I have been to San Francisco once or twice for very short visits but have not gone further south than the airport – on this trip I would get to do the 17-mile drive near Monterey and see famous Pebble Beach. I coupled a short business trip to San Fran with a visit to friends who leave near San Jose, California. I really had no plans going in but I did want to see legendary Silicon Valley and get a sense for how the home of the likes of Apple, Google and others was. My friends suggested that beyond that, I should also check out the 17-mile drive and Pebble Beach. I liked the idea and the rest is history. Let’s get to that drive but first…
Leaving San Fran – Caltrain!
I left San Fran on a Wed afternoon by taking the Caltrain down for the hour ride to San Jose for $9.25! Note that the hour ride is for the “express” train that makes less than half a dozen stops between the two cities. The express only runs at peak times which in the afternoon means from 4 PM until the end of rush hour. I killed some time at the station to avoid taking the non-express with all the annoyance that that would bring with all the stops. The 4PM was not packed but was pretty well “attended” with commuters from school-aged kids going home to worker bees heading back home. The train is a double-decker so plenty of space. Except I did not find a spot for suitcases so I had to place it on the seat next to me. Maybe that was better as it was with me the whole time?
17-Mile Drive and Pebble Beach
I am not a golfer but I knew, of course, about Pebble Beach. To be honest, I really did not know where it was. At least I had heard of it. But I had never heard of 17-Mile Drive. We left San Jose and drove through eucalyptus forests and passed by sand dunes as we approached Monterey. Monterey has an awesome aquarium but I preferred to add Carmel to the itinerary so the aquarium will be for another time. (Read about the aquarium here.)
Starting on 17-Mile Drive
Upon entering Monterey (or its outskirts), we took a left hand turn to enter the route that would take us to 17-Mile Drive. We hit a gate where we paid $10 for the right to enter “The Drive”. The drive seems to be in private property, hence they get to charge for driving through it. It is not a park but the setup looked like one. While I am grateful -if it is private- that they have found a way to let the public in, I wonder how this choice piece of land came to be private property… an item for research (on a rainy day with nothing else going on…).
There are quite a few stops along the way by the ocean which is quite nice. You can get out of the car, eat something, walk on the beach, or watch the sea otters (or perhaps a whale?).
The water is quite frigid so there will not be any swimming but I had to dip my toes just to feel it!
The most spectacular stops were Cypress Point Lookout and Pescadero Point. The place was first spotted (that we know of) by a European as far back as 1542. Over two hundred years later, a missionary gave Cypress Point its current name. Supposedly the cypress tree growing on the rocky point is like 250 years old – they are trying to get it to stay alive until 300 (according to the sign). Wonder what they plan to do if it gets to 300. Chop it? It sure makes for a beautiful sight and an iconic image representing the California coast.
During the drive we ran into Cypress Point Club and latter the Pebble Beach courses. What a setting for golf! Not that I play but if I did…
I did not get to snap any good shots of these so I will leave you with some “sea art” from the Pacific coast: no one does it better than nature! From here we went on to Carmel and visited its famous Mission – you can read about that part here!
It is neat when travel unexpectedly shows you something you had no real understanding of – or perhaps even knowledge of. This visit qualifies under both – an unexpected enjoyable side trip!
Pin 17-Mile Drive to your travel board!