There are plenty of great things to do in Monterey, California, and driving 17-Mile Drive is one of them. This scenic drive through the communities of Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove is filled with spectacular ocean views matched by man-made landmarks that exude elegance.
17-Mile Drive: Why It’s Worth the Drive
The state has other attractions perfect for excursions and sightseeing, such as the rich Monterey Bay Aquarium, historic Cannery Row, pristine beach tidal pools, charming Carmel-by-the-Sea and the scenic Big Sur. The 17-Mile-Drive, however, takes the cake due to its iconic sites and allure. No road rage is possible along this stretch of Pacific paradise, only pure bliss.
Scenic stops along 17 miles of route: places worth stopping by
First and foremost, tourists should be reminded that 17-Mile Drive is located in the gated community of Pebbles Beach. When everything is settled, tourists should first stop at Shepherd’s Knoll. There are no sheep here, only scenic spots. There is an elevated vantage point in the area where travelers can take in the picturesque views of Monterey Bay. The scenery is stunning and a great way to start this interesting journey. The stop at Shepherd’s Knoll is quick, but the memory is lasting.
- Registration fee of $11.25 per vehicle
If tourists can’t get enough of the views from Shepherd’s Knoll, they’ll be satisfied at Huckleberry Hill. There are more breathtaking sights in this destination located 800 feet above sea level. The hike up the hill is easy, and at the top, hikers will be hugged by the Pacific breeze. Huckleberry Hill is a place of inspiration due to the relaxing mix of lush pine trees and pristine ocean. No wonder writers John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson visited this place.
Spanish Bay Beach
Travelers who want to explore the beach are in luck, thanks to Spanish Bay Beach in Pacific Grove. This sandy destination allows tourists to be closer to Pacific waters and enjoy the salty breeze. They may not know how to swim or surf, but a simple walk on the beach is enough to enjoy the beauty of the place. From the dunes to the shore, Spanish Bay Beach is a great place to spend a sunny day.
The waves of the Pacific impose their power on the steep rocks while the wind hugs the shore. This is what tourists will discover at Point Joe. The combination of rocky shores, crystal clear Pacific waters and blue skies make the area a natural studio for Instagram lovers. Tourists will also be amazed that some rocks bloom with flowers. They can also observe the greenery of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club golf course. All this beauty, thanks to Point Joe.
Wildlife lovers and birdwatchers will have a satisfying stay at Bird Rock Lookout. It was named so because harbor seals, pelicans, cormorants and other shorebirds frequent this rocky bay. Sea lions also visit this beach, an added delight for wildlife watchers. When tourists take a scenic drive from November to March, they might be lucky enough to spot migrating gray whales from the Bird Rock Lookout. This destination simply rocks.
Fanshell Beach Lookout is another great place to see harbor seals as they are one of their calving habitats on the Central Coast. When the seals aren’t around, tourists can stroll along the beach, jump from rock to rock, and get their toes wet. The beach is closed to tourists from April to June, but the lookout has them covered. During these months, travelers can keep busy watching belching seals and their playful pups.
Crocker Grove is one of the most stunning destinations on a trip along 17-Mile Drive. The place looks eerie because of the towering but majestic trees when surrounded by Monterey cypresses, some of which are the largest and oldest in the world. It’s good to hug the trees; perhaps they appreciate the presence of tourists because they are proud of their elegance, after all. Pebble Beach flaunts this grove, which is one of only two native Monterey cypress forests on the planet.
Pescadero Point is probably one of 17-mile Drive’s most famous landmarks, thanks to the Ghost Tree. If Crocker Grove is weird, then Pescadero is scary. The white Monterey cypresses with gnarled hands evoke witches or goblins. A famous ghost story at this location involves the “Lady in Lace” who is spotted during foggy nights. Although the place is folksy, it is undeniably a scenic spot, especially since the beach in the distance is a famous big wave surfing destination.
Beware of the big waves that are common along its shores.
Another Pebble Beach star is the Lone Cypress, which Atlas Obscura says is “the most photographed tree in the world.” It’s not a surprise at all because it looks symbolic, and seeing it first hand is impressive. It has already lost a limb but remains an iconic landmark along 17-Mile Drive. The tree braved the storms brought by the Pacific for more than 250 years. It’s called the Lone Cypress, but it’s never alone, thanks to its majesty that attracts tourists who want to see why it’s one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces.
Cypress Point Lookout
Another vantage point where tourists can enjoy the liberating feel of the Pacific is Cypress Point. It offers stunning views of the rocky coastline, ocean, and towering trees, all working together to provide a memorable California vacation. Its southwest location makes Cypress Point Lookout the perfect spot to watch the sun slowly set, streaking orange and yellow colors across the sky. This signals that the 17-Mile Drive trip will end soon, but in reality there are more sites to explore. There are a total of 17 stops, and the sunset will inspire tourists to travel further.