When it comes to America’s road trips, it’s hard to beat the scenic drives in Los Angeles. Pacific Coast Highway hugs the curves of the coast overlooking the stunning blue ocean.
Other LA scenic drives meander through the Hollywood hills, past glamorous villas, and wild canyons.
For locals, these scenic drives in LA are great if you are looking for something to do on the weekend. If you are a visitor to Los Angeles, also read 15 Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting Los Angeles for some very helpful tips.
These Los Angeles Scenic drives also go past some of the 13 Prettiest Southern California Beaches and the 10 Best Hikes in Malibu and Pacific Palisades, which are completely worth a stop along the way.
10 Best Scenic Drives in Los Angeles
It’s not a secret that there are some stellar standouts in Los Angeles. Hit the road with the best scenic drives in Los Angeles with heart-stopping views.
1. Pacific Coast Highway is the Best LA Scenic Drive on a Sunny Day
There’s no doubt that Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most famous coastal drives in California. And for a good reason. Its picturesque cliffs, sea stacks, gorgeous urban spaces, and the roaring ocean will take your breath away.
Taking a drive on PCH is one of the best free things to do in Los Angeles.
Start your legendary road trip from your Santa Monica Hotel at one of the two best viewpoints, the McClure Tunnel or the California Incline.
The McClure Tunnel at the end of the 10 freeway has an ocean filled view as you emerge onto PCH that instantly makes your day a good one..
The California Incline is our other favorite start to this drive with gorgeous views of Santa Monica Bay, especially at sunset.
Drive north on Pacific Coast Highway until you reach the county line at Neptune’s Net. There’s still more beauty to enjoy if you want to continue until you reach Point Magu. There are multiple places to stop for lunch, a hike or a beach day.
Points of Interest: Malibu Pier, Malibu Country Mart, Sullivan Canyon, Paradise Cove, Zuma Beach, El Capitan Beach, Leo Carrillo State Park
2. Palos Verdes Has the Best Scenic Drives in LA by Golf Courses
Did you know that several scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed at the Palos Verdes Peninsula?
Palos Verdes is a treasure trove of stunning natural landscapes featuring breathtaking scenery around every turn. On a clear day the views extend all the way to Catalina Island and Malibu.
If you ever needed an excuse to hit the roads of Palos Verdes, then the incredible golf courses along the way will definitely convince you. Palos Verdes courses are considered to be some of the best golf venues in the world.
One of the most incredible is Terranea, with a stunning oceanfront golf course and a top notch resort even if you’re not a golfer.
There are plenty of spots to pull over and enjoy the view especially at the many beaches along the coast.
Point Vicente Lighthouse set on a 130 foot cliff, has some of the best vistas in addition to being one of the top spots to see whales from December to March.
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3. Mulholland Drive is One of the Top Los Angeles Scenic Drives at Night
It is legit to say that Mulholland Drive is legendary. This winding road is one of the most famous in the world and will definitely offer some mesmerizing views.
For all the movie-enthusiasts, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, might be the first that comes to mind.
But one of the most iconic scenes of the blockbuster movie “La La Land” starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone was also filmed here at the Mulholland Scenic Overlook..
This drive is so pretty that you’ll definitely have a hard time keeping your eyes on the road. Drive carefully and make the most of it by stopping at the various lookouts.
You can go during the day but they’re prettiest at night, unless it’s super clear day after a rainstorm.
- Jerome C Daniel Overlook Above Hollywood Bowl – 7036 Mulholland Drive – one of the best views
- Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook at Fryman Canyon – 8401 Mulholland Drive – Good for combining with a hike
- Mulholland Drive Scenic Overlook – 8591 Mulholland Drive – La La Land Views
- Johnson Overlook – 14851 Mulholland Drive – Expansive night views of San Fernando Valley
4. Sunset Boulevard from the Beach to the Sunset Strip
One of the most enjoyable drives to get a feel of the diversity of L.A. is the stunning drive from the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to the Sunset Strip.
From Pacific Palisades, with its stunning bluffs overlooking the Pacific, you will drive past incredible homes, the UCLA campus, the Beverly Hills hotel and more as you wind your way along Sunset Boulevard.
You feel like you are crossing two totally different universes. The beauty of nature will soon leave room for Sunset Strip, with its lively clubs, historic restaurants, and elegant boutiques.
During the day, the best part of this drive is from the beach to La Cienega. At night, the Sunset Strip is completely different and worth driving all the way through Hollywood.
My favorite time to do this drive is during the holidays to see all the Christmas lights. Los Angeles is one of the best places to visit in California in December.
Points of Interest: Riviera Country Club, UCLA Campus, Playboy Mansion, Beverly Hills Hotel, Whisky a Go Go, Sunset Plaza, The Comedy Store, Chateau Marmont, Hollywood Palladium
5. Angeles Crest Scenic Byway is the LA Scenic Drive for Car Enthusiasts
The Angeles Crest Scenic Byway, Route 2, runs from Cañada-Flintridge through the San Gabriel Mountains to Wrightwood and is definitely one of the prettiest highways in Southern California.
Car and motorcycle enthusiasts love this drive! Just a few minutes away from the city of Los Angeles, this incredible road will offer you a fantastic, secluded getaway.
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enter a realm of breathtaking views. What makes this drive so unique is its altitude, which can exceed 7,000 feet, often getting you above the clouds.
Galaxies far, far away appear closer than ever when you visit Mount Wilson Observatory along the way.
This realm of science and scientific research not only escorts you through an unforgettable experience of education and art but also offers a stunning view of the Los Angeles hills with the city – literally – at your feet.
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6. Griffith Park is the Shortest, Most Interesting of LA Scenic Drives
Griffith Park is where concrete meets wilderness, and here is where you will admire the incredible merging of nature and city life.
But don’t get fooled by the length of the drive: it’s only 3.5 miles, but it will offer you some of the most incredible sceneries.
Once you reach the peak of the hill, Los Angeles will literally be at your feet, and you’ll be rewarded with some great views of the sparkling city below. You can also see views of the Hollywood Sign from multiple spots.
Since this drive is as much about the destination as the drive, spend some time visiting the astronomy exhibits at Griffith Observatory, doing a hike on the Griffith Park Trail and bring a picnic for lunch with a view.
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7. Arroyo Seco Parkway is the Most Historic Scenic Drive in Los Angeles
The Arroyo Seco Parkway (also known as the Pasadena Freeway) is a drive through history. This scenic byway is famous for being the first divided-lane, high-speed, limited-access road in the urban western United States.
Some say that Arroyo Seco is the cradle of Los Angeles car culture and is often referred to as the first “freeway” in the West.
With its grand arches rising 150 feet above the Arroyo Seco, the Pasadena Bridge remained part of Route 66 until the completion of the Arroyo Seco Parkway in 1940.
But what makes this drive so incredible is the perfect mix between scenic vistas, lush landscapes, and cultural heritage.
Did you know that between the late 1850s and early 1860s, Arroyo Seco was the center for the Arts and Crafts movement on the West Coast?
This historical road continues to inspire generations and is still one of four internationally recognized centers of the movement in America.
Points of Interest: The Rose Bowl, Colorado Boulevard, Norton Simon Museum, Huntington Gardens, Descanso Gardens
8. Hollywood Boulevard is a Sightseeing Must for Visitors
Hollywood Boulevard has some of the most well known sights in Los Angeles. It’s a nod to days past and definitely worth a drive to check it all out.
You’ll notice the area is filled with an interesting cast of characters that sometimes makes the view from the car a little better.
If you’re looking for the best drive through Hollywood, start from the Pantages Theater and east on Hollywood Boulevard passing the Hollywood Walk of Fame, legendary Musso & Frank Grill, and Hollywood & Highland shopping center.
After the Chinese Theater, turn right on N. Orange Drive to make your way to the Magic Castle, the exclusive private clubhouse for members of The Academy of Magical Arts.
From there, you can wind your way up Sycamore Avenue to one of the best night time view of Los Angeles at Yamashiro restaurant. Another option is to head up Highland to the Hollywood Bowl.
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9. Rodeo Drive is Best of Scenic Drives in LA for Fashionistas
Everyone should visit Rodeo Drive at least once. After a cruise around Beverly Hills , park your car and enjoy the area on foot. The city has free parking garages on almost every street.
The three blocks of Rodeo Drive make up one of the most famous streets in the world. The unrivaled top-notch shopping destination features Gucci, Prada, and Hermes shops to posh restaurants.
Even if you can’t afford the high-end shopping, a little window-shopping never hurt anybody.
But there’s a lot more than just blocks of luxury: spare some time to stroll the gardens, admire the art galleries or snap a selfie at the Walk of Style – like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but commemorating important people in the world of fashion and design.
10. Rim of the World Highway is the Best Scenic Drive for an LA Day Trip
Our last scenic drive is just outside of LA and perfect for a day trip to Lake Arrowhead. If you want to see the place where LA locals go for a weekend getaway, this is it.
The Rim of the World Highway sweeps you 5,000 feet up to another world in the San Bernardino mountains with breathtaking views along the way.
At the top, you will find multiple cute towns, out favorite being Lake Arrowhead. Do the Heart Rock Hike, get out on the lake on the Arrowhead Queen or go shopping in Lake Arrowhead Village.
Before you head home, stop at one of the Best Restaurants in Lake Arrowhead like Hortencia’s, formerly called the Cliffhanger, because it literally has the most insane view, especially at night right over the cliff.
Our favorite time to do this drive is in fall when you can see Lake Arrowhead Fall Colors. Instead of heading right back, stay at one of the cozy and stylish Lake Arrowhead Airbnbs for a weekend getaway.
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Final Thoughts About the Best Los Angeles Scenic Drives
LA may be known for legendary traffic but these scenic drives in Los Angeles will show you the places where driving can actually be fun.
Whether you are looking for an amazing drive to get out on the road or incredible views, every one of these Los Angeles drives will deliver.