Exploring Southern California often requires lots of time on humdrum freeways with little windshield appeal. However, plenty of scenic side trips can make the hours spent behind the wheel some of the best parts of your journey. Here are 5 road trip ideas for your SoCal adventure.
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On its own, the 27 miles of gorgeous Malibu coastline makes this stretch of CA-1 one of the top drives in Southern California. Factor in side trips up lush canyons into the pretty Santa Monica Mountains, and you’ll do well. Set aside at least 2-3 hours of drive time during any Malibu sojourn.
By adding only 20 minutes of drive time along CA-1 between Long Beach and Redondo Beach, you’ll enjoy stunning coastal views including seaside bluffs, the Point Vicente Lighthouse, and both the Catalina and Channel Islands on the horizon.
This side trip treats travelers to the scenic Rim of the World Scenic Byway, carved into the San Bernardino Mountains. The slopes are often so steep that views can stretch 180-degrees from top to bottom as well as left to right. Time your trip for sunset, when the colorful, breathtaking vistas are their best around Skyforest.
Death Valley National Park
Ripe with badlands hikes and scenic viewpoints, Death Valley’s striking scenery will keep your jaw dropped as you cruise the long miles within the huge park. The wide, flat valley along Badwater Basin Road is ringed by jagged mountain peaks.
Pacific Coast Highway
The prettiest stretch of coastal CA-1 begins north of San Luis Obispo and runs along the central coast to San Simeon, passing monolithic Morro Rock and continuing toward the beaches and coastal bluffs below Hearst Castle.
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