Winding its way through the Santa Monica Mountains, Mulholland Highway is a scenic route named after William Mulholland, constructed in the 1920s and billed as the highway “to take Angelinos from the city to the ocean”.
Today the stretch of legendary highway is the playground of the rich and famous and the auto enthusiast, with their sports cars and motorcycles.
Starting in Calabasas, the first stop along the way is the 588-acre King Gillette Ranch situated in the heart of the Malibu Creek Watershed.
Offering an unblemished view of California’s rich history, the park features Gillette’s historic Spanish Colonial Revival style mansion and other structures that were part of the original landscape, which today provides opportunity for hiking bicycling, photography and picnicking.
Just a few miles up the highway, travelers will enter an area known as “The Three Magical Miles” of Mulholland Highway.
Cornell Winery is in the center of the Magical Miles area and is the perfect place to stop for food and a good bottle of wine while taking in some of the local art that adorns its interior. There is also a wine tasting room.
Adjacent to the winery is Peter Strauss Ranch, which was once inhabited by the Chumash Indians before becoming part of Rancho Las Virgenes after the Spanish colonization.
In 1976, actor Peter Strauss purchased the property then later sold the ranch to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which today allows visitors to come enjoy its natural and cultural history.
Further to the east, is Malibou Lake and Paramount Ranch, both located in the 2700-acre Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The ranch was once used to make movies and television westerns and is now open for visitors to stroll through what remains of its western town facade.
Malibou Lake is nearby, although private, you can drive along its border where travelers can sneak a peek at the many multimillion dollar estates that line its shoreline.
From the lake, the highway veers south and winds its way through a section called the “snake” — a short 21-turn section just above one of the most famous motorcyclist and biker hangouts in the world.
Known as the Rock Store, this Mecca of motorized madness is the one the best places to drink, eat and enjoy some the coolest machinery known to man.
Weekend warriors and Hollywood’s famous rub elbows here on any given weekend, as the Rock Store’s parking lot, is filled with interesting and exotic motorcycles (and a few cars), whether of the sport variety or the American V-Twin chopper type.
Finally, along the final stretch of Mulholland Highway heading toward the Pacific Ocean is the 10-acre Connemara Ranch, which provides some of southern California’s best horseback riding.
Hour-and-a-half trail rides are offered to those interested and do not require any prior experience.
Mulholland Highway includes all of the perfect trimmings for a great family excursion. So, toss the kids in the car and head out for a relaxing day in the country that won’t break the bank.
Sometimes the journey is about more than the destination, it’s about the stops along the way.
So the next time you’re headed down the 20-mile stretch of Mulholland Highway from Calabasas to Leo Carrillo State Beach, be sure to make a few stops along the way.