Are you ready to embark on an adventurous, memorable cross-country road trip? From the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to the world-renowned Las Vegas Strip, Los Angeles to Las Vegas is a classic American excursion that can’t be missed. As you drive across California and southern Nevada, there are countless sights and attractions worth stopping for — but where should you start?
Here, I’ll give you the rundown on everything from must-see places like Calico Ghost Town to lesser-known trails like Lake Mead so that when it comes time for your next trip down south, all that’s left for you to do is hit the open road.
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- Is it cheaper to fly or drive to Las Vegas from Los Angeles?
- How long is the Los Angeles to Las Vegas drive?
- What are the ten best road-trip stops between Los Angeles and Las Vegas?
- Final thoughts
Is it cheaper to fly or drive to Las Vegas from Los Angeles?
Several factors come into play when deciding which mode of transportation to get from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. While driving can take up to five hours, depending on traffic, a quick search shows that direct flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) could get you to Sin City within the hour. Various companies, like Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines, offer nonstop flights.
Flying is undoubtedly more convenient and can also be more cost-effective with cheap flights along the route. It’s worth researching and weighing all of your options, as sometimes you can find nonstop flights for less than the cost of gas for your car.
However, although you can opt for the las vegas flight route and find the cheapest flights available, the most fun and exciting alternative is a round-trip drive. I always opt for road trips when the distance is not painfully long (less than 3000 miles) and countries are not separated by the ocean (like when I had to fly to Guam from Korea, for example).
How long is the Los Angeles to Las Vegas drive?
Embarking on the round-trip drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is exciting. Not only do you get to soak up all of the beautiful scenery, but it’s also a relatively cheap way to travel (make sure you remember to fill up the tank of your rental car).
The round trip distance between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is roughly 422 miles – making it just over 5 hours of driving without traffic – which may be off-putting for some unless you decide to break your journey with some pit stops on route – which is precisely what I did back in 2019.
Renting a car from Los Angeles is easy; you can drop it at Harry Reid international airport or Mccarran international airport if you decide to fly from Las Vegas, either back to LA or elsewhere.
What are the ten best road-trip stops between Los Angeles and Las Vegas?
Mountain San Antonio (Mount Baldy)
Towering majestically at a staggering 10,064 feet, Mountain San Antonio in California (commonly known as Mount Baldy) is an inspiring sight that’s visible for dozens of miles. Its unique presence brings light to the otherwise vast landscape as it sits surrounded by clouds and wild winds on the horizon. On clear days, visitors will find themselves in awe of its dazzling color alpine setting and seemingly ageless massifs that stand above all else. Framed with breathtaking lakes and rivers, San Antonio is sure to leave adventurers feeling like they are standing at the edge of the world as they take in its raw beauty.
California Route 66 Museum
Located in the beautiful city of Victorville, California, the Route 66 Museum is the perfect place to explore the iconic adventures of America’s cross-country Highway. The museum showcases an extensive collection of artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs documenting life on and along the Route.
From vintage signs to a restored Deuce Coupe from 1934, this amazing repository tells a story of fun and discovery along the open road. Stop by for a captivating history lesson about one of the most famous roads in American highways as you explore its many exhibits, displays, and activities; you’re sure to come away feeling inspired.
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch
The one-of-a-kind quirky roadside attraction as unique as Las Vegas itself is Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. Located along Highway 66 south of Barstow, California, the ranch covers 5 acres. It is full of 10’ tall metal sculptures framed with discarded glass bottles collecting the ever-changing desert colors created by the sun’s reflection.
The entire property is an art gallery covered in various large colorful creations made from recycled materials like car hoods and ribbons created from flattened aluminum cans giving it a whimsical atmosphere attracting both locals and tourists. Elmer, who is the caretaker of this unique ranch, has made every effort to preserve his masterpiece for current and future generations to appreciate its eccentric charm.
Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner
Peggy Sues 50’s Diner is a must-see stop for anyone driving along Route 66. Since it opened its doors in 1967, the diner has been a beloved destination for hungry road trippers and vintage enthusiasts alike.
Not only does Peggy Sue’s offer classic American fast food dishes like juicy burgers and crunchy fries, even extraordinary milkshakes- they also bring back an era of old-style motor culture with a 50s jukebox right in the middle of their eatery.
For those looking to experience a slice of nostalgia while taking a break from the winding highways, there’s no better place than Peggy Sue’s Old-Fashioned 50’s Diner.
Calico Ghost Town Campground
Located 32 miles north of Barstow train station, Calico Ghost Town is completely abandoned and provides a unique glimpse into the mining culture that defined the Wild West. In 1881, silver was discovered in Calico, sending droves of prospective miners to the deserted foothills.
The town quickly grew to a population of 1,200 and boasted over 500 mines in operation – but its boom was short-lived. Within 15 years, a drop in metal prices caused the miners to pack up and move away from Calico, leaving behind many artifacts from this era.
Today, visitors can explore these old structures and step back in time to savor what life must have been like during a time when those seeking fortunes flocked from all over. Afterward, check out the local gift shop where you can buy souvenirs such as custom saddles and leather belts that are handmade by real cowboys.
Whether you’re looking for a fun visit with the family or an educational experience about American history, Calico Ghost Town is sure to provide something memorable.
Zzyzx road: An Oasis in the desert
Traversing the desert and winding through the mountains of California lies a road that is much more mysterious than it appears. Zzyzx Road, located in the Mojave Desert near the California–Nevada border, was named after a spa retreat founded by Curtis Howe Springer, who hoped to use it for natural healing.
Notoriously known for its lack of businesses along its 10-mile length and having been previously owned by the federal government before being transferred to the State of California.
In recent years, Kings College has made efforts to bring life back into this desert locale – from developing a music resort and recording studio at the old spa site to enhancing academic opportunities with plans for a research center and greenhouses. Visiting this place is an unforgettable and pleasant experience that will make for great stories for years yet to come.
If you’re on the hunt for a short but unforgettable detour as part of your California road trip, look no further than the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave desert.
With their golden sand and magnificent view (votes for sunset time) of the mountains in the distance, these dunes transcend from simply being a touristy attraction – instead, this experience will stay with you long after you’ve packed up and gone home.
As a bonus, those who take time to explore can even try out their singing voice – Kelso Dunes’ exceptional acoustics that makes noise resonate to amazing lengths. A moment inside this awe-inspiring landscape is an absolute must-see.
Mojave National Preserve
The Mojave National Preserve, located in Southern California, is an expansive desert that offers a wide range of exciting and awe-inspiring activities for all ages. This National Preserve has some of the most diverse wildlife, scenery, and plants found anywhere in America.
Visitors can enjoy star-gazing away from the light pollution of larger cities or take advantage of the miles upon miles of desert trails ripe with outdoor recreation and sightseeing opportunities.
Not only do visitors get to experience a vast array of biological intricate ecosystems, but they also get to witness the rich cultural history embedded in this region, like Route 66. With plenty of places to explore, like canyons, mountains, and sand dunes, The Mojave National Preserve gives you a chance to reconnect with nature while giving you plenty of adventurous activities as well.
Seven Magic Mountains
Ready for the most instagrammable spot of your road trip? Seven Magic Mountains is an outdoor art installation located near Las Vegas, Nevada. It consists of seven thirty-two-foot towers of multi-colored balanced boulders ranging between two and three stories high.
Each tower is encircled with up to seven rocks in various hues of blue, orange, yellow, and beige, creating an eye-catching display of color against the desolate desert landscape. Located in Jean Dry Lake, these man-made surrealist rock formations are designed to blend into the surrounding terrain and interact with the area’s natural geography.
Visitors to Seven Magic Mountains can admire this unique sculpture from a distance or explore its rock formations up close. The art piece offers a breathtaking visual experience and encourages viewers to contemplate their relationship with nature in unexpected ways.
River Mountains Loop Trail
The River Mountains Loop Trail is an excellent spot for outdoor recreation in the Las Vegas area. Spanning close to forty miles, this beautiful trail follows a loop path around the namesake River Mountains.
There are a lot of options for outdoor activities, like hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. The trails are clearly marked and well maintained, making them suitable for all levels, from beginners to experienced outdoors people.
I craved to explore that area by bike, so we stopped to rent our bicycles at a place called “All Mountain Cyclery” and biked along Hoover Dam. The route is quite hardcore if you’re not fit enough -my body was sore and sunburnt the next day, but the experience was so worth it.
With stunning views of lake Mead and plenty of places to rest and manifest calmness in the beauty of nature, the River Mountains Loop Trail is a fantastic spot for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Traveling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas by car is a great way to see some fantastic scenery. The spots mentioned between these two cities are definitely worth stopping at.
The journey can be more rewarding than last-minute flights, especially when you can explore around and not rush between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. From Barstow to Hoover Dam, the places mentioned in this article are worth visiting,
So, the next time you plan a road trip, add them to your itinerary. You won’t regret it.