AAA/Kim Birch
AAA/Kim Birch
AAA. Photo submitted by Nancy Jones/Nancy Jones
AAA/Kim Birch
AAA Editor Notes
17-Mile Drive can be entered through several gates off SRs 1 and 68; the Pacific Grove gate at Sunset Dr. and SR 68 and the Carmel gate on San Antonio Ave. are the n. and s. entrances, respectively. This winding road hugs the Monterey Peninsula coast as it traverses the private gated community of Pebble Beach. Grandly scenic, it has plenty of places to pull off, park and admire the panoramic ocean views up close. You can also walk down to the beach from some of the parking areas.

Point Joe, where early seafarers often ran aground due to the erroneous belief that it was the entrance to Monterey Bay, is a good spot to take in the beauty of the rocky shoreline. Another good photo op is Bird Rock; just offshore, it's a favored gathering place for sea gulls and shore birds and also is occasionally visited by harbor seals and California sea lions.

The route's most famous landmark is the Lone Cypress. This solitary Monterey cypress, estimated to be more than 250 years old, stands atop a rocky outcrop that juts into the ocean. Monterey cypresses once had a much wider range but now grow in the wild at only two sheltered seaside locations—here and within Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. A bit farther on is Pescadero Point, where there are thick green carpets of fleshy-leaved ice plants, rounded rocks and lovely views of deep blue water.

Golf courses along the route—all but one of them private—include The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill and the Pebble Beach Golf Links, where the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is played in early February. The par-3 14th hole of the Dunes Course at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club is a stunner. Golfers aim for a pin that is literally at the ocean's edge; overshoot the green and your ball will end up in the drink or irretrievably lost in the craggy shoreline rocks.

Bicycles are permitted during daylight hours when no major sporting event is scheduled; no motorcycles or motorbikes are allowed. Bicyclists must enter through the Pacific Grove gate on weekends, holidays and during events.

Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.

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