The Monterey Bay area is known to be home to one of the most beautiful and scenic drives in California if not the US. Known as the 17 Mile Drive, this scenic route of highway begins on the south end of Pacific Grove and winds its way along the coast giving drivers breathtaking views of the coast, ocean and access to two of most prestigious golf courses in the country, Spy Glass and Pebble Beach. In addition to the coast views, the natural beauty of this area of Monterey is spot lighted as the highway dips inland in many areas giving drivers unlimited access to hundreds of types of trees, local wildlife and nature. In fact it is the Pebble Beach Resorts that owns and operates both courses and their respective resorts as well as the actual 17 Mile Drive that runs through them.
The 17 Mile drive begins its journey in Pacific Grove off of Lighthouse Blvd. There is a toll of $9.50 per car to access to road and includes a map that details all the main sights and attractions along the 17 mile journey. The route on the 17 Mile Drive is designated at all times by a dotted red center line. Those entering the 17 Mile Drive from the northern gate (Pacific Grove) that are traveling from Monterey will want to travel south to have immediate access to the coast. The other entrance to the 17 Mile Drive is via the south gate at Carmel and those looking to see the coast will travel north. However for the best views and exposure to the drive, we recommend beginning the journey from the north gate at Pacific Grove.
All along the drive there are numerous inlets on the coast where visitors can park their cars, get out and take advantage of a photo opportunity. From these inlets visitors can usually hike down a set of stairs onto the beach or rocky cliffs below and enjoy the ocean up close and personal. With the large jagged rocks and powerful crash of the waves against the sights are incredible. They include wading pools with a variety of sea life to an occasional sea lion swimming past.
As the drive continues south it will enter to prestigious golf courses, the Spy Glass Links and Pebble Beach. From here visitors will often be surrounded on all sides by either the golf courses or the ocean on the right and a golf course on the left. The first golf resort visitors traveling this route will encounter is the Spanish Bay Inn/Spy Glass Gold Links. By making a right and following the signs off the drive visitors will be brought down a long drive surrounded by lush green foliage that terminates at the Spanish Bay Inn. There is an adjacent parking lot or visitors can valet park and walk in. From there a luxurious lobby awaits and there is ample time and space to get a glass of wine and enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean either out the back lobby windows or on the massive patio outside.
Traveling further south along the Seventeen Mile Drive away from the Spanish Bay Inn visitors will encounter on the right hand side the Lone Cypress. The Lone Cypress is a stand alone tree growing out of a cliff and hanging over the ocean below. The Lone Cypress is recognizable to many as the symbol for Monterey that is found on countless print and advertising materials that promote tourism to the Monterey Bay area. It is also one of (maybe the only) copyright tree in the world. Photos for personal use are okay, however the Pebble Beach Resorts owns the exclusive copyright for photos of the tree used anywhere else. Getting out of the car and checking out the tree is definitely worth the visit.
Further south of the Lone Cypress the Seventeen Mile Drive winds into the Pebble Beach Golf Course and Links. It is here that there is plenty of parking and visitors can hop out and enjoy a glass of wine at The Lodge at Pebble Beach while taking in the breath taking ocean views. The golf shop to the Pebble Beach Links is also accessible.