Millions of people come out to Los Angeles to soak in the sun, gawk at the glitz and glam, and start epic road trips across the American west. There are tons of cities within driving distance of LA: San Diego, San Francisco, and of course: Las Vegas. The four-hour drive from LA to Vegas is just about as exciting as the cities themselves. There’s mountains, the Mojave desert, and long, desolate open roads you’ve only seen in movies. There are also plenty of pit stops along the way: relics of Route 66, kitschy Americana, and dazzling natural wonders. If you’re making the road trip from the City of Angels to Sin City, here are our top picks of where to go.
Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale sculpture located in the middle of the Ivanpah Valley 10 miles south of Las Vegas. This totally free art exhibit is seven colorful rock towers each over 30 feet high. The backdrop of the desert makes the large, neon-painted rocks pop out against the landscape. The work itself is a representation of the natural and the artificial, its location deliberately planned right off of Interstate 15.
Spending lots of time alone out in the desert certainly gives you a unique perspective. Maybe that’s what inspired artist Elmer Long to build a sprawling art gallery comprised of thousands of glass bottles. They’re all arranged in dizzying towers and sometimes attached to other desert junk like hubcaps, wagon wheels, and old cars. When the desert wind rolls though, the whole ranch whistles with eerie excitement. Bottletree Ranch is a great mix of western kitsch and genuine artistry. And oh yeah, it’s perfect for “The ‘Gram”.
Route 66 Museum
The California Route 66 Museum is a 4,500 square foot building dedicated to the heyday of “The Mother Road”. From replicas of old diners, to classic VW Love Buses, to neon signs and other throwback memorabilia, the California Route 66 Museum is a must-see for any American history buff.
EddieWorld is far more appealing than the initial name may seem. That’s because EddieWorld is filled with candy, tasty food, and roadside refreshments the whole family will love. If road tripping has you jonesing for some tasty treats, definitely pull over to sample anything from wood-fired pizza to sushi. Yes, you can trust the sushi. EddieWorld is the only roadside restaurant and gas stop that employs an executive chef with over 20 years of experience in fine dining. If that’s not enough to get you to stop, the candyland inspired architecture makes for a sweet photo-op.
Calico Ghost Town
We can’t guarantee you’ll see a ghost here, but Calico Ghost Town is still worth a stop on your road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Located about halfway between LA and Las Vegas in San Bernardino County, this old mining town is awfully exciting despite no one living there (well, no one alive at least). Take one of three ghost tours, or visit the old Maggie Mine, one of the only old silver mines in the country that is still safe for guests to experience.
Valley of Fire State Park
Just off Interstate-15 a little northwest of the Grand Canyon is Valley of Fire State Park, a vast landscape of bright red Aztec sandstone intermixed with gray and tan limestone rock formations. Stroll among the geologic spires, crags, and cliffs, and you can see petrified wood and ancient petroglyphs from native people who called the Valley of Fire home thousands of years ago. Every year the park hosts an Atlatl competition, where contestants see how good they are with ancient spears. Stop by for an afternoon or spend the night at one of the 72 campsites within the park. Just avoid visiting during the middle of the summer.
Some old person said “It’s the journey, not the destination”, but when you’re road tripping from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (or back), it’s both! Not only are both cities buzzing with energy and excitement, but the trip along I-15 is filled with natural and unnatural beauty. Whether it’s a throwback to the golden era of the open road, or a bunch of huge neon-colored rocks in the middle of the desert, a road trip from LA to Las Vegas will put you in the right mindset to live big when you finally reach the Vegas strip.