The 17 Mile Drive is a toll road through some pretty coastal views, but you'll also drive past lots of McMansions and golf courses. Most of us would steer you to Point Lobos over the 17 Mile Drive and there is NO comparison to the wild, remote beauty of the Big Sur coast. Monterey to Big Sur is about an hour's drive.
I agree - unless you are a big fan of golf or really enjoy mansions, driving 17-Mile drive would pale in comparison to the natural places in Big Sur and Point Lobos.
I would classify the mansions on 17-Mile Drive as honest-to-goodness mansions though rather than McMansions. You have to be seriously rich to have a house on 17-Mile Drive and the rules and regulations around construction there are such that you don't get the developments of giant, poorly-constructed homes like you see in some places, what people usually refer to as McMansions. I don't think there is much new construction at all on 17-Mile Drive, actually. 17-Mile Drive is one of those places where you think "Wow, so THIS is how some people live." :)
I always feel like I'm intruding when I go into the 17 mile drive. I guess I am, which is why there's a toll on the drive. But as KM says there's not much to see that in any way compares to driving even a few miles south of carmel, like into Point Lobos for some otter watching. October is the finest time of year on the central coast, late for fog and early for rain. Staying in the Big Sur area is an incomparable experience. carmel and Monterey are cute but they're just towns. I'd give Monterey a day just to see the Aquarium, a lunch in Carmel, a day down the coast as far as Hearst Castle and another day back up. I like the Lucia Lodge for the view and the food, maybe Post Ranch Inn if you've won the lottery recently. You can do a search on the area lodging. One thing to make sure you have is a good car, a convertible would be best. If you are lucky you may see one or more of the condors that have moved into the area.
Looks like a good plan to me! 3 nights for each area is sufficient for getting a good feel for the surrounds and keep it relaxed, which is what a vacation is all about.
Monterey lodging: Best Western Beach Resort Monterey (Right on the beach, quick drive into town), Casa Munras, Best Victorian Inn
Thanks for the input; this will definitely help with the planning
Another Monterey Big Sur question. We are staying in PG. Our anniversary is while we are there. Is there a restaurant for dinner with both a good view and good food that won't leave me wondering how to pay for the rest of our trip? Seems like a lot of the places with the views don't get all that great of reviews for food and/or service.
Probably best to start a new thread RSG so that people will see your question - otherwise it will likely get overlooked tacked on to the end of this one. Also, let us know what your budget is and what kind of food you like.
I'll do that Thx