The Scenic Overlook

Getting the most out of L.A.’s most famous stretch of road

Photograph by Ed Rhodes/Alamy

When Mulholland Drive opened in the early 1920s to connect the mountains to the sea, the Los Angeles Times believed it would “take its place as one of the scenic highways of the world.” It has. Get off the 405 at the Mulholland exit and head east, setting your trip odometer to zero. The rolling green lawns and sculpture garden at the American Jewish University (0.3 miles) will be looking humble in a minute. Skip the first of several overlooks (1.3) for the one at Stone Canyon (1.9), which features a paved curving path that leads to a vista of reservoir, parkland, and the Pacific. Back on the road, cross Beverly Glen (2.5) and watch for the gated Mulholland Estates on your left; earlier this year it made headlines when paramedics were called there to aid resident Charlie Sheen. The entrance to Beverly Park, the gated community at 13100 Mulholland (4.1), leads to the homes of Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Sylvester Stallone, Sumner Redstone, and Haim Saban. At Coldwater Canyon Drive, stop in at TreePeople (5.0) for a hike. To return to Mulholland, take a quick right on Coldwater. The Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook (6.9) affords beautiful views of Fryman Canyon, while the popular Universal City Overlook (8.9) takes in the Universal lot and its “Black Tower” of executive office suites. A bend in the road (9.4) marks the approach to director Quentin Tarantino’s compound. The northern entrance to Runyon Canyon (10.2) is a favorite of hikers and dog walkers. All that twisting and turning has a big payoff. At the Hollywood Bowl Overlook (10.9), pull into the small parking lot and climb the 67 steps for a panorama of the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory to the east and the Hollywood Bowl, Capitol Records, and downtown to the southeast (pictured). Tour guides claim you can see the rooftops of Ben Stiller’s and Ice-T’s homes, but when you’ve got all this, who cares? 

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town