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Driving to Los Angeles from Las Vegas in the United States is a must-do for any adventure seeker. Starting from the neon-lit streets of Las Vegas, otherwise known as Sin City, this scenic route takes you through the heart of the Mojave Desert.
Road trippers will witness spectacular views of its rugged landscapes and some of the most unique natural wonders in the world.
As you make your way towards Southern California, you’ll come across several small towns, quirky roadside attractions, and charming diners, each with its own story and character.
While the 280-mile journey can be made in a single day, I recommend taking your time to explore the many road trip stops along the way.
Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or a foodie, there’s something for everyone on this drive. And the best part- You can customize your itinerary based on your interests and preferences.
I’ve done this drive a few times and always enjoy exploring the kitschy Route 66 roadside attractions, seeing the stunning scenery of the many state parks just a short drive away from Las Vegas, or enjoying the luxurious oasis of Palm Springs. The mysterious Death Valley and the iconic Joshua Tree National Park also make fantastic side trips when driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
It is time to fill up your gas tank, grab a rental car (or bring your own), and get ready for an epic adventure through this enchanting corner of the United States!
Here are the best road trip stops for a Las Vegas to Los Angeles drive.
One of your first stops when leaving Las Vegas is the Hoover Dam. This landmark and tourist attraction is a true engineering marvel and a must-see stop on your Las Vegas to Los Angeles road trip.
Located on the border of Nevada and Arizona, the dam is an incredible feat of technology. Take a guided tour of the dam and learn about its history and construction, or enjoy the stunning views from the observation deck.
While you’re there, check out the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, a nearby bridge that offers even more spectacular views of the dam and the Colorado River below.
Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is a must-visit destination if you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy photo op not far from Sin City.
This colorful outdoor art installation features seven towering stacks of neon-colored boulders rising from the desert floor.
Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the installation is a playful and whimsical spot that stands starkly against the desert landscape.
Visitors can walk around the sculptures, take selfies, and appreciate the art and beauty of this unique attraction.
Red Rock Canyon
From Seven Magic Mountains, you’re just 30 minutes from the stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
This spectacular region has towering red sandstone peaks, Native American petroglyph sites, and epic canyons to explore.
If you’re swinging through and want to spend a few hours here, consider stopping at the Red Rock Canyon Visitors Center or cruising along the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive.
You could also stroll along the Red Spring Boardwalk or enjoy lunch at Willow Spring Picnic Area.
Are you looking for a taste of the Wild West? Look no further than Pioneer Saloon, one of the oldest bars in Nevada and a highlight on a Route 66 Road Trip from Arizona.
This iconic establishment in the middle of the desert has been serving drinks and food since 1913 and still retains its old-world charm and character.
Visitors can enjoy a cold beer or a whiskey, play a game of pool, enjoy live music, and learn about the saloon’s history, including its connection to the many Hollywood movies filmed here with famous stars like Clark Gable.
World’s Tallest Thermometer
Ever wondered what the temperature is like in the middle of the desert? Look no further than the World’s Tallest Thermometer in Baker, California, along Historic Route 66.
This 134-foot-tall thermometer was built in 1991 and is one of California’s most quirky and unique roadside attractions.
This giant thermometer was initially built to symbolize the “Gateway to Death Valley.” The original builder wanted to mark those scorching desert temps for visitors and visually stand out in the sky against the flat desert landscape so that people from miles around would be drawn in.
Today, you can take a photo with the thermometer and marvel at its sheer size and novelty. You can even grab a souvenir at the modern gift shop next door. The World’s Tallest Thermometer is undoubtedly a convenient and unique stop along the route from Las Vegas to Los Angeles
Mojave National Preserve
If you’re a nature lover, stopping at Mojave National Preserve in the Mojave Desert is a must-do.
This vast wilderness area is almost twice the size of nearby Joshua Tree National Park, covering over 1.6 million acres. You’ll find everything from rugged mountains and unique geological formations to the world’s largest concentration of Joshua Trees!
The preserve features stunning desert landscapes and wildlife, including mountain lions and bats.
While you’re rolling through, you can stop off for an epic hike, a night of camping, or exploration in the preserve’s many trails.
Highlights include the Kelso Dunes, the Hole-in-the-Wall rock formations, and the stunning Mitchell Caverns.
ZZyzx Road (pronounced ZYE-ZIX)
Located on the Mojave National Preserve, Zzyzx Road is marked only by a green highway sign along I-15.
This road has an interesting history and was once a haven for those looking to relax and recoup at the Mineral Springs and Health Spa. Unfortunately, the self-made millionaire lost the building when the government realized he had no legal rights to the land, and he even went to jail for IRS fraud and false advertising. The property is now home to a Mojave Desert research facility used by California State University.
The unique name comes from Health Spa’s owner Dr. Curtis Springer (who was not a doctor at all), who had a thing about always having the last word. So when looking for a name for his Health Center, he created a name that would be the last word in the dictionary, and it stuck.
If you choose to drive down ZZyzx road, make sure to steer clear of the research center, which is on private property. There is still water in the oasis which makes for terrific bird watching, and you can also hike along Lake Tuendae Loop Trail while looking at the health center ruins. It is fun to imagine what the area looked like during its heyday but if you don’t have a lot of leisure time skip this one in favor of a more exciting stop along your drive.
Joshua Tree National Park
Just an hour and a half from the Mojave National Preserve is Joshua Tree National Park (one of the most captivating national parks, IMO!). Although a little out of the way, Joshua Tree makes a great side trip while driving to LA from Las Vegas if you love hiking, bouldering or rock climbing.
If you have time to divert a little from the main route, Joshua Tree is only 40 minutes from Palm Springs, another fascinating city replete with entertainment, recreation, and a host of other great Palm Springs day trips to the surrounding area.
Looking to spend a day in Joshua Tree? Check out my ultimate guide for driving through Joshua Tree National Park for the ultimate one-day itinerary. Although one day isn’t enough to see everything, this itinerary highlights the major must-see attractions and some of my favorite things!
Death Valley National Park
While in Southern California, visiting Death Valley National Park is another great option if you have the time to divert from the route just a bit.
Visit the hottest place on earth in spring for the most enjoyable weather.
Its unique landscapes, from towering mountains, geometric salt flats and rolling sand dunes, create an amazing natural world you will love exploring.
Enjoy hikes, scenic viewpoints, wild camping, and adventurous drives down dirt roads.
Calico Ghost Town
While driving to Los Angeles from Las Vegas, step back in time and visit the Calico Ghost Town, a well-preserved former mining town from the late 1800s.
Located in the hills above Barstow, California, the town in the middle of the desert features authentic buildings, including a general store, a schoolhouse, and a saloon.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the town, pan for gold, and learn about the history of mining and life in the Wild West. Maybe you’ll even spot a ghost or two!
Peggy Sue’s 50s diner
Get your fill of classic diner fare and retro charm at Peggy Sue 50s Diner in Yermo, California. This iconic diner is the perfect place to experience the heyday of rock and roll and has been serving burgers, fries, and milkshakes since 1954.
It’s also been featured in several movies and TV shows, like Terminator 2 and Cars. The diner is decorated in classic 1950s style, with vintage booths and jukeboxes, and the menu features all the traditional diner favorites.
Be sure to save room for dessert- Peggy Sue is known for their delicious homemade pies. As a bonus, there’s also a gift shop in the diner if you want a souvenir to remember the experience- and don’t forget to stop in at the restroom, you may find shocking surprise!
Route 66 Mother Road Museum (Barstow, CA)
Learn about the history and legacy of Route 66 at the Mother Road Museum in Barstow, California. This small, informative museum features exhibits and artifacts that showcase the iconic highway’s impact on American culture and history.
If you wander its galleries, you can learn about the many quirky roadside attractions, motels, and diners that once lined the highway. You’ll also get a taste of the nostalgia and charm of the Mother Road. The museum is in the same building as the Railway Museum on N 1st Ave.
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch
Located in Oro Grande, California, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is a unique art installation showcasing over 200 bottle trees made from recycled materials and vintage signs, old cars and other novelties.
It’s certainly worth pulling over to stretch your legs and take in some of America’s quirky charm while driving to Los Angeles from Las Vegas.
Visitors can wander the winding paths and admire the colorful glass bottles and metal sculptures that make up this whimsical, eclectic garden.
The ranch was a labor of love for the now-deceased Elmer Long, who started creating the bottle trees over 20 years ago as a tribute to his family’s roots in the American Southwest (and to add a little flare along the boring stretch of road).
Today, it is one of the most fascinating, visually captivating roadside attractions in the United States!
California Route 66 Museum (Victorville, CA)
Learn about the history of the Mother Road at the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville, California, along the original historic Route 66.
The museum features revolving exhibits and artifacts that showcase the iconic highway’s impact on American culture and history.
Visitors can learn about the many quirky roadside attractions, motels, and diners that once lined the highway and get a taste of the nostalgia and charm of Route 66.
The museum also has a gift shop where visitors can pick up Route 66 memorabilia. It’s truly the perfect place to revel in that Americana charm! It is usually open Thursday- Sunday.
Mormon Rocks Viewpoint
Located just off the historic Route 66, Mormon Rocks Viewpoint is a natural landmark perfect for a quick stop on your Las Vegas to Los Angeles road trip.
These uniquely shaped rocks are known for their beautiful colors and patterns, and they make for a great photoshoot opportunity on your Las Vegas road trip.
There’s a small parking lot where you can park your car; from there, it’s a short walk to the viewpoint.
The trail is well-marked and relatively easy, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels. So whether you’re a nature enthusiast or just looking for a beautiful spot to take a break, Mormon Rocks Viewpoint is worth a stop.
Wigwam Motel (San Bernardino)
If you’re looking for a unique and quirky place to spend the night, look no further than the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino.
This motel features 20 concrete teepees, each with its own parking spot right outside.
The basic rooms are decorated with Native American-inspired decor, and they come equipped with all the modern amenities you need for a comfortable stay.
The Wigwam Motel is located right along Historic Route 66. While the road looks very different today than back then, the motel adds a bit of nostalgia to the modern shopping plazas that now line the street.
From here, it’s just a short drive from San Bernardino National Forest, where you can enjoy hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.
Rancho Cucamonga is a small city located just outside of Los Angeles, and it’s a great place to stop for lunch or a quick break on your way into the city.
The city has a charming downtown area with plenty of shops and restaurants, including the Haven City Market, a food hall with various vendors serving everything from poke bowls to tacos.
If you’re a wine lover, check out the Joseph Filippi Winery and Vineyards, which offers wine tastings and tours of their vineyards.
Rancho Cucamonga is also home to several parks and hiking trails, including the North Etiwanda Preserve, which has a waterfall and beautiful views of the San Gabriel Mountains.
The last stop along your Las Vegas to Los Angeles road trip is Santa Monica, one of California’s most iconic beach destinations.
Santa Monica–known as the end of the road along Route 66–is also known for its beautiful long beaches, palm tree-lined streets, and famous Santa Monica Pier.
Take a stroll down the pier and enjoy the carnival games, rides, and attractions, including the Pacific Park amusement park.
If you’re a foodie, check out the Santa Monica Farmers Market, which is held every Wednesday and Saturday and features fresh produce and artisanal foods.
If you are tired after a long road trip, spend time soaking up the sun, playing in the surf, or just enjoying the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.
Now that you’ve experienced driving to Los Angeles from Las Vegas, you should explore more of California by car. If you’re in the Bay Area, check out these incredible weekend getaways from San Francisco to make the most of this gorgeous coastal region!
Enjoy your drive and let me know in the comments below what your favorite road trip stop along this route is! I’ll be adding more to this list during my next Las Vegas to Los Angeles drive.