For many years, the Pebble Beach Company has enjoyed a relationship with Lexus whereby hotel guests are able to borrow automobiles from the luxury carmaker for a complimentary two hours during their stays. I seldom pass up the opportunity, in order to take a spin around the magnificent 17-Mile Drive, a scenic loop that is truly one of the most remarkable in the world.
The road was laid out in 1892 by the Pacific Improvement Company, a consortium of the Big Four railroad barons: Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Collis Huntington and Leland Stanford. Its original purpose was to provide an excursion for guests from the Hotel Del Monte — now Herrmann Hall, part of the Naval Postgraduate School of the United States Navy — in the hope that they would be induced to purchase one of the residential plots on PIC land. The drive first runs inland, then along the coast before heading up into the hills. Scenic viewpoints, some of which are more than 600 feet above sea level, provide a succession of astonishing vistas. The most iconic attraction is the Lone Cypress, a Monterey cypress tree that is the official symbol of Pebble Beach. Invariably, I stop so frequently that the 17-mile trip takes well over an hour.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of the February 2015 Hideaway Report under the title “The Incomparable 17-Mile Drive”.