There are so many fun things to see and do in the Monterey, CA area; your biggest challenge will be figuring out how to fit everything into just one trip. Between the Monterey Aquarium, Cannery Row, and the various wineries in the area, there's never a shortage of things to do. One popular experience is to take a drive down Carmel's 17-mile drive. The scenery is spectacular, and it could very well be your most favorite part of your trip to California. However, the price just to drive on this stretch of road may have you wondering, "is the 17-Mile Drive worth it?" We break down everything you need to know below.
About 17-Mile Drive
17-Mile Drive winds through Carmel and Pebble Beach’s cities, passing through a residential neighborhood with sprawling mansions, dazzling ocean views, and a plethora of wildlife. Along the drive, you'll pass forests, ocean cliff drop-offs, beaches, eight golf courses, hotels, and other scenic lookouts. There is an entrance fee to drive along the route.
Things to see
There are many famous stopping points along the route. When you arrive at the entrance, you will get a guide map that will show you some of the best stops along the way.
The bay's history dates back to the mid-1700s when Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolà camped in the area with his crew when attempting to find Monterey Bay. There is a beach to stop and take pictures, along with picnic tables. It's one of the first stops many make along the route that can be busy at times.
A popular hang out for California wildlife, this rock stands out due to its white color—thanks to the deposits left by its residents. Bring binoculars, and you'll be able to see pelicans, sea lions, seals, otters, and cormorants. Note: Bird Rock has the only public restroom along 17-Mile Drive, so be sure to plan a stop here.
The Lone Cypress
This famous 250-year-old Cypress tree is perched on a rock overlooking the ocean and has become so renowned that the Pebble Beach Company incorporated the tree into its logo. While you can't access where the tree sits directly, there are still plenty of places to take great pictures of this famous tree from the shoreline.
Every car must pay an entrance fee to enter 17-Mile Drive. Bicyclists can join for free if they go through the Pacific Grove entrance, but motorcycles aren't allowed. There is a rumor that you may have your entrance fee deducted from your bill if you eat at one of the restaurants owned by the Pebble Beach Company. There are several entrance points to get to 17-Mile Drive, but the best way if traveling from Monterey is from Highway 1 at Highway 68.
It's best to visit 17-Mile Drive in the fall and spring in the afternoon when you will have the best chance of clear skies and no rain. Be sure to bring layers and dress for the weather, as it can be much colder on the drive than it is inland. The drive takes about three hours, making it an excellent afternoon activity.
If you're wondering, "is 17-Mile Drive worth it?" there are less expensive alternatives. Start at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and travel along Ocean View Boulevard and Sunset Drive to CA Highway 68, where you’ll drive along the ocean past Asilomar State Beach.
Stay in Monterey
Find out for yourself if 17-Mile Drive is worth a visit when you book a stay at the Ramada Monterey, CA. Learn more about things to do in the area on our blog, then book your room online today!