California is known for its stunning views. The varied terrain covers nearly every form of ecosystem, and no matter your favorite type of scenery, this state seems to have it all. Of course, California’s populous nature means that it has great routes through every city, mountain, and landscape you could possibly want to visit.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we at Fast Lane Drive do. Today we’re taking a look at five of our top local driving routes found throughout Southern California.
5 of the Best Southern California Driving Routes
Take a ride with us as we explore some of the best routes, right here in our backyard!
5. Mulholland Drive
We’re starting our Top Five list with a classic Southern California route: Mulholland Drive. Mulholland is named after William Mulholland, the engineer responsible for bringing water to Los Angeles and, therefore, all of its popularity. You’ll drive past the Hollywood Bowl Overlook as you go into the hills, giving you a panoramic sight of the whole city and even the Hollywood Bowl.
The jaw-dropping views include mansions nestled into the mountains’ cliffs and huge homes owned by Los Angeles’ elite and famous. To catch the breathtaking scenery that passes through the Santa Monica Mountains, begin at Cahuenga Boulevard near the 101. It’s one of the shorter scenic routes at about 21 miles and ends just west of Encino Hills Drive. However, you can continue to take it to Mulholland Highway, which leads into Pacific Coast Highway — the latter of which we touch on below.
4. Kings Canyon
In spot number four is Kings Canyon. This route begins in Dunlap, CA and ends in Kanawyers, CA. The Kings Canyon scenic route is 56 miles that weave between the Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park. Because it’s so well encapsulated by nature, it’s best to drive this one during warmer months: Spring, Summer, and Fall.
You’ll pass jagged cliffs, incredible granite formations, and massive Sequoia trees that are decades (if not centuries) old. You can even catch some unbelievable canyon views at Panoramic Point. If 56 miles seems a little too short for you, worry not! Kings Canyon offers a lot of side routes if you want to go higher up into the mountains, or even stop to trek to the top of a trail for a scenic picture.
3. Rim of the World Scenic Byway
Rim of the World is our number 3 scenic route, beginning in Phelan, CA. It’s a long 100 miles to its end in Mentone, CA. This byway passes through the San Bernardino Mountains, and the roads go along steep terrain.
At the top of the mountains, you’ll be able to see Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake from above. If you catch the mountains at the right time of day and season, you’ll certainly see where it gets its namesake from: fog rising from the ground below the roads’ cliffs will make it feel like you’re driving through the clouds.
2. Pacific Coast Highway
Classic and coastal, Pacific Coast Highway is the hallmark of California scenic drives. It’s also known as Highway 1, and it stretches a whopping 655 miles to connect Northern California and Southern California. The ocean is to your side the entire way, and you’ll cross paths with numerous state parks. Wildlife and mountainous views are everywhere, and this drive encompasses all things California. It’s definitely the best trip to show someone new in town around.
Traveling PCH should be part of your must-sees, and the best part about this drive is that you certainly don’t have to do all 655 miles, or at least not at once! Because the whole drive is stunningly beautiful, you can pick it up at any point and enjoy the road for as long as you decide to take it.
1. Big Sur Coast
Of all the Southern California scenic routes, traveling along Big Sur is our number one. While technically a part of PCH, this specific stretch brings beauty like no other drive, and it’s certainly worth setting it apart as its own trip.
The trip begins in Monterey, CA and goes all the way to San Luis Obispo, but you’ll be stopping before that to take in the scenery – we guarantee it. The drive is 141 miles of California coastline, with high cliff views that overlook crashing waves and white sand. Being part of California, the Big Sur Coast has the state’s signature always-beautiful weather. Along the ride, you’ll find the charming village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, towering lighthouses, and unique wildlife like sea lions, sea otters, and exquisite birds.
With so many exciting places to see from behind the wheel, joining an exclusive car club can be your way to check these drives and more off of your bucket list. Don’t miss out on our next adventure, and get in on the action by joining Fast Lane Drive’s exclusive car club.
You can join by simply completing the form on our website, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. When you join an exclusive car club, it’s more than cars; it’s about the adventure. And these scenic routes are sure to provide the adventure you’re looking for.