the area’s rich history. Don’t miss the Ghost Tree, a bleached, spectral Monterey Cypress, its eerie beauty adding a touch of mystique to Pescadero Point.

The Luxurious Side of the 17-Mile Drive

The 17-Mile Drive isn’t just about natural beauty and breathtaking views; it also flaunts a side of opulence that’s hard to miss. The drive winds through some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the world. These grand residences, nestled within the Del Monte Forest, redefine luxury with their sprawling estates and exquisite architectural designs.

The real gem of this luxury-laden journey is the Pebble Beach Resorts. Home to world-class golf courses, including the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Links, the resort is a playground for the rich and famous.

With its luxurious spas, gourmet restaurants, and upscale shopping, the resort embodies the spirit of extravagance that the 17-Mile Drive is known for.

Tips for an Amazing 17-Mile Drive Experience

Enjoying the 17-Mile Drive to the fullest requires a little bit of planning and preparation. Here are some tips to ensure you have an amazing experience:

  • Time It Right: Although the drive is beautiful throughout the year, the best times to visit are during spring and fall when the weather is most pleasant.
  • Pack a Picnic: There are several picnic spots along the route like Spanish Bay, so packing a picnic would add to the fun.
  • Camera Ready: Every bend of the 17-Mile Drive offers a picture-perfect view. Don’t forget your camera to capture these unforgettable moments.
  • Slow and Steady: There’s no need to rush. Take your time, soak in the views, and enjoy the journey.
  • Follow the Red Dots: The drive is marked by red-dashed lines in the middle of the road, which serve as your guiding path.
  • Respect the Surroundings: This is a residential area, so be respectful. Stick to the speed limit, be cautious of wildlife, and maintain the serenity of the surroundings.
  • Dress in Layers: The weather can be unpredictable, especially by the coast, so it’s advisable to dress in layers.


How long does it take to go around the 17-Mile Drive?

The time it takes to complete the 17-Mile Drive can vary greatly depending on how often and how long you stop. If you drive straight through without stopping, it could take around 20 minutes.

However, to truly appreciate the stunning views and landmarks, it’s recommended to spend 2-3 hours at least. If you plan to picnic, golf, hike, or take a leisurely exploration of the various points, you could easily spend a whole day here.

What is 17-Mile Drive CA?

The 17-Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula in California.

It’s famed for its breathtaking coastal landscapes, featuring dramatic cliffs, beautiful beaches, mystical forests, world-class golf courses, and lavish mansions. It is marked by numerous turnouts, which tourists and locals alike use to take photographs, walk, or picnic.

Can you run on 17-Mile Drive?

Yes, you can. The 17-Mile Drive is a popular route for runners due to its stunning scenery and well-maintained paths.

Just be mindful of vehicular traffic and always prioritize safety. Please remember to respect the tranquility of the residential areas and the local wildlife.

What time of year is best for 17-Mile Drive?

While the 17-Mile Drive can be enjoyed all year round, the most ideal times to visit are during the spring and fall when the weather is generally pleasant and mild.

In spring, you can also enjoy the blooming wildflowers along the drive. However, each season offers its own unique beauty, and even winters can be quite mild and enjoyable.

Is 17-Mile Drive California worth it?

Absolutely! The 17-Mile Drive is not just a road; it’s a journey through some of the most stunning coastal scenery in California. It offers a unique blend of natural beauty and luxury, with opportunities to explore beaches, forests, golf courses, and more.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a photographer, a golfer, or just someone looking to escape and relax, the 17-Mile Drive is a captivating and worthwhile experience


In essence, California’s 17-Mile Drive is an epic journey that encapsulates a captivating blend of natural beauty and luxury.

From the serene beaches of Pacific Grove to the opulent grounds of Pebble Beach, this iconic coastal drive offers an experience that is both breathtakingly beautiful and remarkably luxurious.

Each turn reveals another enchanting scene, ensuring an unforgettable experience from start to finish.