Scenic Drives Near Los Angeles

The COVID-19 pandemic makes it a little difficult to go sightseeing. I’ve been itching to get out of the house, though, so I took some advice from Time Out and drove down a few of the scenic roads that surround Los Angeles.

The first road we checked out was Palos Verdes Drive that starts in Redondo Beach and ends in San Pedro. The majority of the ride travels through expensive real estate, but it occasionally opens up so you can see the ocean. There are a few dedicated lookout spots along the way that offer some great views of the cliffs and coves. The scenery doesn’t compete with what you can see along the Pacific Coast Highway, but it’s always nice to see new angles of the coastline:

View of Bluff Cove from a Palos Verdes lookout

Time Out recommended ending at the Korean Friendship Bell, even though it’s on Paseo Del Mar and not Palos Verdes Drive proper. Due to the coronavirus, the parking lot was closed, but we were able to park on the street and hike up to the bell:

The Korean Bell of Friendship

The next day, we took Mulholland Drive that starts in the Hollywood Hills and ends in San Vicente Mountain Park in the west. This drive was a bit of a letdown. It’s a nauseatingly windy road where you’ll probably get stuck behind at least one tour bus. The most popular viewpoint, the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook, was also closed. There are many other lookouts along the way that point northwards, but in normal air conditions, you’re just gonna see a smoggy city:

View of Northern LA from a Mulholland Drive lookout

For the third and final scenic drive, we headed farther north into the Angeles National Forest via the Angeles Crest Highway. Like Mulholland Drive, this is a windy road with several overlooks. The difference being that you’re up in the mountains where it’s easy to forget that a gigantic city is just a few minutes away. These aren’t the most glamorous mountains, of course, but I’ll take what I can get during a pandemic:

View from the Angeles Crest Highway

The Time Out website suggested driving to the Mount Wilson Observatory, but all of their facilities are closed due to COVID. I didn’t want to drive in and out on the same road, so we turned at the Clear Creek Information Center that’s halfway to the Mt. Wilson turnoff and took Big Tujunga Canyon Road back home. Honestly, Tujunga was a more peaceful and interesting ride, and you can actually see some water thanks to the Tujunga Reservoir:

Overlooking the Tujunga Dam

All of these drives were about a 2-hour round trip starting from central LA. I don’t think any of them were must-sees, though, but given the state of the world right now, it was nice to be outside for a few hours and look at something besides a computer screen.

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