Top 5 Los Angeles scenic drives
Spirited drives, from Hollywood glamour to hidden canyon roads.
Outside of Stuttgart, there’s no other place on Earth better connected to Porsche than California —especially Los Angeles. Decades of interaction have shaped the city’s car culture and Porsche culture alike. 10 years ago, Magnus Walker’s Urban Outlaw went viral and showed the world what Californian Porsche culture is, and what it’s like to drive on the iconic 6th Street Bridge at night. Of course, over the decades the City of Angels has earned itself much more screen time than that. Numerous chase scenes and sunset cruises were shot on its now iconic streets. And while LA is world famous for its multi-lane traffic jams, it also offers amazing opportunities for the keen driver. So here’s how to find the best drives in LA!
Los Angeles Scenic Drives #1: Mulholland Drive
Let’s kick off your scenic Los Angeles drive with a blast down one of the world’s most famous roads: Mulholland Drive. Like Route 66, Mulholland Drive is forever cemented in pop culture, and it’s also a popular choice for driving enthusiasts. It winds through the Santa Monica mountains above the city for 21 miles, and it might be the top of the scenic drives Los Angeles offers! The difficulty is in deciding whether to enjoy the winding road or to stop from time to time to take in the city panorama. To top the many overlooks, these attractions are waiting for you:
- Hollywood Hills and the Hollywood Sign
- Griffith Park
- Getty Center
Mulholland Drive will take you through some of LA’s most expensive areas too. It’s a high chance to meet some of the major Hollywood stars here, many of whom own homes on the scenic road. Get up early or drive there during the day on weekdays, because traffic can be really dense at rush hour.
Los Angeles Scenic Drives #2: Mulholland Highway and the canyon roads
The best road trips from Los Angeles usually include the canyon roads. These backroads are not so well known for the average traveler, but are very much appreciated in drivers’ circles. Hairpins, quick rises in elevation, a big drop on one side and a cliff wall on the other, these ingredients make canyon roads special. Not to mention the mesmerizing sight of the Pacific Ocean! Mulholland Highway might be the most popular of the canyon roads. But it shouldn’t be confused with the aforementioned Mulholland Drive — the Highway runs west from Calabasas, starting from the north of Malibu and sweeping through the Santa Monica mountains. If there is one road to lead your road trip from Los Angeles, then you don’t need to hesitate much.
Top tip to get the most out of the Malibu canyon roads in one run: from the Pacific Coast Highway – the PCH, as it’s known to locals — take the Las Flores Canyon Road and enjoy the challenging set of bends and crests while climbing up into the mountains. You’ll reach Piuma Road, which will bring you to Mulholland Highway via the Malibu Canyon Road. While descending again in the direction of the PCH and the ocean, you can choose to drive Mulholland until the end or wrestle the tight curves of Decker Road. This circle can be further spiced up with the Tuna Canyon Road and the Stunt Road.
Los Angeles Scenic Drives #3: Angeles Crest Highway
No road trips from LA are complete without the Angeles Crest Highway — aka California State Route 2. The 66-mile scenic byway passes through protected forest areas, meaning that only a handful of buildings will disturb your enjoyment of nature and freedom. Angeles Crest Highway is very popular for early morning breakfast runs, which usually end at Newcomb’s Ranch roadhouse. Both Magnus and Jay Leno are frequent visitors here.
Driving the Angeles Crest Highway gives a great opportunity to visit the observatory on top of Mount Wilson. Many outstanding astronomical research projects have been carried out in Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO), but the drive here on the tight alpine road, called Mount Wilson Red Box Road, is also worth the short detour.
Los Angeles Scenic Drives #4: Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake – the Alps of Southern California
When looking for a relaxed, scenic adventure, a journey to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake is one of the best road trips from LA. This trip is more about delving into nature than hunting for the apex, since the mountain road from San Bernardino City is relatively straight. The scenic drive will take you through the most pristine high elevation forests of Southern California. Both Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake mountain resorts offer a great amount of outdoor activities all year round. An abundance of restaurants and accommodations are welcoming travelers with open arms.
This drive is part of the Rim of the World Scenic Byway, a scenic, 177-km route between Cajon Pass and San Gorgonio Pass, on the rim of the San Bernardino Mountains. Check the road information in winter before you leave, because some sections can be closed in dangerous weather conditions.
Los Angeles Scenic Drives #5: Wilshire Boulevard
Be it day or night, sunshine or neon, you can always find a lively spot on one of the arteries of the bustling city. Compared to the roads listed above, driving down Wilshire Boulevard is different from the scenic drives LA invites you to. It’s as if someone has deliberately collected everything beside the boulevard that summarizes the beauty and the grandeur of Los Angeles. Along the 16 miles between downtown and Santa Monica, the boulevard connects various parts of LA including Koreatown and the picture-perfect Beverly Hills shopping district. It’s also a good look at the city’s architectural history from the 20th century art deco to clean contemporary design.