As someone who grew up in “baseball heaven” (Go Cards!), I feel like I have an eye for such things 😉 So I have no doubt I went to golf heaven and back, two weeks ago on my trip to the Monterey Peninsula.
Yes, I’ve been to Ireland (still need to visit Scotland and the Home of Golf, though). Yes, I’ve been to Augusta — and have experienced many other slices of golf heaven in between. But visiting Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula is like a right-of-passage in the golf world.
Walking onto Pebble Beach for the first time is like a dream. You’ve seen it a hundred times on television and played it in videos games. But just like you guessed, the greens are smaller than you even thought, the cliffs and angulation more exaggerated and the views even more beautiful. There’s simply no substitute for seeing it in person. It will take your breath away.
Travel Tip: visit Napa Valley on your trip to the Monterey Peninsula. (We did!) The three hour drive is beautiful and you can combine two trips into one!
17 Mile Drive
Oh, the famous 17 Mile Drive. A scenic cruise down the Pacific coastline through the subdivision of Pebble Beach. On the loop, you will pass by some of the most famous golf courses in the world: The Links at Spanish Bay, Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Spyglass Hill, Poppy Hills, Cypress Point and Pebble Beach.
You will pay a small fee to enter the gated community. Make an entire day of it, or simply just pass through. Either way, it’s worth your time — golf fan or not.
The 17 Mile Drive is basically an inhabited park system. There are mini parking lots designated throughout the trail, with scenic outlooks, guide maps and informational plaques aplenty. For most of your experience, you will feel like you are in a state park — except there are mansions, golf courses, restaurants and clubhouses dotting the journey.
Caution: make sure to be on the lookout for deer! They are EVERYWHERE and your eyes will tend to wonder on this scenic drive. So be careful!
The Lone Cypress — the warmup
There’s a reason Pebble Beach chose this as its logo. My favorite scenic stopping-point on the 17 Mile Drive, the famous Lone Cypress is as magical and mysterious, as it is beautiful. With plenty of parking and stairs that lead down to a perfect viewing area — take time to soak up the peaceful aura of the 17 Mile Drive’s signature attraction (literally.)
Pebble Beach — the highlight of the round
If you don’t have time to walk the entire course I suggest checking out the 16th, 17th and 18th holes. The finishing stretch gifts you breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, all within a close distance of the clubhouse.
Have a little bit more time? Make sure to venture out to the 6th, 7th and 8th holes. You’ll be blown away by the 4th and 5th holes on your way there and in complete awe by the time to you get to the top of the cliff at the 6th green and look down at the famous par 3, 7th. It’s even better than you imagined! Like the golf gods just attached a tiny piece of land to the side of the cliff, specifically so the 7th hole could be made. It’s unreal!
If you’ve worked up an appetite by this time, stop at the Pebble Beach Market to grab a freshly made sandwich and a scoop of gelato to take to their picnic area or to walk down to the cliffs off the 18th green. Talk about snack views!
The Resort at Pebble Beach
That’s right! Pebble Beach has its own little village. Something I wasn’t really aware of before my visit. This is more than just a hotel for Pebble Beach guests. This is an entire resort, for the public to also enjoy, on the 17 Mile Drive.
A market, a spa, the clubhouse & restaurant, Tap Room pub, shops and even a visitors center! This place has it all!
I recommend checking it all out, while sipping on a latte from the market. You might just be able to get your Christmas shopping done early 😉
The bagpiper at sunset — the 19th hole
I recommend circling back to the Inn at Spanish Bay to conclude your journey. Get there early to get a spot at one of their fire pits. Enjoy the view of the golf course along the ocean and wait for the sun to go down.
At 5:45pm during Daylight Savings Time, the bagpiper will begin to play — starting at the first hole and concluding their performance right in front of the fire pits off the 18th.
It is such a neat experience and the perfect way to end your 17 Mile Drive! Inside, the Inn has several restaurants with a view if you’d like to conclude your evening indoors.
Bixby Creek Bridge — extra holes
Extend your trip by traveling south of the 17 Mile Drive down California Highway 1. The drive is gorgeous and will lead you through part of Big Sur — a California attraction all its own.
One of many scenic stops in the Big Sur area, you’ll recognize Bixby Creek Bridge from the numerous car commercials it’s been featured in, along with several cameos in Hollywood productions such as HBO’s Big Little Lies.
It’s really neat and you’ll feel like you’ve seen it before, even if you can’t directly recall any of those examples I just listed.
Where to stay
We stayed in Carmel, while on our trip to Pebble Beach. Just outside the south entrance to the 17 Mile Drive, Carmel is a cute little town with several restaurants and shops. Numerous hotels dot the Carmel area, but you really can’t go wrong staying anywhere around the Monterey Peninsula.
Up next: the PLAYERS Championship
We have a few more weeks until the TOUR stops in my neck of the woods — Jacksonville, FL. In the meantime, I’ll be in-studio bringing you your weekly golf coverage. But coming up on the blog, I’ll share my favorite spots in Jax for those interested in making their way here for one of my personal favorite tournaments of the year.
I want to hear from YOU! Share your favorite 17 Mile Drive tips & stories! Let me know what you’d like to see on the blog in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram.