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Things To Do

9 Spectacular Drives To Take Around L.A. At Least Once

By Secret Los Angeles

Featured Image: Ildan Suleimanov via Unsplash

Here’s why taking the scenic route in L.A. is absolutely mandatory. 

With the picturesque beaches, dramatic cliffs, rolling hills covered with wildflowers and vibrant mural scenes, L.A.’s wide open roads are always calling. Winding down the windows and cranking up the tunes offers a chance to leave the world behind and discover something new or remind ourselves just how spoiled we are to live in this diverse city. Whether it’s cruising down an iconic boulevard lined with towering palms, taking in the neon-soaked streets, marveling at the lowriders or letting the salty air breeze through your hair along the coast, your in-car adventure awaits. 

1. Mulholland Drive

Credit: Cedric Letsch via Unsplash

Carving through the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, Mulholland Drive is easily one of the most recognizable and cinematic stretches of road in the city. That’s not only owing to its time on the Silver screen but its stellar views of the San Fernando Valley. It creates the perfect setting for high-speed car chases (staged ones, of course), romantic dates and brims with Hollywood glamour. It’s no wonder David Lynch centered his neo-noir masterpiece around it. Heading from Ventura to Santa Monica, you can take in views from one of the many overlooks and see top attractions like Hollywood Hills, Getty Center and Griffith Park along the way. 

2. Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) from Malibu to Neptune’s Net

Credit: Kyle Cottrel via Unsplash

Strictly speaking, this coastal cruise from Manhattan Beach to Neptune’s Net crosses over into Los Angeles County, but it would be a crime to leave it off the list. It encompasses a quintessential stretch of road that hugs the shoreline with jaw-dropping ocean views on one side and equally impressive cliffs with mansions perched atop on the other side. You’ll have sun-soaked bluffs that offer plenty of stop-offs along the way, including Leo Carrillo State Park and Zuma Beach. Then park off in Manhattan Beach to take in that classic California sunset with palms and vintage cars. 

3. Mel’s Drive In

Credit: Mel’s Drive In

This may be on the shorter side of drives (depending on where you’re coming from and how many times you go through the drive-thru) but it’s packed with retro nostalgia, beaming neon signs, vintage lowriders and celebrities picking up classic American fare. Anyone of the location will transport you to a bygone era with their carhop service served by waitresses on roller skates and endless lines of vintage cars. You could say this is Snoop Dog’s second garage where he regularly showcases his enviable car collection and sometimes adds his famous hot wings to the menu. 

4. Palos Verdes Estates to San Pedro

Credit: Derek Liang via Unsplash

Palos Verdes is a bottomless well of stunning natural landscapes. But heading from Palos Verdes Estates to San Pedro along Palos Verdes Dr S, your biggest challenge will be to keep your eyes on the road. You’ll take in the rugged cliffsides and keep a look out for whales near Point Vicente Lighthouse in Palos Verdes. Then in San Pedro, you’ll have a slew of landmarks that demand to be explored on foot like the Angel’s Gate Park that features the ornate Korean Friendship Bell and the basketball court that seems to stretch out into the ocean. 

5. Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience

Credit: Netflix and Fever

There is quite literally no other drive in the world like this thrilling ride through 1980s Hawkins. You’ll join Eleven and the gang for a neon-lit adventure through a multi-level labyrinth, filled with Stranger Things treats and secret agents in lab coats. Toyota Sienna, the official sponsor, has got some surprises in store for visitors, including a first look at the brand new 2021 Toyota Sienna and a free snack for all ticket holders driving a Toyota car. Get to the portal at Starcourt Mall in DTLA before it vanishes forever.

6. Windsor Boulevard

Credit: Roberto Nickson via Unsplash

Sometimes you just need that scenery that screams “I’m in L.A.!” and this palm-lined boulevard with a view of the Hollywood Sign could be more iconically L.A. If you want that coveted snap of the sign you’ll need to stop by between 4th and 5th streets on Windsor Blvd. near Hancock Park. 

7. Playa Del Rey To Manhattan Beach 

Credit: @scottalexmills via Instagram

Heading from Playa Del Rey in El Segundo to Manhattan Beach along Vista Del Mar Ln., you’ll enjoy a winding coastal cruise that leads to a straight stretch along the shores with stunning beach views, dotted with palms. It’s the perfect low-key spot to soak up the surf scene. 

8. Wilshire Boulevard

Credit: Joe Byrnes via Unsplash

This is hands down the quickest way to take in as much of L.A.’s essential attractions in one go as possible. Traverse the city’s diverse cultural heritage ranging from Museum Row with LACMA’s iconic “Urban Light” installation to the buzzing nightlife of Koreatown and the perfectly manicured boulevards in Beverly Hills. 

9. Santa Monica to Malibu on the PCH

Credit: Ildan Suleimanov via Unsplash

Another essential route through Los Angeles is beginning at the end of Interstate 10 and heading North on the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. Cruise alongside the surfers and skaters on the beachside road before journeying into the rugged canyons of Malibu.