The California Coast’s Most Stunning Drives

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Is there anything more iconic than a Southern California road trip? 

Yes, it seems like Southern California really has it all. From winding coastal roads that snake past sandy beaches and million-dollar mansions, to driver-focused mountain passes that are within a short drive of one of the busiest metropolitan areas in the world.

One of the best things about living in Southern California is the perpetually great weather, and that gives car-crazy Californians the opportunity to get out and see the best of the Golden State all year round.

So, what are the best drives in Southern California? Let’s get into it. 

San Gabriel National Mountains

Located within a 1-hour drive of most of Southern California, the San Gabriel Mountains are dotted with quaint mountain towns, stunning highways, and dramatic vistas. 

Hikers will find many great spots to enjoy everything from a light stroll to a cardio blasting hike to elevations of over 10,000 feet. At the very North end of the San Gabriel Mountains, epic Vasquez Rocks County Park beckons to hikers of all skill levels. This site is especially notable because everything from Star Trek to The Lone Ranger and The Twilight zone has been filmed at this very location. Hardcore hikers will enjoy spots like the Mount Baldy Summit hike or Strawberry Peak. 

If hiking isn’t enough, travelers looking for extreme adventure can venture off the highway for a 10-mile round trip trek to the iconic spot known as the Bridge To Nowhere, where you can actually go bungee jumping out over an epic canyon from a bridge that was built in 1936. Snow lovers can also partake in winter activities at the beautiful Mount Baldy Village and Mt. Baldy Resort from November to March. 

All this within a 2-hour drive of downtown Los Angeles? You bet. It’s fantastic.

Morning view of Mt Lukens Truck Trail fire road and Mt Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena and Los Angeles California.

Angeles Crest Scenic Byway

Sure, there are many incredible roads in Southern California but few combine technical corners and sheer thrills with absolute beauty quite like the Angeles Crest Scenic Byway. 

This technical road (Highway 2) snakes along and over the San Gabriel Mountains all the way from La Cañada Flintridge, to the high desert off Highway 138. Along the way, you’ll find steep elevation changes and plenty of technical corners that make this a favorite for both two-wheel and four-wheel adventures. Elevation starts around 1500 feet in La Cañada and climbs all the way to over 7000 feet at Dawsons Saddle. This not only makes the highway one of the highest in Southern California but one of the highest in the entire state. 

Angeles National Forest in California West of the Cloudburst Summit

Must-see sites along the way include the iconic Mt. Wilson observatory, which houses a massive 100-foot telescope that is free to visit and experience by intrepid stargazers. The deep pool and towering falls at Switzer Falls is a reasonably easy hike that will make you forget for a minute that you’re in the mega-metropolis of Los Angeles. Further down the road, the quaint mountain town of Wrightwood is a great place to stop for breakfast or some local shopping. 

If you’re going to tackle this road, make sure you stay within the limits of your vehicle and your nerves. Over the years, there have been dozens of accidents off this highway, typically at the hands of people who push their vehicles too far, so please, proceed with caution. 

Slow down and enjoy it!

Pacific Coast Highway

No matter where you drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, it feels like you’re traversing a dream.

One side is the vast, and wild Pacific Ocean that meets the splendor of sandy beaches that stretch for miles. On the other side, an epic metropolis bustles with energy and excitement. You’ll see everything from dozens of bicycle riders out on a Sunday ride, to supercars and classic cars rolling down PCH – that’s really the beauty of it all. This is a spot for everyone to meet, mingle, and be seen. 

If you want a classically mellow Southern California PCH experience, roll up to Malibu and start your morning with a stop at the local Cars & Coffee, often frequented by names like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. Malibu is famous for its blend of nature and star power, making it one of the most desirable places in SoCal. Looking for hustle and bustle? Head up to Santa Monica for dozens of vibrant shops and restaurants on every corner of PCH. 

It’s hard to pick an entry point for PCH but we’d recommend starting your journey North around Malibu and working your way Southbound towards Rancho Palos Verdes.

SoCal Was Made For Supercars

There’s no question about it, SoCal is a flowing metropolis full of amazing roads that simply begs to be driven behind the wheel of a full-blown supercar. 

Whether you want to cruise down Pacific Coast Highway with your exhaust barking and wailing, or you want to tackle technical roads like Angeles Crest Highway, a supercar makes every one of these experiences just a bit more special. Even traffic jams can be just that much cooler behind the wheel of a bonafide supercar. 

Open Road by Xtreme Xperience hand picks some of the finest supercars in the world and puts you behind the wheel in iconic locations like Southern California. We’ll take you to locations that offer both amazing natural splendor, and cosmopolitan glory. You’ll have a chance to pilot multiple supercars from brands like Porsche and Mercedes-Benz on a guided tour like no other. 

What could be better than that?