17 Mile drive is located between Carmel-By-The-Sea and Monterey in California along the Pebble Beach shores. The Pebble Beach shores first welcomed visitors in 1881, and its residents have worked hard since to share what’s so special about this area. 17 Mile drive takes you along the scenic Pacific Ocean coastline, winding you through the Del Monte Forest, white-sand beaches, and world renowned golf courses. Whether you are visiting on a day trip from San Francisco or as a stop along your Pacific Coast Highway road trip, this is a must visit location. Keep reading for everything you need to know about the 17 Mile drive!
Table of Contents
When to Complete the 17 Mile Drive
Carmel-by-the-Sea features warm weather throughout the year, with average temperature reaching 65 F (18.3 C). That being said, September to October will offer the warmest weather with the average high of 72 F (22.2 C), and is less foggy than the summer time. Overall, there’s not a bad time to plan a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea so pick what works best for you!
How to Get to the 17 Mile Drive
Nestled between Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea is the 17 Mile drive, and there are main two entrances to choose. The first is at the highway 1 gate on the northern end of the drive, with the second at the Carmel entrance at the southern end of the drive. We recommend entering from the Highway 1 gate so you’re driving north to south. Not only are the views better out of the passenger side, but the stops are also on the right side of the road, making this more convenient for parking.
Admission: Admission is $10.75/ vehicle. There is a booth you pass through to enter the drive that accepts cash or credit. Side note — the entrance fee can be refunded by making a purchase over $35 at any Pebble Beach Resort restaurant.
Getting Around 17 Mile Drive
The most common way to get around 17 Mile drive is by car. However, if you are looking for something more adventurous, then you can also complete the drive by bike. Just keep in mind the drive is 17 miles long, so this would take up a large part of your day! Additionally, most stops don’t have bike locks so you wouldn’t want to stray too far from the parking lot areas.
An important note is that motorcycles aren’t allowed on this drive, and you will be turned around at the gates.
Stops Along the 17 Mile Drive
The 17 Mile drive is filled with 17 stops, pretty straight forward! The 17 stops along the drive all have something unique to offer. From the scenic views to the history, there is something for everyone. Keep reading for our breakdown of all the stops.
Stop 1: Sheperd’s Knoll
Sheperd’s Knoll is the first stop along the 17 Mile drive. It’s an elevated area surrounded by trees, and while it can offer views of Monterey, for most seasons it’s a view of the forest. This stop is bit further away from the others so we recommend skipping if you’re short on time.
Stop 2: Huckleberry Hill
Next up is Huckleberry Hill, which is an overlook with views of a forest filled with huckleberry trees. If you squint, you can sometimes see Santa Cruz visible in the background. Overall, this stop is quiet and serene, but if you’re here for coastline views, then I would also skip this stop.
Stop 3: Spanish Bay Beach
Spanish Bay Beach is the first beach stop and starts off the Ocean portion of the 17 Mile drive. This is one of the few spots where you can park and really walk along the beach. We recommend walking along the boardwalk and enjoying the views of the beach as well as the hundreds of stacked rocks.
Stop 4: The Restless Sea
The Restless Sea is the stop that has the most restless water and waves, largely due to the submerged rocks just off the shoreline. While this is toted as the most restless, we found that several spots had the classic waves crashing into the rocks. This stop is right beside the next stop Point Joe, so we recommend parking and exploring both.
Stop 5: Point Joe
Next up is Point Joe, which is a large rocky outcropping in the ocean. Point Joe was often mistaken as the opening to Monterey Bay by sailors back in the day and led to a lot of shipwrecks.
Stop 6: China Rock
China Rock was once home to a small Chinese fishing village, which is where the name originates. While the fishing village from the 1800s is no longer there, this stop does offer beautiful scenery with the rocky coastline views.
Stop 7: Bird Rock Vista Point
Bird Rock Vista Point is known for the giant rock just off the shore that is often home to several birds. While the rock is close to shore, you may need to squint to see the birds. We mainly visited this stop for the scenery, which is quite similar to Point Joe but we feel it is still worth visit.
Stop 8: Seal Rock
Next up is Seal Rock, which is one of the smellier stops along the drive. There’s a rock just off the shore here that is often frequented by seals. We didn’t see any seals when we were here, but did wander around to explore the tide pools. There’s also a gingerbread house across the road which you can walk to and explore.
Stop 9: Fanshell Beach Overlook
Fanshell Beach Overlook is one of the few stops that provides a beach to walk along. This beach is beautiful and we enjoyed walking along it and exploring the rocky areas. The water at the shoreline is also relatively calm and would be good spot to dip your toes in!
Stop 10: Cypress Point Lookout
Cypress Point Lookout is just as the name describes, a lookout point. The point is high in a cliff, so there’s a chain link fence here to protect visitors. We were headed into Big Sur the next day where these views are everywhere and unobstructed so we opted to skip this stop. However, if you’re not continuing onto Big Sur this could be worth your time!
Note — this stop is closed April 1 to June 1 as seals have their pups here and need the quiet.
Stop 11: Crocker Grove
Crocker Grove is home to the oldest Cypress trees, some have been growing here for 300 years. Here at Pebble Beach, along with Point Lobos are the only two places where Cypress trees are found naturally occurring.
Stop 12: The Lone Cypress
Next up is the The Lone Cypress, which is one of the most iconic stops along 17 Mile drive. Here you will see a single Cypress tree growing on top of a rocky outcropping. This lone cypress has been battling the elements for over 250 years, which is quite the feat. This is also the tree that the Pebble Beach logo is designed after.
Stop 13: Ghost Trees of Pescadero Point
In sharp contrast to the previous lone Cypress tree are the ghost tress at Pescadero Point. These cypress trees have died and lost all their leaves, leaving only their sun-bleached trunks and an eerie feel to the stop.
Stop 14: Pebble Beach Visitor Center
These next two places are for all the golf fans who visit. The Pebble Beach Visitor Center brings you to the main guest parking lot, which is free. The visitor center provides detailed history of the Pebble Beach golf course and houses a small gift shop. If you’re looking for a souvenir, we recommend heading across the street (towards the ocean) and visiting one of those gift stores as the options are a lot better.
Stop 15: Pebble Beach Golf Links
After a visit to the gift store, keep walking to hole 18 of the Pebble Beach course. Along with many others, this hole is along the coastline and they allow visitors to walk along it, which is amazing for all the golf fans. For everyone who is not up on their golf knowledge, Pebble Beach is one the highest ranked courses in the US and hosted its sixth US open in 2019.
Stop 16: Pebble Beach Equestrian Center
At the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center you can take a guided tour of the 17 Mile drive on horseback. This tour is put on by the Equestrian Center, which originally opened in 1924 for the Olympics.
Stop 17: Ford Meadow
The last stop of the 17 Mile drive is Ford Meadow. This meadow is named after Robert F. Ford, who was a generous donor to the Del Monte Conservancy, and he said he knew he was home when he passed here. This is the newest stop along the drive and one we opted to not stop.
All in all, the 17-mile drive serves to highlight all that Pebble Beach and this area are known for. We highly recommend heading into Carmel-by-the-Sea after the drive to enjoy their quaint downtown and grab a meal. We also highly recommend heading to Carmel Beach for sunset. Carmel Beach allows you to bring alcohol onto the beach until 10pm, so bring a glass of wine and unwind. Furthermore, this beach sits underneath one of the Pebble Beach Golf Course holes and allows you to walk along the beach underneath it.
If your heading into Big Sur after your day in Carmel-by-the-Sea, check out our must see stops.