In June of 2011, I visited Pebble Beach with my youngest brother and his dog. The dog had a great time, and so did we.
There’s a scenic road, known as the 17-Mile Drive, with many turnouts where you can park your car, stretch your legs, and admire the scenery. Spanish Bay, towards the northern end, has an excellent beach as well as a picnic area and walking paths through mounds of large pebbles and dunes meadows. There are some other beaches as well, but most of the coastline is impressively rocky. Depending on where you stop, you can venture out onto the coastal rocks or view them from a higher vantage point.
At Bird Rock, various seabirds congregate along with sea lions, grouping themselves together by species along both horizontal and vertical lines. At Fanshell Overlook, the beach below belongs to harbor seals, who looks sleek and elegant while sporting in the water, but haul out here and cover the white sands like an array of giant slugs. During the spring pupping season (April 1 – June 1) this area is closed. The pups must grow fast. We came in late June, and all the seals we saw were fairly well grown.
South of Cypress Point Lookout, the coastline has more trees, including the living Lone Cypress* and the dead Ghost Tree. Continuing south past Pescadaro Point, the 17-Mile Drive turns inward and loops back through the Del Monte Forest, habitat for a number of rare and endangered plant species.
The 17-Mile Drive is a private road, maintained by the Pebble Beach Company. While you can freely hike or bicycle into the area, driving along the road requires payment of a toll. At the time of my visit, the fee was $9.50 per car. If you keep the toll receipt, you can get the the fee deducted from the cost of a meal at a number of restaurants in Pebble Beach. We took advantage of this and enjoyed lunch at Sticks, which probably offers the best vegetarian choices.
If you have a chance to spend a day exploring the 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, I highly recommend it. Take along a jacket, as there can be chilly wind and fog, and don’t forget to bring your camera.
*While the Pebble Beach company objects to commercial use of images of The Lone Cypress as infringements upon its trademark, it’s OK to photograph this tree for personal use or artistic purposes. A natural object such as a tree cannot be copyrighted.