The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a Mecca for car enthusiasts and international socialites. This annual event in is in its 65th year and draws enormous crowds on the golf course at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Because the venue is enormous, our children have ample space to run around without bothering anyone (just steer them clear of the judging area). It is a favorite family tradition we look forward to each summer. The 2015 event launches on August 16th. To get the best accommodations, book early. We like the Carmel Valley Ranch, which is an incredible family friendly resort. Make arrangements early, as this is one of the busiest weeks of the year in the Monterey Peninsula.
The weather in Pebble Beach changes throughout the day, so dress your children in layers. They will be cold in the morning and warm in the afternoon. Ladies, keep in mind that you are on grass and should wear flats or wedges. I would recommend closed toe flats because there is a substantial amount of walking and standing around. I usually wear a long sleeve dress, but people come in every type of outfit. I would not recommend jeans and a baseball cap because you will feel out of place. That being said, you will find many people in white jeans, neutral flat sandals, and an Hermès belt and blouse. This past year my friend wore that look and commented that she felt like she was wearing the uniform. Most people do dress up, and you will see a few women wearing hats as if they were at the Kentucky Derby.
Bring sunscreen, sunglasses (the sun reflects off the water and it can be bright), a picnic blanket, and activities for your kids. If your kids still use a stroller, load it up. It may be a pain to get on and off the parking shuttle buses but worth the effort to haul your stuff and tired children. You can get very sunburned even when it seems foggy. There is really no place to sit down unless you have an invitation to a VIP suite which can be difficult to score. The field opens to spectators at 10:30. Not many people stay the entire day. It gets most crowded around noon, so I like to arrive early and leave early This helps avoid the traffic leaving the event on the many single lane roads in the area.
There are food concessions as if you were at a state fair, like big pretzels, hotdogs, frozen lemonade, but none are healthy or worth the calories. I prefer food from the general store at the Inn at Pebble Beach, and I load up on snacks for the family beforehand. I also recommend the restrooms that are located across from the store and are part of the hotel over the options available after entering the event.
Parking is the biggest drag about attending the event. The wait at the parking lot for the event’s shuttle buses can be up to a half hour, and the ride can take up to a half hour, so be prepared. Once the bus drops you off, you have more walking to reach the event. The walk is far for kids but reasonable for adults. The bus drop off is near the stables, so I would not recommend wearing your nicest shoes or heels because they can become quite dusty or damp from the grass. There are several residents who live by the venue that will let you park your car on their lawn and will charge an arm and a leg, but then there is no bus back to your car.
The Councours is the main event of Autoweek, but I never miss The Quail. The Quail is a smaller, more exclusive event, but it is difficult to get tickets. The event typically begins with a man jumping out of a plane and landing in the middle of the crowds. There are musicians who play traditional music, and we have seen bag pipes and mariachis playing side by side, and yet somehow it works well, and just feels fun. The Quail is held on the Friday before the Concours, and—because it is more exclusive— it is easier logistically to bring children and to park. One of the things I like about The Quail is that once inside, everything is included— unlimited top shelf alcohol and food. This is where my children first tried and fell in love with oysters and caviar. They have also have gourmet ice cream and other treats.
My husband and son love attending the races at Laguna Seca because you get to see real people racing their vintage cars. My daughter and I stay at our resort to play that day because it is typically very warm, with long walks to parking and very loud. I would recommend bringing ear plugs for little ones.