If there’s one thing visitors and residents don’t do enough in Southern California, it’s taking a scenic drive along Angeles Crest Highway. It’s a 66-mile long road that goes through the Angeles National Forest is about a 1.5 to 2 hour non-stop drive, depending on how fast the drive is. Of course, it’s definitely worth it to stop at the turnouts and appreciate the views. Mountains are perhaps the most prominent feature of Southern California’s landscape, so this is absolutely something worth doing. The highway starts in the La Canada-Flintridge area, which is about 20 minutes or so north of Downtown Los Angeles. Feel free to bring food and water. There are picnic areas along the way, as well as a restaurant called Newcombs Ranch, frequented by locals, particularly bicyclists and motorcyclists on the weekends.
Nestled near the intersection of the 2 and 210 freeways in the foothills, Descanso Gardens is a gem of a botanical garden in the La Canada-Flintridge area. This 160-acre area (which, according to membership services, is more or less the size of Disneyland in Anaheim) is a picturesque botanical garden with a variety of vegetation, a Japanese garden and teahouse, an oak forest, a little museum, a historic house on site that’s wonderful to walk through, and even a tram for kids and adults alike. The gardens are a pleasant escape from the busy city. It costs $9 for adult admission, and you can become a member with unlimited visits for a whole year starting at just $70. (The latter will provide two people with membership.) A cafe is also on the grounds so you don’t have to leave for a drink or bite to eat.