Top 20 Monterey attractions

17 mile drive

17 Mile Drive

Experience the stunning 17 mile drive near Monterey.

The 17 mile drive Monterey is inside a gated community, and requires an entrance fee of roughly $10.50 per car.  It starts at Pacific Grove Gate.

Prepare to be wowed by spectacular beaches, million dollar properties, luxury resorts, and three golf courses.  

Sections of the drive also wind through the stunning Del Monte Forest.

Where does the 17 mile drive start?

There are five entrance gates.  The two easiest to find are the Pacific Grove Gate (south of Pacific Grove, a short distance after the 17 mile drive intersects Sunset Drive), and the Highway 1 Gate (north of Carmel up Highway 1, take the 399a Exit, then follow the signs to the 17 mile drive).

10 BEST things to see along the 17 mile drive. 

Here's a detailed description of everything you'll see along the 17 mile drive. This coastal route travels from the Pacific Grove Gate, to Pebble Beach.

1. Historic Point Pinos Lighthouse

The Point Pinos Lighthouse opened in 1855, and is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast.  You can tour the lighthouse for free.

One of the most fascinating facts about this lighthouse, is that a female lighthouse keeper ran it for 21 years, from 1893 to 1914.  

Her name was Emily Fish, and she was known as the socialite lighthouse keeper, due to her love of entertaining.  Emily transformed the wild sand dunes around the lighthouse, to a manicured garden.

2. Breathtaking Asilomar State Beach

Asilomar State Beach is next.  Park along Sandy Drive for sweeping vistas of this white, sandy beach.  

The ocean off Asilomar State Park is a protected marine sanctuary.

There's a lovely 1-mile walk at the north end of Asilomar State Beach, with rocky outcrops and coves to explore.  

You can also venture inland, across the dunes, to see the historic YMCA conference center built in 1913 by famous architect Julia Morgan.  It's now the Asilomar Hotel.

3. Pristine, white sand Spanish Bay

Spanish Bay is directly south of Asilomar State Beach.  This pristine, white sand beach was first discovered in 1769, by Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola, who was searching for Monterey Bay.

Unfortunately these beaches have dangerous rips and currents, and are therefore not suitable for swimming or wading.

4. The turbulent Restless Sea

Continue south along the 17-mile drive, and look for the Restless Sea sign.

The ocean is especially turbulent at this headland, due to dangerous off-shore rocks.

These submerged rocks resulted in many shipwrecks, including the iron hulled St Paul in 1896, and the steam schooner Celia in 1906.  

You can learn more about these shipwrecks at displays at the Point Pinos Lighthouse.  Amazingly there were no fatalities in either shipwreck.

5. Scenic overlook at Point Joe

Point Joe is walkable from the Restless Sea overlook, just 250 feet west.

There are sweeping views from rocky Point Joe, back over Spanish Bay and Asilomar State Beach.

The signs explain that Joe was a Chinese drifter who lived here in a makeshift shack in the early 1900's. He survived by selling trinkets to tourists and tending to goats.

6. Historic landmark, China Rock

China Rock is a 0.3 mile drive south of Point Joe. Chinese Fisherman built lean-tos against these rocks in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the smoke damage from their cooking is still visible on the rocks.

7. Prolific marine life on Bird Rock

The offshore Bird Rock is 1.2 miles south of China Rock, and is full of noisy sea lions, harbor seals and shorebirds.  It's covered in white excrement from sea birds.

Explore the white sand beach, just north of Bird Rock.  

This is perhaps the most scenic beach along the 17-mile drive, and is a favorite with tourists, entranced by its white sands and turquoise waters.

You can see how closely the 17-mile drive hugs the coastline, making beach access easy.

8. Seal Rock, home to harbor seals.

Seal Rock is 0.3 miles south of Bird Rock, and has a sandy beach with a picnic area.  

It's less dramatic than Bird Rock, lying lower and flatter into the water.  The Seal Rock River creek flows into the ocean, making this an enchanting setting.

Bird Rock is visible in the distance, just north of Seal Rock Beach.

This vista captures both the white topped Bird Rock (on the left) and the smaller Seal Rock (on the right).

9. The iconic Lone Cypress Tree

Wind south around the peninsula for another 2.4 miles, to the dramatic sight of the iconic Lone Cypress Tree.

The Lone Cypress Tree is estimated at 250 years old.  Its possibly the most photographed tree in America, miraculously surviving atop a rocky headland. 

10. The famous Lodge at Pebble Beach

The final stop along the 17 mile drive, is the Lodge at Pebble Beach.

This is the entrance to the Lodge, which had its grand opening after WWI in 1919.

You don't have to be staying at The Lodge to take a look around.  There's plenty of shop and boutiques, some upscale restaurants, and a Visitor Center with some fascinating exhibits on the history of the Pebble Beach Resorts.  

The Visitor Center sells snacks, and has some tables outside on the patio.  

There's also a gourmet market near The Lodge, if you'd like some goodies for a picnic.

The Pebble Beach golf course has hosted the last six U.S. opens.  Step out onto the 18th fairway and take in the incredible coastal views. 

These are the sweeping views from the Coastal Overlook near The Lodge, overlooking Stillwater Cove.  A map at the Coastal Overlook shows the short trail out to Stillwater Cove.

Know before you go 

Entrance fees: $12.50 per car (as of May 2019).  Bicycles are free, but motorcycles are prohibited.  

Maps: Maps are available at the entrance gates.  There’s also a red marker on the road to highlight the 17 mile drive.

Restaurants along the 17 mile drive: Both the Links at Spanish Bay, and the the Lodge at Pebble Beach have upscale restaurants.  You can also purchase gourmet food-to-go at the Pebble Beach Market, just near the Lodge at Pebble Beach.

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