Drive in any direction from Los Angeles proper and you’ll experience breathtaking views that will make this road trip one to remember. From scenes of the sea to snow-crested mountains, from desert delights to small town nostalgia, Southern California has it all and then some. Consider the following five scenic drives that unfold within four hours of the picturesque City of Angels.
Palms To Pines Scenic Byway
To get to the beginning of this route, head toward Palm Springs from Los Angeles for about an hour and a half, passing rows of windmills and the opportunity to chase these giants spinning marvels while feeling like modern day Don Quixotes. Then, for 56 miles via the Coachella Valley’s Sonoran Desert, this storied section of highway will lead visitors to the San Bernardino National Forest, giving ample opportunity to spot all kinds of indigenous flora and fauna was well as the still waters of tiny and yes, quaint, lakes. After that, the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains will come into play where you can window shop the rocky peaks and deep canyons you’ll see on all sides of your vehicle. Need a break? Stop by Lake Hemet with your fishing pole in hand to try for the trout that reside there. Idyllic Idyllwild is also on course. The lovely mountain town has plenty of diversions, including charming cafes worthy of a break from the road.
Angeles Crest Scenic Drive
Angeles Crest Highway, also referred to as State Route 2, offers a 66-mile drive that makes you feel free from the fray that is Los Angeles on a busy day. Only a few minutes from downtown, your journey begins as you take on the curvy road that encompasses the San Gabriel Mountains. Many types of topography make up this road trip, up to and including valley, forest and dessert terrain. That said, know that the climb is steep at altitudes that top 7000 feet in places, ultimately leading a section of California located near the legendary Mt. Wilson Observatory and well worth going off-route to appreciate.
South Bay Scenic Drive
The whole of Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, is one of the most picturesque thoroughfares in the country. Overlooking the roaring Pacific, the section covering the South Bay situated between the Palos Verdes Peninsula and El Segundo is a chance to get familiar with a number of the Golden State’s best beaches. There’s Redondo, where you should pull over and walk the namesake pier for some up close and personal time in this riveting environment. Then there’s Hermosa Beach, where fun is the middle name of the favored recreation area for biking and strolling known as The Strand. Finally, there’s Manhattan Beach, a typical beach town where volleyball on the sand is a perfect practice to partake in, since this way of stretching your legs is like no other.
Palos Verdes Scenic Drive
A familiar sight if you’ve ever watched “Pirates of The Caribbean” which was largely filmed on the Palos Verdes peninsula, the Pacific is part of the stunning picture that includes jagged cliffs and charming alcoves off serene beaches. En route, expect to take time off to take pictures at the rest stops designed for such purpose. Also make room in your touring schedule so you can examine and enjoy Wayfarers Chapel, a legendary Frank Lloyd Wright Outpost also called the glass church, and Terranea Resort, where you might just be tempted to book in for a night for the purpose of pampering, celebrity style. Back on the road, know that the turns may be a bit sharp in places, so try to keep your eyes up ahead even if that means missing some of the most beautiful vistas ever seen by anyone anywhere.
This central character of the 2001 David Lynch film described as a psychological thriller is a physically impressive way to discover what Los Angeles is all about. For 55 miles, uninitiated drivers will want to intermittently stop along Mulholland Drive to see the sights from above at eight specially designated overlook points, some complete with benches on which to take in the full effect of the cityscape and the Pacific Ocean, too. This winding, twisting thoroughfare, originally added to the Southland’s scenery about a hundred years ago, is now home to all kinds of celebrities, including the inimitable Jack Nicholson. Get ready to roll like he does when you take on this storied road in all its glory.