Exploring Southern California’s Scenic Back Roads

Embark on a breathtaking journey through Southern California’s scenic back roads, where history meets stunning landscapes. Before the bustling freeways dominated the region, these winding routes were the lifelines of transportation. Spanning approximately 100 miles from Calabasas to Los Olivos, this picturesque adventure takes you through charming towns, iconic landmarks, and a tapestry of citrus groves, mountains, canyons, and farmland. Along the way, discover cultural gems like the Plummer House/Leonis Adobe, immerse yourself in the heritage of the Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center, and marvel at the classic cars of the Mullin Automotive Museum. Indulge in the flavors of Boccali’s Pizza and Pasta and be captivated by the natural beauty of Lake Casitas and the Ojai Valley Overlook. Finally, find solace in Los Olivos, a quaint town lined with Victorian houses and renowned wineries. On these unforgettable back roads, time slows down, allowing you to savor every moment of the journey.

Exploring Southern Californias Scenic Back Roads

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Route Overview

If you’re looking for a scenic and historic alternative to the busy freeways of Southern California, then exploring the network of back roads is the perfect choice for you. These back roads were once the main routes before the freeways were built in the 1940s, and they offer a unique and unforgettable travel experience. One popular route that is approximately 100 miles long and passes through various towns and landmarks is the route from Calabasas to Los Olivos.

Length and Towns

The route from Calabasas to Los Olivos covers a distance of approximately 100 miles. As you journey along this scenic route, you will pass through several charming towns, each with its own unique character and attractions. Some of the notable towns along the way include Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Ojai, and Santa Paula.

Exploring Southern Californias Scenic Back Roads

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Attractions Along the Route

As you travel along the back roads from Calabasas to Los Olivos, you’ll have the opportunity to explore some fascinating attractions. One of the highlights is the Plummer House/Leonis Adobe, a historic house in Calabasas that dates back to the 19th century. Another must-visit is the King Gillette Ranch, a stunning estate surrounded by picturesque views.

For those interested in history, make a stop at The Old Place, a vintage corner market and restaurant that has been operating for over a century. If you’re looking to learn more about the indigenous culture of the area, visit the Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center, where you can participate in guided hikes and cultural events.

Car enthusiasts will love the Mullin Automotive Museum, which showcases a stunning collection of classic and vintage cars. For those curious about the rich oil history of Southern California, the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula provides an insightful look into the region’s petroleum industry.

Nature lovers won’t want to miss the Ojai Valley Overlook, where you can take in breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valley. And when hunger strikes, make sure to stop by Boccali’s Pizza and Pasta, a beloved local eatery in Ojai known for its delicious Italian cuisine.

As you continue on your journey, take some time to visit Lake Casitas, a beautiful reservoir surrounded by scenic landscapes and offering a variety of recreational activities. And for a taste of history, make a pit stop at Cold Spring Tavern, a rustic and historic stagecoach stop dating back to the mid-19th century.

Scenic Landscapes

One of the highlights of traveling on the back roads from Calabasas to Los Olivos is the opportunity to witness the diverse and stunning landscapes of Southern California. As you drive along, you’ll pass through fragrant citrus groves, with their vibrant green trees laden with juicy oranges and lemons. The sight and scent of these groves are truly mesmerizing.

As you leave the valleys behind, you’ll find yourself surrounded by majestic mountains. The peaks rise high into the sky, offering breathtaking views and a sense of awe-inspiring beauty. These mountains provide a stunning backdrop for your journey and create a sense of serenity and tranquility.

The back roads also wind through picturesque canyons, with their rugged cliffs and winding roads. As you navigate through these canyons, you’ll feel a sense of adventure and excitement, as if you’re exploring uncharted territory.

Passing through farmland is another captivating experience along this route. The vast fields stretch out as far as the eye can see, showcasing the agricultural heritage of the region. You’ll see farmers tending to their crops, adding a touch of authenticity to your journey.

Exploring Southern Californias Scenic Back Roads

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Destination: Los Olivos

After a scenic and enjoyable drive, your final destination is the charming town of Los Olivos. This quaint town is known for its Victorian-style houses, which line its streets and create a charming and nostalgic atmosphere. Walking through the town feels like stepping back in time, with its well-preserved architecture and small-town feel.

One of the main attractions in Los Olivos is its local wineries. The town is nestled in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, which is renowned for its vineyards and wineries. Take some time to indulge in wine tasting and discover the rich flavors and craftsmanship of the local wines. Los Olivos is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the fruits of the land.

Benefits of Traveling on Back Roads

As you embark on your journey along the back roads from Calabasas to Los Olivos, you’ll quickly realize the many benefits of choosing this route over the busy freeways. One of the main advantages is the slower pace of travel. Unlike the fast-paced freeways, where everyone is in a hurry, the back roads allow you to slow down and truly savor the journey. You have the freedom to stop and explore at your own leisure, without the pressure of reaching your destination quickly.

Another benefit is the scenic experience that awaits you. The back roads take you through some of Southern California’s most picturesque landscapes, allowing you to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you. Whether it’s the stunning mountains, the fragrant citrus groves, or the charming farmland, each landscape offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

Traveling on the back roads also allows you to immerse yourself in the historic charm of the region. These routes were once the main highways, and they are rich in history and tradition. As you drive along, you’ll pass by historic landmarks and sites that offer a glimpse into the past. It’s like taking a journey through time, where each turn brings you closer to the stories and heritage of Southern California.

Exploring Southern Californias Scenic Back Roads

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Planning the Journey

Before you embark on your adventure along the back roads from Calabasas to Los Olivos, it’s important to plan your journey to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Mapping the route is the first step in planning your journey. Take the time to study the map and familiarize yourself with the back roads you’ll be traveling on. Plan your stops along the way, so you know where you can take breaks, explore attractions, and grab a bite to eat.

Choosing the right vehicle is also crucial for a comfortable and safe journey. While any car can navigate the back roads, opting for a vehicle with good clearance and sturdy tires is recommended, especially if you plan on venturing off the beaten path. SUVs or crossover vehicles are popular choices for this type of journey.

When packing for your trip, consider the essentials you’ll need along the way. Pack a roadmap or navigation device, extra water, snacks, a first aid kit, and any personal items you may need during your journey.

Planning for stops and meals is essential to ensure that you have a chance to refuel and take breaks along the way. Research the towns and attractions along the route and plan for meals at local restaurants or pack a picnic to enjoy in a scenic spot.

It’s also important to consider road conditions when planning your journey. Back roads can sometimes be narrow or winding, so ensure that you’re prepared for these conditions and drive attentively and responsibly.

Safety Tips

As with any road trip, safety should be a top priority when traveling on the back roads from Calabasas to Los Olivos. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

Maintaining awareness is crucial when driving on the back roads. Pay attention to the road conditions, traffic, and any potential hazards. Keep an eye out for pedestrians, cyclists, and wildlife that may be sharing the road with you.

Driving responsibly is also important for your safety and the safety of others on the road. Obey the speed limits and road signs, and avoid distractions such as texting or using your phone while driving. Maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you and use your signals to indicate your intentions.

Emergency preparedness is another important aspect of road safety. Make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone with you and know the emergency numbers to call in case of an accident or breakdown. Consider carrying a roadside assistance kit with essentials like a spare tire, jack, and jumper cables.

Recommended Back Roads in Southern California

If you’re eager to explore more of Southern California’s scenic back roads, here are some other routes worth considering:

Route 150: Ojai to Santa Paula – This route takes you through the beautiful Ojai Valley and offers breathtaking views of the mountains and lush landscapes.

Ortega Highway: San Juan Capistrano to Lake Elsinore – Travel through the majestic Cleveland National Forest and experience the dramatic scenery of the canyons and hillsides.

Palomar Mountain Loop: Pauma Valley to Aguanga – This scenic loop takes you up Palomar Mountain, where you can witness stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Joshua Tree Parkway: Yucca Valley to Joshua Tree – Explore the unique desert landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the open road.

Big Bear Scenic Byway: Big Bear Lake to Fawnskin – Discover the beauty of the San Bernardino Mountains and the serenity of Big Bear Lake on this picturesque route.


Embarking on a journey along the back roads from Calabasas to Los Olivos is a truly special experience. From the charming towns and historic landmarks to the breathtaking landscapes and local wineries, every aspect of this route offers something unique and memorable. So, slow down, embrace the scenic beauty, and create unforgettable travel experiences as you explore the hidden gems of Southern California.