Lone Cypress Tree in Monterey-the most photographed tree in California
We have been to Santa Cruz, Carmel and Monterey vicinity a couple of times in the early 1980's. We visited the Santa Cruz Board walk, the Monterey aquarium, Cannery Row and the 17 mile drive in Carmel on scenic route Highway 1. A winding road that leads through an exclusive neighborhood and past scenic coastal views to the famed Pebble Beach, the 17-Mile Drive is one experience the Katague family will not forget. Our leisurely drive on the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Los Angeles that took us two days is one experience that we will never forget.
Here's a short review about the 17-mile drive from a satisfied tourist.
Visiting 17-Mile Drive-A must for Visitors
The 17-Mile Drive is fundamentally a road that passes through an exclusive neighborhood. You'll pay a fee (per car) to drive on it and motorcycles are not allowed. Despite what you may read elsewhere, the drive from the Highway 1 Gate to the Carmel Gate is approximately 17 miles. If you enter and/or leave through different gates, the distance may be different.
Once you get inside, you'll find signs and red-painted dashed lines on the pavement to help you follow the 17-Mile Drive route. The road winds through a forested area and along the oceanfront, passing three golf courses, two luxury hotels and the famed Lone Cypress tree. The guide map you get at the gate will give a brief description of each point of interest.
One of the scenic stops along the coastal route in the Monterey Bay Area
If you want to picnic along the 17-Mile Drive, stop at the Safeway store at the intersection of Highway 1 and Rio Road to pick up supplies or try the 5th Avenue Deli (between San Carlos & Dolores) in downtown Carmel. You can also buy picnic goodies along the drive at the Pebble Beach Market next to The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Best picnic spots are between Point Joe and Seal Rock and you'll find picnic tables at many stops. Local seagulls roost on the tables when no one is around, so you may want to bring something to spread over the table before you eat.
Even though it's written on the bottom of the 17-Mile Drive entry fee receipt, it's a little-known fact that you can get a refund. If you spend more than $25 at any of the Pebble Beach Company restaurants along the 17-Mile Drive, they'll deduct the fee from your bill. We recommend Roy's restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Bay for their great views and service. Their prices are also much more reasonable than the Lodge at Pebble Beach, and after the fee was subtracted, our lunch bill was only a few dollars more than a mediocre breakfast we had in Carmel the previous day.
Here's some of Monterey's county tourist destinations for you to consider.
"Visit Monterey and see the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, made famous by Nobel Prize-winning Salinas writer John Steinbeck. Experience the legendary golf courses of Pebble Beach. Take a California wine country vacation in Carmel Valley, Soledad or Salinas Valley, or go art gallery hopping in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea or buzzing Sand City. For an outdoor experience, hike the wild trails of Big Sur, go surfing in Moss Landing, or watch the hang gliders in Marina and Seaside. Dine in centrally located Del Rey Oaks, and relax in an old-fashioned, seaside home town among the Victorian cottages and Monarch butterflies of Pacific Grove. Monterey County is your destination for a perfect California vacation".
With regards to Santa Cruz ,the board walk is too touristy, but fireworks on the beach during July 4th is fun if you do not mind the crowds.
Fireworks at Santa Cruz Beach
Scenic Pacific Coast Highway Drive
My wife and I have driven scenic California Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles with a stop at San Luis Obispo and the Hearst Castle. This experience offered us, the best American coastal scenery in our life time.
Some of California's best views lie along the coast road between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The most dramatic scenery is on the stretch between Carmel and San Simeon.
The Pacific Coast Highway – officially designated California Highway 1 – is a favorite route for visitors exploring the state. The 485 miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles is one of the country's best scenic drives. A minimum of two days is needed to see a few of the attractions and allow for plenty of stops to admire the beautiful views along the Pacific Coast Highway.
The coastal scenery is most dramatic on the stretch between Carmel and San Simeon. Here are the highlights of this central section of the Pacific Coast Highway drive.
Along the Pacific Coast Highway(Photo from Sister Guia Jambalos). How Lovely is your dwelling place O Lord, Our God!
1.Carmel-by-the-Sea: The actor Clint Eastwood once served a term as mayor of this purposely quaint town 4 miles south of Monterey. It has a beautiful setting on the headlands of Carmel Bay, sloping gently down to the ocean shore. In order to preserve its character, city ordinances forbid such things as parking meters, streetlamps, franchise restaurants and even postal deliveries. The result is a picturesque – and wealthy – town with designer shops and numerous art galleries. Among the best is the Weston Gallery on Sixth Street, with works by famous photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, a former resident. At the end of Ocean Avenue, Carmel Beach is a peaceful spot with beautiful white sand backed by pine-covered cliffs. Further along, Carmel River State Beach has a lagoon and nature preserve harboring many bird species. At both beaches, strong tides and dangerous currents make swimming hazardous. Sea otters and sea lions can be spotted at Point Lobos State Reserve, 2 miles south. The point is also a good place to see migrating California gray whales, especially in January, April and the beginning of May.
2. Carmel Mission: Slightly inland along the river, this was the second in the chain of California missions. Established in 1770, it served as the headquarters for Northern California. Father Junípero Serra, founder of the missions, is buried at the foot of the altar. The mission has been carefully restored to its original plan. The church features an ornate Gothic arch behind the altar, while reconstructed rooms such as the kitchen and Father Serra's simple cell depict mission life.
3.Big Sur: The 100-mile stretch of coast known as Big Sur is the highlight of the Pacific Coast Highway. Here, Highway 1 runs dramatically along a narrow, winding route carved out of the cliffs, high above the sea. Below are rocky coves and crashing waves; inland are steep mountains, canyons and dense forests. Bixby Creek Bridge, 260 feet high and 700 feet long, was the world's largest single-arch span for many years after its construction in 1932.
Few people live in this rugged region. The town of Big Sur is really just a long string of restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations. A cluster of restaurants and shops surround the resort of Nepenthe, tucked away behind oak trees. Most of the coastline is protected in several state parks, which offer hiking trails, campsites, wilderness areas and access to sandy beaches and rocky shores. These include Andrew Molera State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Jade Cove.
Note: This is No.13 of 30 articles on places that the David B. Katague family have either resided or visited in US since 1960. No. 14 will be our trip from San Francisco to Mendocino passing through Point Reyes National Park and Bodega Bay.