17 Mile Drive is one of the most scenic drives in the world with beautiful beaches, famous cypres trees, rocky outcrops and luxury mansion. Located on the Highway 1 Coastal Route between Carmel by the Sea and Monterey, this drive takes you through one of the most exclusive communities in the nation, Pebble Beach, California.
Many people pay $11.25 to enter the famous route in Pebble Beach by car, but if you ride a bicycle or walk along the 17-mile stretch, it’s free!
Motorcycles are not allowed on 17 Mile Drive and we didn’t want to be stuck in a car, so we decided to cycle 17 Mile Drive. But instead of exerting too much energy, we did it in style on an e-bike. The beauty of e-biking is you can explore the beautiful road on two wheels with the comfort and speed of a motorcycle free of charge!
17 Mile Drive from Monterey – Pacific Grove to Carmel
Most people drive 17 mile Drive by renting a car or taking a road trip. You can check car rental comparisons at RentalCars.com.
17 Mile Drive Cost
The cost is 11.25 for cars.
Walking and cycling is free.
Motorcycles are not allowed on 17 mile drive.
If you eat at one of the 17-mile drive restaurants, you will get your gate fee reimbursed.
To Drive or Cycle 17 Mile Drive
17 Mile Drive is located in the community of Pacific Grove, It is just a five-minute drive from Monterey, so it is very easy to get to if you are staying in town. We met our guide at Big Sur Adventures on Cannery Row where we geared up with helmets, water, and state-of-the-art e-bikes.
No matter which way you choose to see 17 Mile Drive, you are going to love the scenery. However, traffic can be heavy and there is a lineup to get into the drive at Pacific Grove Gate.
We found that by cycling, we had a lot of freedom and zipped past stopped cars in traffic. Plus, with e-bikes, we didn’t work very hard because they are electric bikes. We had the fun of using pedal power but had the extra boost of speed to go uphill and ride faster with ease. We covered a lot of ground in our afternoon tour.
These E-bikes are fast. We averaged 20 miles (32km) an hour without having to do any hard work. If you want to zip around from place to place, the gears and throttle make it easy to hit top speeds, even going uphill. We barely broke a sweat.
Things to See on 17 Mile Drive
There are so many things to see and do on 17 Mile Drive, but Ocean View Boulevard and Sunset Drive have a lot to see as well, so we suggest making an entire day trip to explore this scenic coastal drive.
Here’s a breakdown of the points of interest on 17 Mile Drive and Ocean View Boulevard to Carmel by the Sea.
1. Lovers Point – Ocean Blvd
Lovers Point is a picturesque beach with photogenic rocky outcrops. It’s a popular spot for locals to hang out and have picnics, play beach volleyball, or catch a wave.
Before entering 17 Mile Drive, we stopped at a couple of scenic viewpoints along Ocean Boulevard. We started just outside Monterey near the Monterey Bay Aquarium and to the Gate to Pebble Beach. Lover’s Point was a beautiful stop to marvel at the beauty of the coast. There seemed to be one pull-off after another for cars to park and for people to get out and enjoy the views.
2. Pacific Grove Marine Gardens Conservation Area
At the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens Conservation Area, a group of sea otters caught our eye. At least a dozen of them were playing in the surf.
While exploring Monterey and Carmel by the Sea, we learned that by the 1920s sea otters were believed to be extinct due to overhunting. But 50 or so survived along the coast of Big Sur. Some people say they lived in the famous Bixby Bridge area.
Today, sea otters are thriving in the area thanks to the efforts of the Monterey Bay Aquariums Sea Otter program. We watched at least a dozen of them swim in play in the surf and it was heartening to hear that they have returned.
But they still face a serious threat from oil spills and food availability. After several minutes of watching the cute little guys, we hopped on our e-bikes, put our gears on high, and zipped to the next stop.
Make sure to check out these other beautiful spots for photography along Big Sur. These are highlights you don’t want to miss!
3. John Denver Memorial
It’s fascinating to hear of the movie stars and celebrities that frequented the areas of Carmel By the Sea, Monterey, Big Sur, and Pacific Grove, California.
Clint Eastwood was the mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea in the 1980s and nearly everyone we talked to had some sort of celebrity story to tell of their establishment or community.
We e learned that singer John Denver lived in the community for a year before his death. His plane crashed in the waters just off the coast. In 2007 a memorial was dedicated to the shores to celebrate his life.
4. Point Pinos Lighthouse
As we meandered past million-dollar houses our guide Joaquin pointed out the Point Pinos Lighthouse, the oldest still-operating lighthouse on the West Coast. It is still in use today to help navigate ships and they offer daily tours. You may also like: Where to Camp in Big Sur
5. Links at Spanish Bay
The Links Golf course at Spanish Bay is possibly one of the most beautiful settings for golf in the US. It was designed to protect and restore the native dunes along the coast to allow the plant to regrow at Spanish Bay.
Because of the nursery built on-site, more than 100,000 native species are replanted each year creating a beautiful wild coast along Spanish Bay.
The Links at Spanish Bay was the first Scottish Style golf course in America opened in 1987 and was designed by five-time British Open champion Tom Watson. He noted that “Spanish Bay looked so much like Scotland, you could almost hear the bagpipe piping.” Ever since The Links at Spanish Bay has had pipers play at sunset while the last golfers finish up on the course.
6. Spanish Bay
Spanish Bay Beach is yet another scenic stop along a long stretch of beach. In the late 1700s, the Spanish camped here while searching for Monterey Bay. Confusion and sickness set in and 6 months later they returned having never found Monterey Bay. Little did they know, how close they were.
It wasn’t until a year later with another discovery party that they actually discovered Monterey Bay which was hidden in plain sight. Spanish Bay was named for the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolà who camped here in 1769 never finding what he was looking for.
You can also stay here at the Inn at Spanish Bay. It overlooks The Links at Spanish Bay and is close to the Bird Rock Vista overlook.
7. Pacific Grove Gate
We entered the Gates of Pebble Beach at Pacific Grove Gate without incident. We whizzed past cars lined up to pay their entrance fee. Being on a bicycle, we had the freedom to explore the paid portion of 17 Mile Drive on our own.
Having our bikes, we were driving faster than most cars stuck in traffic which allowed us to see all the top sites with ease. You can pick up a map of 17 Mile Drive at the Visitor’s Center, to follow the 21 points of interest.
Sure you can spend the day checking everything out, but if you are short on time, there are a few must see stops. These were our favorites.
8. China Rock
China Rock is another beautiful viewpoint along the 17 Mile Drive. This was a Chinese community in the 1800s where they built small lean-to homes against the rocks.
9. Bird Rock
Our next stop was another beautiful lookout at Bird Rock. Joaquin told us that it used to be several inches higher but they cleared away all the bird poop.
Once they cleared the layer of dung away, the sea lions took over for a bit but now that the layer of white bird droppings has taken over again, it’s gone back to the birds offering great sightings for bird watchers.
10. Seal Rock
Seal Rock is a good picnic area and is a great spot to get out, stretch your legs and go for a walk. It was named for the harbor seals and sea lions that frequent the area.
11. The Lone Cypress
We were most looking forward to Cypress Point Lookout as it’s the photo that we’ve seen all over the Internet of 17 Mile Drive. But it ended up being a bit disappointing to us. It seems that most photographers have done their clever framing and positioning to make it seem more exciting than it is.
If you want to capture that iconic shot that is on most websites, walk over the fence and down onto a ledge that frames the tree by itself.
Even though we were disappointed, the Lone Cypress is still a must-stop along the 17 Mile Drive. It is the symbol of Pebble Beach, California, and the 250-year-old tree now has steel cables holding it up. If you manage to do the 17 Mile Drive in the near future, you must stop here for a look because you never know how much longer the Lone Cypress will last.
12. Ghost Tree
Just a little farther along the road was the Ghost Tree and that was a more impressive view for us. The sunset happens directly behind the Ghost Tree (in March anyway) and it makes for a beautiful scene.
It’s a stark contrast to the Lone Cypress that is still living. This dead cypress tree with naked branches gives an ominous view of the sea. Legend has it the Lady in Lace can be seen at the Ghost Tree on foggy nights.
There are 21 points of interest along the 17 Mile Drive route map, but none of them mention the $20-$40 million dollar mansions that line the shore. Dave and I couldn’t believe the number of multimillion-dollar homes and wondered, “who lives here?” How do so many people have such huge wealth?
The 17 mile drive houses are truly built for the rich and famous and it is fun to imagine who is hiding behind the high manicured hedges. We could have stopped for a peek at each property but that would have taken the entire day!
14. Pescadero Point
Before cycling along the 17 Mile Drive, we spent a day at Carmel By the Sea surfing with the Carmel Surf Company off its lovely long sandy beach. While there, our instructor pointed out Pebble Beach and we didn’t realize just how close the 17 Mile Drive was to where we started.
Stopping at Pescadero Point gave us lovely views of Carmel Bay and Stillwater cove. It was our last scenic view before cutting back into the Pebble Beach community and heading home to our stay at Carmel by the Sea.
15. Pebble Beach Visitor Center
The Pebble Beach Visitor Center traces the history of 17 Mile Drive from its beginnings as a carriage route in 1881. There are 20 exhibits with interactive maps, an outdoor patio, and food and drinks. Hours: 8 am to 7 pm.
16. Pebble Beach Golf Links
There are several world-class golf courses at Pebble Beach and The Pebble Beach Golf Links at Spanish Bay was voted one of the Best Public Golf Courses in the nation by Golf Digest. The 2019 US Open was held at the Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Other Golf Courses are:
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Del Monte Golf Course
Pebble Beach Golf Academy
Peter Hay Par-3 Golf Course – If you don’t want to golf a full 18 holes while visiting Pebble Beach, hit up the only Par 3 course in the area and be sure to see the 100th U.S. Open Monument that was put up during the 2000 U.S. to honor the win in 2000 (by Tiger Woods) and the other 99 winners of the 20th century.
17. The Lodge at Pebble Beach
Lodge at Pebble Beach – The Lodge at Pebble Beach dates back to 1919 and is a great place to stop on your trip around the drive. If you have the budget, it’s also a great place to stay in Pebble Beach. It’s within walking distance of some other 17 mile drive attractions including Point Joe and Fanshell Overlook.
This renovated to 5-star luxury, the lodge is famous for overlooking the 18th hole of the impeccable golf course located on the sea.
18. Mission Ranch
We even made the detour to visit Clint Eastwood’s famous ranch. The Mission Ranch dates back to the 1800s and was rescued by Eastwood while he was mayor of Carmel. It was set to be a condo development.
Today it is a hotel and restaurant set on 22 acres with sheep grazing in the meadow.
It’s worth a trip just to say you’ve been there because it seems that everyone you meet from Big Sur to Monterey asks if you went to Clint Eastwood’s ranch.
19. Pebble Beach Food and Wine Event
If you happen to be in the area in April, the annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine Event has been a tradition since 2008. More than 100 celebrity chefs partner with 250 wineries setting up tasting rooms for wine tastings and food pairings.
20. Carmel by the Sea
After a ride through the Lodge at Pebble Beach and the Pebble Beach Golf Links, we wove our way through the quiet back streets of Carmel by the Sea toward our lodging.
Our trip ended in the lovely town of Carmel by the Sea. We suggest spending the night in Carmel as there are plenty of things to see and do. From shopping in its boutiques to fine dining, this is a lovely romantic escape. We have an entire breakdown of things to do in Carmel at The Best Things to do in Carmel by the Sea
Where to Stay On 17 Mile Drive
We spent two days in Carmel before beginning our road trip down to Big Sur. There are plenty of places to stay in Carmel and you can also stay in Monterey which is very close to Pebble Beach.
We loved our stay at the Hideaway Hotel in Carmel and felt compelled to recommend it as a home base for your exploration of both 17 Mile Drive, and Carmel by the Sea, but there are other places to stay as well which we have mentioned for your reference.
The Hideaway is located just half a mile from the beach but is also centrally located downtown.
Inn at Spanish Bay – The Inn at Spanish Bay is located at the Links Golf Course. All rooms have a cozy fireplace and there are many dining options available at this 5-star resort overlooking Spanish Bay
Casa Palermo – Located at the Pebble Beach Golf and Links, this Mediterranean Style Accommodation has 24 elegant rooms with an award-winning spa, golf, and five-star amenities.
Where To Eat Along 17 Mile Drive
La Balena Cucina Toscana
With its central location in Carmel, we were just a short walk from our dinner reservations at La Balena Cucina Toscana Carmel. Juniper Street seems to be the happening street for restaurants and cafes in Carmel and both The Hideaway and Labalena are situated on it.
La Balena was our favourite meal of our entire trip through Big Sur and Lake Tahoe. The atmosphere was outstanding as we dined on their outdoor patio with heat lamps keeping us toasty warm. Run by Chef Emanuel Bartolini and his wife, the restaurant captures Tuscan cuisine beautifully.
As you know we’ve spent a lot of time in Tuscany and felt completely at home eating fresh burrata with olive oil, gnocchi with truffles, and savory spaghetti Neri with clams, muscles, prawns in a tomato chili brodo.
Carmel by the Sea is a wonderful base for both exploring Monterey and Big Sur and our time there was some of the most pleasant days of our trip!
Pebble Beach Food
We didn’t eat in Pebble Beach, but there are plenty of options to eat at 17-mile drive restaurants and you will get your gate fee reimbursed if you eat at one of the pebble beach company restaurants. Most people picnic at one of the many beaches and picnic areas.
The most popular picnic spots are seal rock and point joe. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. Or better yet, visit the pebble beach market for some picnic food.
17 Mile Drive – Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to drive 17 Mile Drive?
If walking or cycling 17 Mile drive is free. The Cost for cars is $11.25 at the gate, but if you spend $35 or more at pebble beach resorts restaurants excluding pebble beach market, you can get your gate fee back. Motorcycles are not allowed on 17 Mile Drive.
Where do you start 17 Mile Drive?
17 Mile Drive starts at Pacific Grove Gate at Pebble Beach, California.
If you are driving south from San Francisco along Highway 1 take the exit to CA 68 West towards Pebble Beach, you’ll then see signs for the Pacific Grove Pebble Beach Gate entrance.
We started from Big Sur Adventures in Monterey and ycled around Ocean View Boulevard to sunset drive before making our way to the Pebble Beach Gate where 17 mile drive officially begins.
You can also access 17 Mile Drive from the Country Club Gate, Carmel gate, S.F.B. Morse Gate, or Highway 1 Gate.
How long is 17 Mile drive to see?
You can zip through the 17 miles quickly, but we suggest three to four hours to see all the sights. Have lunch in Pebble beach and make a day of it. There are beaches, scenic views and plenty of places to catch sunset.
Is there accommodation on 17 mile drive.
There are three luxury Pebble Beach resorts in the 17 mile drive. The Inn at Spanish Bay, Casa Palmero, and the Lodge at Pebble Beach.
17 Mile Drive Hours of Operation
17 Mile drive is open from sunrise to sunset to visitors, but if you are staying in one of the Pebble Beach resorts, you have access to it 24/7. The gates to Pebble Beach are patrolled 24 hours a day.
For more information on 17 Mile Drive, Big Sur, Carmel, and Monterey, visit the See Monterey Website.
Ebiking tours of 17 Mile Drive, Big Sur, and 17 Mile Drive visit Big Sur Adventures. Tour packages start at $59 per person.
For accommodations in Carmel by the Sea check out The Hideaway for reservations and prices.
Read More About California
Our trip to California was in partnership with Visit California. For more information on California travel and itineraries, visit their website. As usual, all opinions are our own.