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8 Epic Scenic Drives in LA

You don’t have to take a trip across the globe to enjoy beautiful scenic drives. Los Angeles and the surrounding areas are filled with beautiful forests, winding coastlines, and natural wonders as beautiful as anything else you’ll see. Some of the best views to drive to in LA may be right in your backyard.

Whether you’re a local or just want to visit the City of Angels for a little while, you’ll appreciate the beautiful scenery found along California’s southern coasts. Get out of the bustle of the city or find something to look at right in the heart of things.

What Is The Most Scenic View in Los Angeles?

It’s hard to decide what the best drive is in LA. Which one you like best depends on your personal preferences. You can find miles of coastline, breathtaking cliffs, celebrity homes, and rolling hills with beautiful wildflowers.

The state has 18 national forests made up of 20,802,641 acres. Four forests are near LA and offer amazing scenic drives for those who love nature.

It’s probably best for you to try a few and see which ones you think are the greatest! Here are the best views to drive to in LA.

1. Mulholland Drive

Winding through the foothills of Santa Monica mountains, this road appears in so many films you may feel as though you’ve been there before. As you drive along the winding road, the San Fernando Valley will stretch out before you, with Hollywood Hills in the distance, plus Getty Center and Griffith Park. Spend the day driving from Ventura to Santa Monica and take it all in.

Mulholland Scenic Parkway and Corridor is 55 miles long and was constructed in 1924. Stop at the Barbara A. Fine Overlook Summit along the way, where you’ll find a large paved area to park and take photos.

If you want a view of Downtown LA, stop at the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook. If you prefer views of the San Fernando Valley, check out Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook. If you have plenty of time, you could stop at each of the 7 scenic parkway overlooks and see the diverse landscapes of the city.

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2. Malibu

Malibu is as different from the hustle and bustle of the big city as you can imagine, but it’s a short 30-minute drive from LA to the tranquility of the area. The area features parks, beaches, and wine. You’ll spot oceanfront mansions of the rich and famous. If you want the views and photo ops of a rocky beach area, visit El Matador State Beach – but you’ll want to go prepared for a steep, rocky climb.

Are you looking for the next big wave to surf? Malibu Lagoon State Beach is where you should head for the best waves in the area. Inland, you’ll find trails that wind through canyons and beautiful waterfalls.

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3. Sunset Strip

Although there’s plenty to see within short drives of the city, you’ll also find plenty of scenic drives without ever leaving LA. One of the best views to drive to in LA is the Sunset Strip. Start at Crescent Heights and travel just under two miles to Doheny Drive.

You’ll spot nightclubs with people of all sorts coming and going, boutiques, fancy restaurants, and saloons. The drive is a slice of what LA city living is all about. It’s a kaleidoscope of people and personalities all meshing together and living in the same universe.

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4. Griffith Park

Right smack in the middle of LA’s sprawling metropolis is a beautiful park with 4,310 acres of hiking and walking trails. The roads inside the park loop around and allow you to take in the gorgeous scenery along the way. The park includes tennis courts, dog parks, play areas for children, swimming pools, and an observatory.

Griffith is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. Inside the park, you’ll find the Los Angeles Zoo. To get to the park, take Interstate 5 and exit at Crystal Springs Drive, heading west.

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5. Getty Center

If you love art, Getty Center is an excellent destination. Sitting above west Los Angeles, the architecture is phenomenal, and inside, you’ll also find paintings dating back to the 1800s. The cactus garden on the outside is a fun place to walk through. You’ll gain views of Santa Monica and see the city from a distance.

Head there in the late afternoon and watch the sunset on the tall buildings. You’ll probably get some beautiful photos to showcase your visit. One fun thing about Getty is the streetcar transportation. You’ll park at street level but then hop on a trolley to go to the top of the hill. The lack of parking on the hilltop also keeps the area undisturbed and serene.

You can make a full day of it by dining at the center, where they have a small cafe and a fine-dining restaurant. You also can grab a lunch to go or take your own picnic and eat on the lawn. Pay attention to evening events, as the Getty often hosts concerts, music festivals, and lectures. Attendance at most events, and entrance to the Getty itself, is free.

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6. Hollywood Reservoir

Looking for some beautiful inland views of LA? The Hollywood Reservoir hiking loop gives you gorgeous views of the iconic Hollywood sign. The artificial lake was formed in 1924 after the construction of the Mulholland Dam. Go just a little West of Griffith Park, and you’ll hit this fun location, so consider heading here when you go to Griffith for the day.

Most of the trails require a climb, but they’re short, such as the one-mile trail to the east of the lake. If you find the walk a bit challenging, remind yourself you’ll have amazing views of the Hollywood sign when you get to the end. You’ll also find longer trails in the park.

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7. Topanga State Park

Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, this state park offers over 36 miles of trails. As you walk, you’ll see the Pacific Ocean, beautiful live oaks, and open grassy areas.

Also located within LA city limits, you’ll find tranquility from the hustle and bustle of city life. It is the world’s largest wildland within a major city. Hikers, bikers, and equestrians flock to the area. You’ll also find interesting things such as marine fossils, earthquake faults, and volcanic intrusions.

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8. Hollywood Homes Self-Guided Tour

There are plenty of available directions available if you wish to drive past celebrity homes in LA. A lot depends on which celebrities you hope to spot or at least get a glimpse of the house they live in. Invest in an app for the easiest way to create your own tour of the stars’ homes.

Always remain courteous. You wouldn’t want someone trying to climb a fence at your house or peek inside. Use common sense as you would in any other residential area in the country, and you should be fine.

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Pro Tip: Ask Other Locals

Even if you’ve lived in Los Angeles for years, you may not know about every beautiful location around. Talk to other locals, join social media groups, and ask what you should add to your list of epic scenic drives in LA.

Spending time in and near the city allows you to regain an appreciation for just how beautiful LA is. Don’t make the mistake of not playing tourist in your own hometown! Check out every nook and cranny until you fulfill your wanderlust in your own backyard.

Looking for more LA scenic views? Check out the best ways to view the Hollywood sign!