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Big Sur 17-Mile Drive Travel Guide

The ultimate 17-Mile Drive travel guide.
This is it.

I've stayed in Monterey for about a week now, and every day feels like a new adventure.
From the coastline drives to the beautiful beaches, I've been exploring bits and pieces of Monterey, and truly making the most out of my time here.

One thing I wanted to cross off my Monterey checklist was the 17-Mile Drive. This scenic coastline drive starts in the Pacific Grove area and Pebble Beach. The entrance fee to the drive is $10.25 per vehicle, and you pay at the Pebble Beach Resorts. You also receive a brochure with lots of historic and scenic points, which can help you along your drive. 

We didn't hit every single viewpoint during our drive, but again, since it's along the way, you can map out other places and stop whenever you want. We ended up leaving at 7 AM from our hotel because I wanted some morning sunrise action, but the drive itself isn't too long. My final destination was McWay Falls, but you can keep going down California State Highway 1. 

Here's a visual of the beginning of our drive.

I would recommend driving up through Lovers Point Park (A), down Asilomar State Beach (B), through the Pebble Beach Resorts entrance where you'll pay the fee (C), and then going down from there. During the drive, you'll see the 17-Mile Drive sign arrows that were really helpful during the trip. I lost service for the majority of the drive, so following the signs were the best bet.

Stop 1: Pebble Beach

Our first stop wasn't intentional. In fact, you'll be finding yourself stopping a lot on the way down because everything is so scenic and beautiful. I couldn't even tell you how many times I said the word WOW during this trip. 

We drove through the Monterey Peninsula Country Club down through Pebble Beach, until we reached Carmel. 

Stop 2: Carmel-by-the-Sea

After doing some research on places to eat, there were lots of remarks on the food in Carmel. I wanted to make a pit stop there and explore the area a little bit. I had heard good things about Dametra Cafe, which is a mediterranean restaurant located in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The Carmel area itself reminded me of downtown Charleston. It was a nice area to shop, eat, and walk around. The parking was a tad tricky. Most of the street parking is parallel-parking with signs marked 30 minutes parking, but we found a spot nearby for 2 hours parking. Make sure you read the signs, if you're parking! 

I ended up ordering the smoked salmon appetizer plate that came with garlic cheese bread. The wait itself wasn't too long, and we were also serenaded by the chef during our visit. 

We left Carmel-by-the-Sea and headed down Highway 1 to Point Lobos.

Stop 3: Point Lobos State Natural Reserve 
Since we were hiking, I obviously brought a change of clothes. In fact, I would recommend bringing different jackets to layer because the weather changed from time to time. At Point Lobos, it was so windy to the point that I could barely breathe / open my eyes. Don't forget to bring sunglasses. You will need them! 

 After Point Lobos, we continued driving for awhile until we reached Garrapata State Park.

Stop 4: Garrapata State Park 

We parked on the side of the highway, which by the way, is common along this drive. You will see other cars parked in the area. Some of them are hikers, and others who are just visiting the area. 
BE AWARE that car theft is a serious thing here, so don't leave valuables in plain sight in the car. We made sure of it every time we stopped along the road, and locked our bags in the trunk of our car. 

This place was a dream. 
There's lots of hiking trails here, but we didn't want to stay too long.

We continued down Notleys Landing to the two bridges.
Obviously, we had to stop by Bixby Creek Bridge for that famous shot.

Stop 5: Bixby Creek Bridge

Ever since I started Big Little Lies, (and I say started because I actually haven't kept up with it), I've been dying to see the Bixby Creek Bridge in person. 

It was that same surreal feeling when I saw the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. 

I would recommend parking on the side with the Bridge facing the ocean. There's limited parking on both sides, but I personally loved the view from here. 

Or... if you want to check out the other side, be wary of the cars driving by, and simply walk over.

This is the view from the other side. 

We continued our drive down Big Sur to Andrew Molera State Park. 

If you want to do some hiking, this park is an amazing place for it. I would recommend spending lots of time here. Since we were only doing a day trip, we continued on our way.

Stop 6: somewhere between Andrew Molera State Park and Pfeiffer Beach. 

This stop was also unintentional, but I'm so glad we stopped. 
Along our drive, I noticed so many drives along the cliff, so I wanted to stop by one of them to enjoy the view from up above. I can't tell you the exact coordinates of our location here, but you'll see lots of places to stop during the drive, so I would recommend making a couple for quick breaks. 

This was honestly one of my favorite views in Big Sur.

Stop 7: Pfeiffer Beach

This Beach was a must on my checklist because of the famous purple sand. I kid you not. 
It's hard to find because it's a secluded area, but as you're driving down, when you see the yellow NARROW ROADS sign on the road, you have to make a sharp right, and follow the road down a forest-y path. It's kind of an odd way to enter a beach, but just continue down that road and you'll see a sign that'll lead you to the Pfeiffer Beach Day Use Area. 

There were tons of interesting rock formations and picnic spots.

Stop 8: McWay Falls

Last but not least... McWay Falls was definitely on my list. McWay Falls is an 80-foot-tall waterfall that flows year-round from McWay Creek in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The water actually is this blue. It's incredible.

 I thought it was going to be a trek to get to the falls, but in fact... it was less than a half mile walk. And you don't actually go to the waterfall.

This is the closest you can get of the Falls. 

After our visit to McWay Falls, we made the drive back up to Monterey. The best thing about day tripping is that if you missed any points the first time, you can easily revisit those areas on the way home. 

 If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out!
I hope this was helpful. Thanks for reading!

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