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17-Mile Drive

17-Mile Drive, Monterey Peninsula, California

California's 17-Mile Drive, said to be one of the world's most scenic, is an essential Central Coast experience. Looping around the Monterey Peninsula, the private toll road offers stellar views of Monterey Bay and passes attractions such as the Lone Cypress, Bird Rock, the Del Monte Forest, and the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.

A winding road that skirts through upscale neighborhoods, forested areas, and along the oceanfront, 17-Mile Drive is situated on private property and requires an entrance fee. With that in mind, skip the driving and focus on the views by visiting as part of a 17-Mile Drive tour from San Francisco that includes transportation. Your guide will handle navigation and fees, plus many tours also stop at Monterey's Cannery Row, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and more.

If you prefer to drive the route independently, don't miss the Cypress Point Lookout, where you can see harbor seals; Spanish Bay, where you can follow a paved coastal trail to Asilomar State Beach; and the iconic Lone Cypress.

  • Experiencing 17-Mile Drive is a must-do for all first-time visitors to this section of California's Central Coast.

  • 17-Mile Drive tickets are priced per vehicle. Your entrance fee includes a map of the area, with points of interest clearly marked.

  • The drive takes about 20 minutes, but allow yourself at least two hours if you want to stop at the lookouts and take in the scenery.

  • The Inn at Spanish Bay and the Lodge at Pebble Beach have the only services open to the public (gas station, restrooms, restaurants).

  • Hotel or restaurant reservations along the drive will get you out of the non-resident fee.

  • Bicycles travel free of charge; motorcycles are not allowed.

The 17-Mile Drive runs almost the length of the Monterey Peninsula coastal road, within the gated Pebble Beach community. Pay the entrance fee at any of the five entrances—most often, where Highway 1 meets Highway 68, or the Carmel tollbooth on San Antonio Avenue. The fee is waived if you eat or shop within the community.

Quite busy year-round, 17-Mile Drive is especially choked with visitors in the summer. Fall and spring are the best bets for clear skies; the summer fog is heavy in the morning and can sometimes linger all day, hampering views. The drive closes during major golf events; be sure to check online before departing.

There are multiple spots to stop and stretch your legs along the drive. Whether you want a quick jaunt down to the frigid Pacific Ocean waters, a picnic lunch spot, or some soft sand on which to nap, you’ll find it here. Spanish Bay and Pebble Beach are favorites for travelers and locals alike.

There’s never a bad time to visit 17-Mile Drive but to best enjoy your trip, start after any fog has burned off, usually no later than 1pm. For romantic views of the Pacific Ocean and cypress groves, start the 3–4-hour drive in the late afternoon to finish around sunset.

You can rush through the 17-Mile Drive in 30 minutes or less, but you need more time to take pictures or check out some marked stops. To enjoy this marvelous stretch of the California coast, give yourself 2–3 hours or more if you want to stop for lunch.

Yes. However, since the 17-Mile Drive is not a public park or parkway, tours are limited to private companies—these range from electric bike tours to self-guided audio tours and multi-day trips along the California Central Coast.

Yes. You can walk (and bike) the 17-Mile Drive, but the road shoulder isn't always the safest. From Asilomar State Beach, travelers can take the Coastal Trail Beach running alongside the famous drive for short stretches. It's often a patchwork of golf course paths and loosely connected trails off the road.

According to the Pebble Beach Visitor Center map, the 17-Mile Drive has 17 marked points of interest. These range from golf courses and cypress tree groves to scenic viewpoints and coastal sea rocks. Nearly all of these have parking for drivers who want to stop and take a look.

Yes, the 17-Mile Drive is worth visiting. It runs through one of the most scenic parts of California, with unmatched views of the Pacific Ocean. It's also easy to explore in half a day or less and connects two California gems: Monterey and Carmel.


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