With 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, on a romantic date, or letting the salty air breeze through your hair along the coast, your in-car adventure awaits. Here are the most scenic drives around the city. 👇
1. Mulholland Drive
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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) or romantic dates and it’s brimming 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
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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. Palos Verdes Estates to San Pedro
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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 lookout 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 which features the ornate Korean Friendship Bell and the basketball court that seems to stretch out into the ocean.
4. White Point – Royal Palms Park
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As you ride along W Paseo Del Mar and down Kay Fiorentino Drive to White Point Park at sunset, you’ll see lines of cars parked to take in the cotton candy skies lighting up the Pacific Ocean. On the scenic drive down Paseo Del Mar, you can turn right into the Royal Palms parking area packed with surfers when the conditions are suitable. If you turn left towards White Point, you’ll find scuba divers and tide pool explorers. You can also settle in at the picnic tables atop the bluff where you can marvel at the remnants of the former 1920s hot spring resort.
5. Los Angeles Crest Highway to Mount Wilson Observatory
No doubt the local ocean views are gorgeous, but if you’re in need of some truly different scenery, the drive from the Los Angeles Crest Highway to the Mount Wilson Observatory is your answer. Along the way of the twists and turns of the road, you’ll get an incredible bird’s-eye view of the Angeles National Forest. After you finish ascending the mountainous landscape, you can enjoy a concert right in the vaulted dome housing of the observatory.
6. Windsor Boulevard
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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. There’s no doubt that this scenic drives is also one of the most iconic.
7. Playa Del Rey To Manhattan Beach
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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
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Moving along Wilshire Boulevard is hands down the quickest way to take in as much of L.A.’s essential attractions in one go as possible and one of the most scenic drives too. 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
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Another one of the most essential scenic drives 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.