SCENIC DRIVES: Bring your sunscreen and sunglasses and pick a
drive or two. Los Angeles cannot be "done" in a day but there are
many ways to "do" a day, a weekend or week in LA you’ll never
forget. Remember not to try to cover too many miles during
commute hours as the freeway system is too crowded then to be
Instead, organize your adventures with the
scenic drives on our map. In addition to these drives, while in LA, consider a stop in Pasadena
to enjoy the attractive downtown, take architectural tours or visit the
Norton Simon Museum (art). The nearby Huntington Library in San
Marino also is famous for its gardens and art collection.
Downtown LA has attractions for visitors too – Olvera Street, the
Library, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Staples Center – but if
time is limited, head elsewhere.
One more thing to remember – for LA’s most popular tours and
attractions, book tickets well ahead of your visit, especially during
the summer and holidays.
Drive 1: Hollywood to Beverly Hills to Griffith Park
Start at 101 and take the Vine exit to Hollywood Blvd. Turn right
and follow it to Mann’s Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame. Hollywood
is probably not exactly what you expected but judge for yourself and
when you find a stretch to explore, park and enjoy. Take a left to pick
up Sunset Boulevard and another left to head towards Griffith Park via
Western Ave. Turn right on Los Feliz Blvd. to the entrances to the park
on the left. This is a huge urban park with the LA Zoo, Griffith
Observatory, and the Greek Theatre (and a great deal more) to draw you
You can immerse yourself in studio tours nearby – Universal Studios,
Warner Bros., and NBC are close.Sony Picture Studios is in
Culver City near the 405 and 10.
Take Forest Lawn, bear left at Barham Blvd., left on Cahuenga and right
onto Mulholland Dr. – head west to follow this famous curvy foothill
road – hopefully with the top down and dark sunglasses on for the full
LA affect. Stay on it or, for a truly memorable experience, go
past 405 freeway, turning left on Sepulveda heading south to visit the
Getty Center. Oil money has created an oasis of art, light,
gardens and incredible views you won’t want to leave. The ride up
and back on the tram is half the fun.
Back on Sepulveda, turn left onto Sunset Blvd. again to see the real
90210, Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. If you have a map to stars’
homes, well, you’re set. Otherwise, keep your eyes open and
marvel at the expansive homes. Head towards Rodeo Drive (a
right turn) to see where the stars shop and dine. It helps to
dress up if you want to blend in or feel really welcome in these
If you are now ready for a visual experience of another sort, go to the
nearby LA County Museum of Art – huge, world-class museum with both
permanent and temporary collections. Take a left on Wilshire
Blvd. – the museum is on the left, just after Fairfax.
Drive 2: Los Angeles Beaches: Santa Monica to Redondo
Each beach and beach town has a personality so try a string of them
to find your favorites. Start by taking the I-10 westward to
Santa Monica. Head to the Pier an its many shops, restaurants and
rides. Enjoy the beach scene or just walk the bluff to take
in the views. Head eastward into town to the Third Street
Promenade where every block is loaded with interesting boutiques and
restaurants. Weekends get especially interesting on these
car-free streets as locals and visitors gather to shop and watch street
performers of all types.
Go south to Venice Beach for a very different set of performers and
shopkeepers amid the bodybuilders, in-line skaters, market artists and
beach goers. A funky atmosphere loaded with local characters and
street hawkers prevails. A bit seedy after dark. To head
south, take Venice Blvd. back to Highway 1 (Lincoln Blvd.) to go around
Take Rosecrans Ave. to reach Manhattan Beach and its distinctive pier. Think Beach Boys, surfing and Coppertone.
Just south, Hermosa Beach offers easy strolling, lifeguards for
swimmers, a playground, shops and parking on nearby streets.
Redondo State Beach – two miles of lovely sand for strolling, swimming, jogging or surfing.
Drive 3: Disneyland/Anaheim to Long Beach and Orange Coast Beaches
Anahiem and the surrounding areas do not appear on any scenic tours but
the pull here is clear – amusement park heaven – Disneyland, Knott’s
Theme Park and a whole constellation of attractions designed to
Families could spend a day or a week here and
never venture beyond the parks and local attractions.
But then you remember the Pacific Ocean – that’s a big pull, too.W hen
it is time to get out and explore again, LA-style, Long Beach and the
Orange Coast are perfect.
Take 22 to Long Beach, one of the most active ports in the U.S., where
there are three big draws for visitors.The Queen Mary, a
long-retired 1936 cruise ship is a great tour – at Pier J, across from
the Queen’s Marketplace shops and Shoreline Village. Y ou can
actually rent rooms and spend the night.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is easy to spot and a great place to spend
a few hours – consider buying tickets in advance during the summer
The last big draw to Long Beach is a sidetrip:
SIDETRIP: From Long Beach, take a catamaran to Santa
Catalina Island for a few hours or a few days.The town of Avalon
is so compact cars are not necessary (or available) but golf carts,
buses and bikes are everywhere. There are glass-bottom boat
tours, horse trails, beaches, botanic gardens, and buffalo herds
(courtesy of Hollywood). The marina and the casino are famous,
the town is unique and most of the island is a reserve to help protect
the indigenous species. If you want to stay over, book ahead.
From Long Beach, follow Ocean Blvd. eastward to return to Highway 1 to
hop from one great beach town to another starting at Seal Beach, then
Huntington Beach (famous to surfers). Prices for food and lodging
generally rise as you head south.
Stay on 1 to explore elegant Newport Beach with
its Balboa Island in the bay. Laguna Beach follows, the artiest
of the Orange Coast bunch, hugged by hills and tres chic. If you
make it as far as Dana Point, head inland to check out the famous
mission, San Juan Capistrano, where the swallows arrive every year on