By Natasha Kayes
Only In Your State
We have said it before — one of the best ways to explore the state is by driving through it and we have so many gorgeous backroads and scenic drives here in Southern California. We have coastal highways, long winding mountain roads, desert backroads, etc.
I love driving through beautiful places, but passengers definitely have the advantage, being able to take in all the scenery without worrying about keeping an eye on the road. That’s what makes one popular scenic drive in Los Angeles so special. It has almost as many awesome overlooks as it has miles, so drivers get to pull over and enjoy all of its stunning views.
This drive is easily accessible and winds along the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains between the Los Angeles basin and the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley. At just 12 miles, you could complete it in 30 minutes to an hour without stops and depending on traffic. That leaves tons of time to stop, enjoy the views, walk around, and take some great photos.
You can start your journey at either end, but for now, we will begin at the east end where Mulholland Drive begins at Cahuenga Boulevard, right off of Highway 101 in Hollywood.
The first overlook on this drive — the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook above the Hollywood Bowl — may be the most famous. It features telescopes and epic views of downtown Los Angeles, The Hollywood sign, and on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean.
Not too far down the road is the Universal City Overlook which as the name says offers spectacular views over Universal City, Studio City, and the beautiful mountains beyond.
The iconic Mulholland Scenic Overlook is situated on the outer edge of a curve in the road which allows for the widest panoramic views of the Los Angeles suburbs. This is a particularly popular vista point for sunsets.
Pull into the large paved parking area at the Barbara A. Fine Overlook at the Summit and take the short walking trail to several unique scenic viewpoints that show off the beauty of the Hollywood Hills, Fryman Canyon, The Simi Hills, and more.
The Narrows Overlook is a unique spot along the drive with expansive views on both sides of the road. There is parking on the north side of the road and a little unpaved area to walk and enjoy the view over Beverly Hills on the south side. Be careful crossing the road – it’s a curvy road and people tend to cruise pretty fast.
A historical marker at the next overlook recognizes a couple for which it is named, Charles and Lotte Melhor, who lived in the area for over 50 years, working hard for the recognition and preservation of the natural areas and scenic overlooks along Mulholland Drive.
Stone Canyon Overlook has plenty of parking space and a little paved walking path where you can stretch your legs and take in pretty views of the Santa Monica Mountains as well as the reservoir in Stone Canyon.
At the Johnson Overlook, there is a small area for just a few cars to pull over and glance down the hillside from into the exclusive Bel Air neighborhood down into the San Fernando Valley. It is especially lovely in the evening as the suburban lights come up in the valley.
The last overlook (or the first if you decide to start at the eastern end) is The Groves Overlook, a scenic stop where you can stroll among beautiful and fragrant eucalyptus trees and experience panoramic views over the heart of the valley down below.
Whether you take this drive during early light, in the middle of a clear day, or enjoy sunset and the city lights at night, this is an epic experience everyone should enjoy at least once. Some of the overlooks have lovely sitting areas, so make sure you pack some delicious road trip snacks to enjoy with your favorite view!