In all my travels, the one of my favorite parts of the world to return to time and time again is the central coast of California. The spectacular scenery is incomparable from Pacific Grove all the way down south to San Luis Obispo.
One of the most iconic coastal drives is the Scenic 17 Mile Drive that winds its way along the coast from Pacific Grove to Carmel. Yes, it is a popular tourist attraction but I love it too much to avoid coming here. Instead, you'll find me here in the winter when the crowds are thinner and I can soak in the views in relative peace. It's also a great time of year to spot sea lions and otters basking in the warmth of the sun and frolicking in the water.
Officially, there are 21 points of interest on the Scenic 17 Mile Drive but for most people, there are really only a handful of stops worth getting out of the car for. One of my favorites is Pescadero Point, situated on the southern end near Pebble Beach. There, a small grove of Monterey cyprus stand, clinging to the cliff rocks. The trunks of several of the trees have been twisted and bleached by the wind and the sun giving the trees an almost surreal silhouette. In the winter, the green leaves of the ice plants take on warm shades of red, yellow and orange. Listen and all you'll hear are the waves crashing against the rocks. I just love being enveloped by Mother Nature here.
If you come in the winter, bring a jacket to keep warm and binoculars to spot the wildlife.