The Best 17-Mile Drive Stops (Monterey to Carmel)
Want to explore the 17-mile drive near Monterey Bay California and Carmel-by-the-Sea? Awesome! It is a beautiful scenic drive! The 17-mile drive stops are well worth your time.
After recently visiting, I have created a 17-mile drive itinerary that will help you know which 17-mile drive stops are worth it.
In this post, we are going to focus on the 17-mile drive stops, starting with how to gain access to the 17-mile drive entrances, we will answer as many questions as you might have. This will include the 17-mile drive cost and all the fun ways to experience this beautiful area. We will also include some history about some of the stops.
There are some fabulous 17-mile drive attractions that might entice you to spend more time in the area. We will list those as well.
We are going to begin this 17-mile drive tour at from the Pacific Grove Gate. This is one of the best places to start as you will have easy access to the best 17-mile drive stops.
Let’s learn all about this beautiful Northern California scenic drive and check out the best 17-mile drive stops!
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17- Mile Drive Tour
We decided to take a Monterey to Carmel 17-mile drive tour. This worked out perfectly since we were coming from San Francisco.
Before we jump into all the cool 17-mile drive stops. I wanted to answer a few questions you might have and give you some 17-mile drive tips.
I love history! One thing I learned that I thought was so fascinating was that the Pebble Beach 17-mile drive has been around since horse and carriage days!! The 17-mile drive has been around since 1881. I thought that was so cool!
It has been and still is today one of the most beautiful areas to see the Pacific Coast.
How Much Does the 17-Mile Drive Cost?
There is a toll of $11.25 to enter at all four of the 17-mile drive entrances. You do not have to have cash! They take all major credit cards.
What are the 17-Mile Drive Hours?
The gates are open to the public from sunrise to sunset.
How Long Does the 17- Mile Drive California Take?
I would plan to spend half of your day exploring all of the 17-mile drive stops. (at least 3 hours) If you are planning on eating, shopping, or golfing you will want to plan to stay a few days in the area.
How Many 17-Miles Stops are There?
There are 17 official stops. We actually went to every single one to make sure that we created the best 17-mile drive itinerary but some are just not worth trekking to. (more on that later)
Is There a 17-Mile Drive Guided Tour?
Yes, we will talk about specific tours later. You can also enjoy a self-guided audio tour.
Is Biking the 17-Mile Drive an Option?
Yes, biking the 17-mile drive is one of the best ways to see sections of this scenic area. There are 17-Mile drive bike rentals nearby.
Can you Stay the Night Near the 17-mile drive?
Yes, there are a few nice resorts located beyond the 17-mile drive gates. We will talk about these options later.
17-mile Drive Entrances (Gates)
There are 4 official 17-mile drive entrances with gates that will give you access to the 17-mile drive.
- The Pacific Grove Gate
- SFB Morse Gate
- HWY 1 Gate
- Carmel Gate
There is a country club gate but as a tourist, you will not need to worry about it.
Which 17-Mile Drive Entrances are Best?
The Pacific Grove Gate is great if you are coming from the North. The Carmel Gate is perfect if you are coming from the Big Sur or Carmel-by-the-Sea.
The Hwy1 Gate is nice because you can easily exit from this gate and have direct access to the highway.
The SFB Morse gate is not a great option for tourists. You will be driving through residential areas and could get lost.
If you need 17-mile drive directions you can easily type “17-mile drive” into your GPS. It should pull up.
17-Mile Drive Stop 3 - Spanish Bay Beach - Monterey to Carmel
If you are coming from Monterey to Carmel your first stop will be stop number 3 on the 17-mile drive map that you will receive at the 17-mile drive entrance. (Stops 1 and 2 are really out of the way.)
Spanish Bay Beach is gorgeous. This is a great place to have a picnic. There are lots of picnic tables.
This was our first stop. We had packed a lunch and enjoyed hanging out. It really is a traditional beach with a nice boardwalk. The views are incredible!
The Spanish explorers camped here for some time in 1769. They were looking for Monterey Bay. It took them another year to find it.
The Inn at Spanish Bay
There are accommodations located near stop 3. The Inn at Spanish Bay has direct access (via the boardwalk) to the beach and also has a golf course on site.
17-Mile Drive Stop 4 - The Restless Sea
The restless sea is the next stop on the 17-mile drive. I love seeing waves crash onto rocks. This is one of the most turbulent coastlines in Pebble Beach. There are submerged rocks under the waves that constantly cause the waves to crash into one another.
The beauty of a scenic drive is just getting out and enjoying nature. I loved walking around and watching the ocean. This is a 17-mile drive stop that I would pull over for.
You probably do not need to spend more than 10-15 minutes walking around.
17-Mile Drive Stop 5 - Point Joe
The Point Joe stop on the 17-mile drive is similar to the restless sea. Again I loved jumping out of the car and watching the ocean crash into the rocks.
In the early 1900, a man named Joe lived on the point and sold trinkets to tourists. The Point may be named for him.
Many early explorers thought this was the entry to Monterey Bay, so there were many shipwrecks in the area.
17-Mile Drive Stop 6 - China Rock
China Rock is an area where you can climb on a rock and look out and view the ocean and beautiful coastline. China Rock is a stop you can bypass if you want. The views are similar to other 17-mile drive stops.
In the 1800s China rock was the site of a small Chinese fishing village. There aren’t many if any remains from that time period.
17-Mile Drive Stop 7 - Bird Rock
The next few 17-mile drive stops are worth stopping at starting with stop 7 Bird Rock. There are lots of species of birds, seals, and sea lions.
When I jumped out of the car I was expecting to see a bunch of cool birds. No, this entire rock is covered with seals and sea lions. If you have binoculars this would be a good place to pull them out! You can see them pretty well without them but it is even better if you do have them.
This is a seventeen-mile drive stop that is a must!
17-Mile Drive Stop 8 - Seal Rock
With a name like Seal Rock, I was expecting to see even more seals than on Bird Rock. There weren’t as many 🙂
This area is one of the best 17-mile drive stops. You should get out and walk around. There are bathrooms and areas for picnics. There are also built in binoculars at a few locations. You can look out and get a better view of the seals.
You can also take a little hike down to a little beach area. Let me warn you when we went it smelled awful! The father you walked down the worse the smell!
17-Mile Drive Stop 9 - Fanshell Beach Overlook
Fanshell Beach is one of the top pupping areas for harbor seals. We went in October so there wasn’t much action. The best time to visit this 17-mile drive stop is late December through February. This is mating season.
It is a beautiful area to check out. We didn’t stay too long because the pups were not there.
17-Mile Drive Stop 10 - Cypress Point Lookout
Cypress Point lookout is a great area to enjoy the sunset. It faces southwest and offers incredible views at dusk.
17-Mile Drive Tips
This area is not always open. April 1 to June 1 is pupping season. Each Spring the seals will come here to deliver their young.
There is a parking lot available in this area. For some reason when we went this area was blocked off. It is really beautiful but be aware you may or may not be able to access it.
17-Mile Drive Stop 11 - Crocker Grove
Crocker Grove is home to some of the oldest Cypress trees in existence. Pebble Beach contains one of two Monterey Cypress forests in the World. The other one is at Carmel Bay at Point Lobos State Park.
The forest was named after Charles Crocker. He built the Hotel del Monte in Monterrey and built the original 17-mile scenic drive.
17-Mile Drive Stop 12 - The Lone Cypress
The lone cypress is more than 250 years old! It is an iconic symbol for Pebble Beach. In fact, it is the famous tree at Pebble Beach everyone talks about. You have to get a picture of this famous tree!
Mid-Way Point of the 17-Mile Drive Monterey to Carmel
The lone cypress is the mid-way point of the 17-mile drive. This really is one of the best 17-mile drive stops. It is so exciting to jump out and see this beautiful iconic cypress tree. You can not get too close to it. You will have a view from the road.
17-Mile Drive Stop 13 - Ghost Trees at Pescadero Point
I really enjoyed the next stop on the 17-mile drive. The ghost tree at Pescadero Point is worth a stop.
This is another area I would include on your 17-mile drive itinerary. You can get some great photos of the tree overlooking the ocean. This is one of the 17-mile drive attractions you do not want to miss.
This area was a premier big wave surf spot. Swells can reach over 50 ft. There was a death in 2007 and a battle with the NOAA that led to this area being a nature site more than a surfing site.
When we went the ocean was calm. I would have loved to see some big waves crashing in.
17-Mile Drive Stop 14 - Pebble Beach Visitor Center
Pebble Beach is known as the golf capital of the world. Inside the Pebble Beach Visitor Center, you can check out the golf champions and the history of Pebble Beach.
There is also a little souvenir store you can check out. This is also a great place for a bathroom break. The 17-mile drive Pebble Beach stop is a must!
17-Mile Drive Directions for Visitor Center
There is a large parking lot you will want to park at. When you exit the car head to the visitor center. After you are through you can walk to the next 17-mile drive stop Pebble Beach Golf Links.
17-Mile Drive Stop 15 - Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach Golf Course has hosted countless premier golf tournaments. Pebble Beach has the PGA Championship and the US Open many times.
Best Public Golf Course in America
This is the #1 public course in America. It is pretty cool to walk around and see where history has been made. I thought it was fun to people watch too. There were many golfers walking around enjoying the course.
17-Mile Drive Stop 16 - Pebble Beach Equestrian Center
The Pebble Beach Equestrian Center is a fun alternative to golf. You can take one of the guided horseback tours that are offered daily.
We wanted to check it out as it is one of the 17-mile drive stops but if you do not plan ahead and have a scheduled ride there really isn’t much to see.
In my opinion, you could exclude this stop.
17-Mile Drive Stops - 1,2, and 17
All three of these areas are lookout points. Shepherds Knoll gives you a view of Monterey Bay. Huckleberry Hill gives a view of Santa Cruz and Ford’s Meadow is really just a meadow.
Don’t feel like you have to stop. These sites go through residential areas and will add a lot of time to your trip. I wanted to make sure we went to every stop but these were not worth it!
17-Mile Drive Monterey to Carmel Tours
The best 17-mile drive tour is a self-guided itinerary. You will receive a brochure when you enter the 17-mile drive entrances. You can navigate the area by looking at the 17-mile drive map. You can also purchase the Monterey to Carmel self-guided audio tour.
Biking 17-Mile Drive
Another great way to tour the 17- mile drive is by bike. There are many bike rentals and bike tours available in the area. It is best if you book ahead of time.
Tours from San Francisco
There are also a few options for day tours from San Francisco. You can book a Full Day tour . We actually flew into San Francisco at night and rented a car instead of booking a tour. If you do not want to rent a car this is a great option.
Places to Stay at Pebble Beach
There are three premier accommodations in Pebble Beach.
- The Lodge at Pebble Beach
- The Inn at Spanish Bay
- Casa Palmero at Pebble Beach
If you want prestige and love golf these are the best options. You can make golf reservations up to 18 months in advance. This is a trip you will need to plan out for sure if you want to stay on the property! There are lots of benefits to staying on-site. (They all come with a price tag.)
If you just want to explore the 17-mile drive and golfing isn’t on your list there are some great options in Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea and in Pebble Beach. There are some national brands but most are local.
Are you Ready for a 17-Mile Drive Tour?
Hopefully, this will help you plan out all your 17-mile drive stops! It really is a beautiful California scenic drive that is worth it!
I loved exploring the area! I hoped you learned a little history and some fun facts about each 17-mile drive stop.
Things to do Nearby
Carmel-by-the-Sea is the perfect place to end your day. There are fun stores and places to eat!
If you want to drive a little more head down towards the Big Sur. It is worth it! We also ventured north to Monterrey and checked out the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. You could easily spend a long weekend in this area and have plenty to do and see.
After we explored this area we headed up to see the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco!
Do you have any more questions? Join my Travel Community on Facebook. This is a great group that can help answer any travel questions you might have. I also try to add any deals that companies send me as well.
This is an epic guide to all the best stops as you explore the 17-mile drive near Monterey Bay California and Carmel-by-the-Sea. So many beautiful things to check out!
Thanks! It is a really fun trip!
What a great guide to 17 Mile Drive! We did this last summer, but I haven’t gotten around to writing about it yet. So beautiful! We stayed in Monterey for two nights in an Airbnb, and we loved the area. I kind of wish I could live in Monterey. I froze on the beach, though, even in June!
It is such a beautiful area!
The 17 mile drive is one I’ve always wanted to make. Such iconic scenery!
I love that you’ve broken down all the great stops! The 17 mile drive sounds like a such a fun adventure!
It is such a fun trip!
Thanks for another informative post. Lots of helpful info here! Some lovely photos in this post too!
Happy new year!
I love reading driving itineraries and this one is so detailed! All the different views and rocks look stunning
It really is so beautiful!
I love itineraries like this..planning on a summer 2024 visit and I am saving this post!
It is such a beautiful drive!
This is such a beautiful part of Cali!! I love the Pebble Beach section and would head there first! Thank you for the info, maps, and photos!!
It is a great area!
I need to go back to Carmel! It’s so beautiful!
It is so beautiful! I loved it!