9 BEST Scenic Drives in LA: Los Angeles Excursions & Pics

Reviewed by Jodelle Marx
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TL:DR: There’s no shortage of scenic drives in LA, so I’ve narrowed down the best of the best with this list. My top favorite is the Mulholland Drive Scenic Route.

Exploring the many scenic drives in Los Angeles is one of the best ways to experience Southern California. 

From iconic cityscapes to breathtaking mountain ranges, celebrity mansions, and everything else that LA is made of, my article covers it all.

There are endless photo ops at the lookout points along LA’s famous city streets and scenic drives.

There’s also lots of magic in the nearby mountain ranges and national parks. 

If you’re flying into LA to visit, there are many car rental options near the airports. 

I highly recommend renting a car for a couple of days while you’re in the area.

There’s nothing quite like driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with the windows down, breathing the salty air. 

So buckle up and get ready to take in the sights. These scenic drives in Los Angeles will fill your camera roll!

A scenic palm tree-lined street with the hazy city in the distance and and orange sunset sky.

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Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway
Taken from the perspective of walking down the sidewalk between Pacific Coast Highway and the beach, with mountains in the distance and palm trees all around.

Goes From: San Diego, California to Olympia, Washington (from LA, hop on at Long Beach or Santa Monica)
Distance: 1,675 miles
Time: 10 – 12 hours (but you don’t have to do the whole thing!)
Why It’s Worth Visiting: The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most famous highways in the world, and key landmarks along it are in LA’s backyard. 

The most famous parts of the Pacific Coast Highway are along the California Coast. 

The portion between Malibu and Newport Beach is most accessible from LA, depending on how far you want to drive. 

If you just drive between these two key locations, you’ll see landmarks and rugged canyons, like the Malibu Canyon, Zuma Beach, Santa Monica Pier, and Venice Beach. 

Scenes from famous movies, like Grease, were filmed on Malibu beaches along the Pacific Coast Highway, so get your camera ready! 

The Pacific Coast Highway is great for families seeking beach time or couples looking for a romantic day trip. 

And you can take a slight detour to hike in Leo Carrillo State Park, drive along Vista del Mar, or walk along the water in San Pedro.

No matter where you end up on the Pacific Coast Higway, you’ll have breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Mulholland Drive Scenic Route

Mulholland Drive Scenic Route
A scenic road winds around a corner, surrounded by dry canyons and hills.

Goes From: Hollywood at the Cahuenga Pass
Distance: 21 miles
Time: Minimum 2 hours
Why It’s Worth Visiting: As claimed by visitors, film directors, and travelers alike, Mulholland Drive is the most beautiful road in Los Angeles, and one of the best scenic drives in Los Angeles.

The Mulholland Drive Scenic Route is riddled with rich history and stunning views. It’s the most famous drive in Los Angeles by far. 

Mulholland Drive offers views of famous landmarks, like the Hollywood Bowl and the Hollywood Sign.

Aside from the Hollywood Hills you’ll see the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the Santa Monica Mountains. 

Plus, glimpse the rolling hills of famous neighborhoods such as Bel Air and Beverly Hills, Coldwater Canyon, and Laurel Canyon. 

Turn onto one of the “Canyon” roads to cruise through these posh places.

On clear days, you can even see Point Vicente Lighthouse and Catalina Island in the distance. 

Though many people stop at The Hollywood Bowl Overlook, I think it’s worthwhile to drive west for the Barbara A. Fine Overlook or the Stone Canyon Overlook. 

If you continue toward Calabasas on Mulholland Drive, you also get stunning views of the Topanga Canyon. 

The views are worth the extra bit of driving in my books. Mulholland Drive is one of Los Angeles’s most scenic drives. 

Angeles Crest Scenic Byway

Angeles Crest Scenic Byway
Dramatic green hills ripple from the ground with blue sky and wispy clouds in the background.

Goes From: La Cañada Flintridge
Distance: 66 miles
Time: 1 hour
Why It’s Worth Visiting: The Angeles Crest Scenic Byway is great if you’re looking for the most scenic drives in Los Angeles to get you just outside the city on your LA trip. 

The Angeles Crest Highway winds through the San Gabriel Mountains and offers several viewpoints of California’s scenic beauty all the way to the Mojave Desert. 

The best viewpoint, in my opinion, is located at Inspiration Point, at the Blue Ridge Summit. 

You can also visit the Mount Wilson Observatory on Mount Wilson Road for stunning views during the day and plenty of star gazing at night. 

When you return to town, you can make a loop and avoid interstates by following Huntington Drive/Colorado Boulevard.

Angeles Crest Highway also sets you up for hikes in the Angeles National Forest. I recommend Switzer Falls via Gabrielino Trail if you have time.

Griffith Park

Griffith Park is green and wild in the foreground with a walking path winding down the hill and the dense and grey LA city in the background and ocean in the far distance.

Goes From: Between Los Feliz Boulevard and the Ventura Freeway (HWY 134)
Distance: 4,210 acres of scenic park roads
Time: 2 hours
Why It’s Worth Visiting: Getting lost in the scenic roads through Griffith Park is a wonderful way to spend a day in Los Angeles with the whole family or your S/O, any time of year. 

Head north from Hollywood just a couple of minutes, and you’ll see how the city merges with the wilderness in Griffith Park. 

Southern California’s natural beauty is all around you on this classic Los Angeles drive. 

Plus, you’ll get some stunning views of the Hollywood Hills and downtown Los Angeles from the park’s altitude above the city. 

You’ll take Vermont Avenue past the mansions in the hills before making the climb to the park along Western Canyon Road.

If you go on a clear day, you can see all of the Los Angeles Basin.

Or, go at night and see millions of lights at the Griffith Observatory.

Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive intersection with pedestrians in the crosswalk and waiting at the street corner, posh buildings, and a red car sitting at a stop light.

Goes From: Begins at Beverwil Drive and ends at Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills
Distance: 2 miles
Time: Minimum 20 minutes – usually there’s traffic, and you’ll probably want to window shop
Why It’s Worth Visiting: Rodeo Drive is one of the most famous streets and most expensive streets in the world. 

It’s a two-mile stretch in Beverly Hills between Beverwil Drive and Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and it is home to over 100 of the world’s top designers in haute couture. 

This one will be best for fashionistas who want a real taste of LA’s high fashion scene. 

And if you want to stretch your legs, there are a few parking garages along Santa Monica Boulevard (they’ll be on your left if you’re coming from Crescent Heights Boulevard or N. La Brea Avenue.

Sunset Strip

Sunset Strip
Neon signs like the Hollywood Theater sign, light up the street, palm trees, and cars parked along the curb, with a looming cloudy sky overhead.

Goes From: Between Marmont Lane and Phyllis Street, Beverly Hills
Distance: 2 miles
Time: 2 hours (it really depends on how much you stop)
Why It’s Worth Visiting: Sunset Strip is one of the most visibly recognizable streets in Los Angeles, located in West Hollywood. 

It is a portion of Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills, stacked with historic restaurants, boutiques, and famous venues, such as the Whisky A Go Go and the Viper Room

Sunset Boulevard, as a whole, stretches for 22 miles, from Downtown LA to the Santa Monica shore. It passes through neighborhoods such as Echo Park and Silver Lake, the UCLA campus. 

This one is great for date night any time of year. You can drive down the strip, then catch a live band and grab a bite to eat. 

Hollywood Boulevard is famous for the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and The Chinese Theater. 

But Sunset Boulevard is arguably a more driveable sightseeing option and even more rich with LA cultural heritage.

Palos Verdes Drive

Palos Verdes Drive
A sky view of Palos Verdes Peninsula, where it sticks out into the teal ocean.

Goes From: Paseo del Mar and Palos Verdes Drive in the Palos Verdes Estates
Distance: 15 miles
Time: 45 minutes
Why It’s Worth Visiting: I’ll be honest, this one is often overlooked for some of the other more famous LA drives, but I think it’s the best coastal drive in Los Angeles. 

It starts with a glorious clifftop viewpoint on the NW side of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, looking out at the ocean in the direction of Redondo Beach and the Santa Monica Mountains.

Take Palos Verdes Boulevard until it turns into Palos Verdes Drive. You can make a full loop around the peninsula. 

I recommend turning onto Paseo Del Mar to see hilltop mansions against the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and rugged coastline.

This is definitely one of the best neighborhoods to drive through in LA. 

And if you want to extend the loop, explore the San Pedro area.

Wilshire Blvd

Wilshire Blvd
Tight, straight rows of grey ornate street lamps in varying heights, along Miracle Mile, with a skyscraper and palm trees in the background.

Goes From: Downtown LA to Ocean Avenue
Distance: 16 miles 
Time: 35 minutes
Why It’s Worth Visiting: Many people spend most of their time on Santa Monica Boulevard when they visit the area, but I find Wilshire Boulevard gives a more local, quirky experience of the city.

The portion of Wilshire Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles is known as the Miracle Mile, and is home to many of California’s largest museums, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Kylin Gallery.

The part of the road that’s in Santa Monica, however, is adorned with local art and culture, and dotted with palm trees. 

Local mom-and-pop shops, bakeries, Mexican eateries, trendy vintage and thrift shops, and lots of local artists’ studios make this stretch the epitome of Californian culture. 

Rim of the World

Rim of the World
Looking out over green hills that jut up from a flat plain, with city in the distance and a wispy clouds in a blue sky.

Goes From: Begins at Cajon Pass between the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains, ends at San Gorgonio Pass
Distance: 110 mile
Time: 2 hours (one way)
Why It’s Worth Visiting: Inland from the coast, The Rim Of The World Byway is a scenic drive along the cliffs of the San Bernardino Mountains. 

From LA, you’ll drive through San Bernardino County to access the scenic byway in the mountains. 

Along the scenic drive are Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear Lake, Silverwood Lake, and the Castle Rock Trail. 

The vista points are breathtaking!

You can take this route all year round, though you’ll want chains for your tires during the snowy months. But the winter scapes are worth the trek.

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Taylor Neal

Taylor is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, yoga instructor and frontline worker who spends most of her time in her van (Vannigan) winding through the coastal and mountain roads of California where she feels most at home. From navigating the realities of van-life to the fluctuations in diverse climates and landscapes, Taylor is excited to bring everything she’s learned about California to fellow wanderers seeking beauty and adventure.

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Hi, I'm Mimi! I'm an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty that California has to offer. My goal is to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to an alpine lake in the Sierras, finding peace among the giant redwoods, or road tripping down the PCH, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.


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