A Monterey Bay Adventure
One of the most scenic drives in the world lives just beyond the backyard of the Bay Area. On the coast of Monterey Bay is home to Pebble Beach and the well-known 17-mile drive.
This beautiful 17-mile drive is filled with dramatic coastal cliffs, mystical forests, iconic white beaches, and beautiful golf courses. There is abundant wildlife along the drive and you may see anything from a deer or a stork, to harbor seals, sea otters, and owls.
Along the 17-mile drive, there are 17 points of interest to stop by and check out. All of these points have a parking area and numerous also have picnic benches and seating areas.
The Basics: What to Know
Founder of Pebble Beach Resorts, Samuel Morse once said “The forest is not a place to drive through in a hurry. It is a place to take your time and enjoy the magnificent views and the natural state of the forest.”
This is the philosophy the resort keeps in mind, featuring the most striking stops along the drive. The 17-mile drive highlights 17 points of interest that I’ll dive more into in the section.
There is a small admission fee of $10.50 per vehicle. If you are an overnight guest at The Lodge at Pebble Beach or you spend a minimum of $35 at Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants, your entrance fee will be reimbursed.
Unfortunately, motorcycles are prohibited here, so be sure to arrive in a car or four-wheeled drive.
17 Points of Interest
1. SHEPHERD’S KNOLL
The first stop on the 17-mile drive is Shepherd’s Knoll, a unique elevated view that looks down on the Monterey Bay.
Fun Fact: A typo on an earlier map (complete with illustrated sheep) turned this stop from Shepard’s Knoll to Shepherd’s Knoll. You won’t find any sheep here as this stop was actually named after railroad man Abraham D. Shepard.
2. HUCKLEBERRY HILL
This next stop gives you a beautiful, tree-top view of the huckleberry-filled hills with Santa Cruz visible in the distance.
Fun Fact: These hills have been set aside as permanently preserved forest.
3. SPANISH BAY BEACH
The next stop is a beautiful beach with views of the Pacific Ocean. It has a wooden walkway that takes you to the Inn at Spanish Bay, a short and convenient access point for anyone staying at the lodging. In 1769, Spanish Explorers camped out here while trying to find the Monterey Bay, which is where the beach gets its name.
4. THE RESTLESS SEA
The next point of interest is a bouncy section of the sea known as the Restless Sea. This area is one of the most turbulent sections of coastline in Pebble Beach as waves are constantly crashing into each other. This is likely due to submerged rocks which slow the water, causing waves to break early and resulting in the sea looking restless.
5. POINT JOE
Many early mariners mistook Point Joe as the entrance to Monterey Bay which has made it a site of many shipwrecks.
Fun Fact: A Chinese man named Joe lived alone in a driftwood home around this point in the early 1900s. No one knows if the point was named after Joe, or if he was named after the point!
6. CHINA ROCK
China Rock, once the site of a small Chinese fishing village, is now a spectacular viewpoint with scenic view of the coast.
Fun Fact: You can still see century-old cooking smoke caked into the blackened rocks from the settlement in the late 1800s.
7. BIRD ROCK
Bird Rock is huge rock formation in the middle of the water, buzzing with harbor seals, sea lions, and variety of bird species.
Fun Fact: Keep an eye out for migrating grey whales from November through March. You may just spot their spout blows or tail flukes!
8. SEAL ROCK
Seal Rock is a hidden beach at the mouth of Seal Rock Creek. This a beautiful place with a lot to explore. Check out the tide pools, take a walk along the shoreline, or hike on the boardwalk toward the colorful Gingerbread House.
9. FANSHELL BEACH OVERLOOK
Fanshell Beach is one of the primary pupping habitats for Harbor Seals on the Central Coast. Because of this, sections of the coastline are closed from April to June to protect the seals.
10. CYPRESS POINT LOOKOUT
Because of its southwest view, Cyprus Point Lookout is an excellent spot to catch sunsets with a spectacular ocean view.
Fun Fact: Sunset Point, the coastline just southeast of Cypress Point Lookout, is an an exclusive neighborhood filled with mansions from the Roaring Twenties! Makes me want to throw on a flapper dress and a feathered headband and go visit!
11. CROCKER GROVE
Crocker Grove is named after a railroad baron, Charles Crocker, who built both the luxurious Hotel Del Monte and the original 17-mile drive back in the 1880’s. Today, the grove is home the the largest and oldest Monterey Cypress trees in existence.
12. THE LONE CYPRESS
The world-famous Lone Cypress has stood its ground atop its rocky pedestal for over 250 years, and still going strong. This tree is so iconic, it has actually been encompassed into the Pebble Beach Resorts logo since its founding.
13. GHOST TREES AT PESCADERO POINT
The Ghost Trees at Pescadero Point is a unique stop. Beautiful and eerie, this stop is filled with spooky, sun-bleached Cypress trees and picturesque ocean views.
Fun Fact: This is a legendary Big Wave surf spot. In the right winter conditions, waves can swell up to 50 feet!
14. PEBBLE BEACH VISITOR CENTER
Did you know over 2 million visitors around the world come to see Pebble Beach each year? Pebble Beach opened up a Visitor Center very recently so guests can learn the rich history of Pebble Beach.
15. PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS
Nested along the 17-mile drive is an incredible and well-known golf course, the Pebble Beach Golf Links. Spend a day playing on this beautiful course or watch golfers tee off their bucket-list rounds while you pass by!
Fun Fact: Pebble Beach Gold Links has a championship pedigree. The golf course hosted six U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, two U.S. Women’s Amateurs, and a PGA Championship. It has even been selected to host both the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open and 2027 U.S. Open.
16. PEBBLE BEACH EQUESTRIAN CENTER
The Pebble Beach Equestrian Center offers a variety of guided trail rides that are available every day. What better way to take in the scenic views and sights of the 17-Mile Drive than a through a horseback ride?
Fun Fact: The Pebble Beach Equestrian Center hosted the U.S. team trials ahead of the 1960 Olympics!
17. FORD MEADOW
The last stop is a relatively new point of interest and named after Robert F. Ford, a generous donor to the Del Monte Conservancy. He said he felt at “home” when he passed by here, so the meadow was dedicated to his memory after he passed away.