Have you been to California’s 17 Mile Drive?

 17 Mile Drive

Uncrowded sandy beaches, sea life and rocky coastlines? It’s the dreamy California scenery we all want to experience. Did you know Big Sur is not the only must see stretch of coastline south of San Francisco? 17 Mile Drive, while perhaps  lacking the mythology of Big Sur, was an essential part of our California Road Trip itinerary. Have you ever been? If not- read on and I’ll show you why you should go!

17 Mile Drive in California Monterey Carmel White Sandy Beach

Beach on 17 Mile Drive, Carmel
trees 17 Mile Drive in California Monterey Carmel
After staying the night in Monterey (where we tried some great craft beer at the Alvarado Street Brewery- check it out if you’re in the area!), we were ready for our next patch of scenic California coast. Due to our schedule (Tamsin and Guido needed to pick up a camper van in San Francisco for Burning Man, and Justin and I wanted a day in SF before doing the return drive back to Newport Beach) we opted to drive this beautiful stretch of coastal road in the car. Guido, who had visited before (darn those Dutch and their 150 days of vacation a year) reliably informed us that cycling is also a great option. It’s free to take your bike on the road or $10 with a car.

Cypress Tree 17 Mile Drive

17 Mile Drive California

On entry to the road we were provided with a map listing all the main stops, but you can, of course, just pull over where ever you like. Our first stop was at one of the beaches. I honestly could not believe how white the sand was. This is the kind of white sand you see in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the water is not quite as warm as the Caribbean (in other words- it’s freezing). Other points of interest included some seriously stinky sea lions, the lonely cypress tree (so lonely!) and just a whole lot of seriously gorgeous coast.

17 Mile Drive in California Monterey

Lonely Cypress Tree 17 Mile Drive California

17 Mile Drive California

After a couple of hours exploring, it was time for us to head up to San Francisco on yet another beautiful coastal drive. We continued on Highway 1 through Santa Cruz (Justin and I stopped for lunch at Gratitude cafe on the way back. I can’t wait for them to open their Newport Beach location soon!), stopping to admire Pigeon Point Lighthouse. We didn’t stay there but I’ve heard, from several sources, the hostel is well worth it!

Driving to San Francisco

Driving to San Francisco

Pigeon Point Lighthouse California

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Monterey To San Francisco Drive

I’m so glad we did the 17 mile drive before continuing up the coast. If you have more time it would make for a great day of cycling, but driving in the car and stopping as we pleased was also fantastic. The scenery was beautiful and the road itself, lined with trees and whimsical (but expensive!) houses, was lovely. Worth the $10, for sure!

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17 Mile Drive- California road trip Monterey/Carmel

California Pigeon Point Lighthouse- Road trip to San Francisco











What do you think- would the 17 Mile Drive make it onto your road trip itinerary?

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16 thoughts on “Have you been to California’s 17 Mile Drive?

  1. Some of my happiest times were spent in Monterey and driving Highway 1! You brought back a lot of special memories!
    Lovely photos and commentary as usual! Pamela

  2. My god, the colour of those skies though. I totally understand why Californians are always so happy and friendly – If I was around that kind of weather and those kind of beaches 24/7, I’d be on top of the world.

  3. Lovely write up, and wonderful photos! We did the Big SUR PCH drive, and then we took it further leaving San Francisco behind and driving up to Fort Ross on highway 1. It was fantastic — more rugged, breathtaking and a lot less crowded than Big Sur. I love that the lesser known spots in California would be the number one highlight anywhere else!

  4. This looks amazing! So incredibly beautiful.
    Woah… I just looked up Café Gratitude and it looks absolutely delicious! I’m heading up to LA this weekend and I’ve been trying to decide where I want to eat! I guess I’ll be stopping by the LA or Venice location! Thanks for the tip! 😉

  5. I live in between in San jose – San Francisco and Monterey! If you are ever looking for great places to go let me know 🙂 Beautiful pictures from your trip, I love 17 Mile Drive!!

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