The traffic may be terrible, but when you hit the right road, you understand why nobody walks in Los Angeles. From the dazzling coastline to the twisting canyons, there are so many beautiful views of LA that make you want to keep driving and driving.
Hop in your ride and check out these five spots for an unforgettable scenic drive.
Pacific Coast Highway
Easily one of the most beautiful routes for a scenic drive in LA, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) offers a view of the coastline’s sapphire ocean. You start your cruise in Santa Monica, where you watch the pier and Ferris wheel slowly shrink in the rearview mirror as you head north towards Malibu. You make a stop at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite dive diner, Patrick’s Roadhouse, for a taste of the Governator’s eponymous breakfast. Sunglasses in place, you make your way up the glittering coast, admiring the beachside houses in the exclusive celebrity enclave of Malibu Colony.
The path through this bohemian community is a hidden oasis. After you start your scenic drive off the PCH, you turn onto the winding canyon road. You’re amazed that in a matter of minutes, you’ve left the beach behind and entered a lush, green forest of low-slung trees and hillsides covered in native plants. As you peek through the dense foliage, you get a glimpse of the chic houses that dot the landscape. When you’re ready, you take a break in the tiny collection of eclectic shops and cafes halfway through the canyon. After some high-end shopping, you jump back in your car and wind your way to the top of the canyon, which looks out over the wide-stretching San Fernando Valley.
This scenic drive is best left for after the sun dips below the skyline. You get dressed up and cruise the strip for one of the most beautiful views of LA nightlife. Start your drive at Sunset and Fairfax Boulevard and head west. As the headlights of passing cars flash by, you spot legendary comedy clubs like the Laugh Factory, as well as infamous celebrity hangouts like the Chateau Marmont and The Viper Room. A valet takes your car, and you hit The Roxy to dance the rest of the night away.
Your Wilshire Boulevard drive starts in Koreatown, so you check out the art deco-style buildings, like the Wiltern Theater. Then you head west to Miracle Mile, the strip best known as the home of Museum Row—but don’t forget to wave hello to the perpetually sinking mastodons in the bubbling tar lake at the LA Brea Tar Pits. You catch a red light in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), giving you a chance to get a glimpse of the famous rows of reclaimed street lamps that make up artist Chris Burden’s installation Urban Light. Lastly, you find a place to park so you don’t miss the bold red color and curving metallic lines of the new Petersen Automotive Museum.
Start your cruise on this bustling boulevard at Hollywood and Vine, making your way west as you pass the architecturally stunning Hollywood & Highland center. The people watching is at its finest along the stretch of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where costumed performers take pictures and put on shows. You ogle the facades and glittering lights of the El Capitan Theatre and the Dolby Theater, where the Academy Awards are held. Now you turn back as you arrive at La Brea and find a spot to park—time to fit your hands into the stars molds at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre!