Fun Stops on the Drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas

The long stretch of road between LA and Vegas is basically a rite of passage for many a 21-year-old Californian. It takes about 4 and half hours (if you go the speed limit) and many believe it is just desolate desert with nothing to do. While a lot of the travelers just want the drive to be fast, there is actually a lot to do on the way. Use this post to make your next drive more of an adventure and less of a race. These stops are in order of the drive starting from Los Angeles.

vegas

Since most people like to get out of the city before they make their first stop, this post purposely starts at the top of the Cajon Pass. Here begins your adventure.

 The Mormon Rocks  

DCIM100MEDIA

Right off the freeway as you approach the top of the pass, these rocks will immediately catch your eye because of their size. You don’t have to travel very far off the road to see them because they dot the landscape for miles. The main visitor center and the walk are about 5 minutes off the freeway, and the one-mile loop gives you a lot of great views of the massive sandstone giants.

The trail begins at the Mormon Rocks fire station located on Highway 138 just west of Interstate 15.

Route 66 from Victorville to Barstow

Route 66

If you have a time, I suggest you get off on exit 153a near D Street and take old Route 66 up from Victorville to Barstow. On this drive, you will see old diners, my favorite antique shop, an ostrich farm and the diamond of the road: the Bottletree Ranch.

Read about the trip here.

Bottletree Ranch

Bottletree Ranch 5

This ode to independent art is a beautiful and odd stop that you will not forget. Elmer’s collection of metal trees full of old bottles and other vintage things is fun for a stroll or a photographic adventure. One of my favorite spots on the whole drive.

Read about it here.

Old Woman Meteorite (second largest in the USA) and Original Del Taco

old woman meteorite

Within half a mile of each other, you have both the oldest meteorite in the USA and the original Del Taco. It will depend on your personality as to which you are more excited about, but you can always do both! I usually pick the meteorite and venture into the children’s museum to see it. This stop will not take very long but it’s cool to see at least.

Meteorite – Inside the Desert Discovery Center in Barstow

Original Del Taco – Located at 401 N 1st Ave Barstow, CA 92311

Train Car McDonald’s

train car mcdonalds

If the last two were not your thing, you could stop at the train car on the last exit in Barstow. This spot is on Route 66 as well, and it provides a fun stop for the whole family with lots to see and eat. Keep in mind that it is popular so it’s always packed. Basically, it is an old railroad station that is now a series of stores and food options.

Located at 1611 E Main St Barstow, CA 92311

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town 27

This commercial ghost town is not my favorite stop but is worth visiting at least once. There are a lot of great photo opportunities here, and there is exploring for the whole family in this historic town. The highlight is a long mining tunnel you can walk through for a fee.

Read about it here

Peggy Sue’s Diner

Peggy Sue Diner 1

If you are looking for a place to eat, this is a great stop. They have all the food you would expect from a diner such as hamburgers and apple pie. When you finish eating, there is a large garden outside complete with metal dinosaurs and a shop where you can buy 1950-60s memorabilia.

Read about it here.

Jenny Rose Sign

jenny rose

As made famous by a Sheryl Crow album cover, many people love to stop at this sign for a photo. The old restaurant is no longer there, but for many it is a great picture to take.

Located at 35863 Ghost Town Rd, Yermo, CA 92398

Mojave National Preserve

Lava Tube 3

While this is pretty far for a short trip, I have to say something about the preserve because it is the third largest national park in the United States and is literally full of adventures. Here are the closest ones to the highway (although neither are very close).

Zzyzx Road

Zzyzx Road 6

Everyone who has driven to Vegas has seen this road, but few actually get off on it. I got off to visit, and it is a pretty trippy place. You drive about 5 miles down half paved half dirt road, and there is an enormous dry salt lake bed and an old compound that has its own awesome history. This is a great stop once, but it is strange to be down there with literally no one else so it may not be your thing.

Read about Zzyzx Road here.

Baker

Vintage Worlds tallest thermomter

The town of Baker is a must stop, especially since there has been nothing for the last 60 miles anyway. There are a lot of great stops here that you can see in a short span. I recommend the statue to the discoverer of the North Pole, a strawberry shake from Mad Greek, Beef Jerky from Alien Jerky and then a picture of the world’s largest thermometer.

Check out all the stops here.

Death Valley

If you have an extra day you can head into Death Valley from here as well. I wouldn’t recommend rushing it though so if you don’t have at least 24 hours then go to the park at a different time. Here is a video I made on how to spend 24 hours in the park.

Valley Wells Rest Stop

valley wells

I know it is strange to call out a rest stop, but there isn’t much left in California on this drive. This rest stop is cool because it has a ton of history for the surrounding area and a “Welcome to California” sign. It is one of the nicest rest stops I have ever been to.

Lotto Shop

Literally the last place you can stop on this drive (in California) is the lottery shop. This shop on the outskirt of Primm is a stones throw from the border and was put in specifically on the California side for the Nevada residents to buy California lottery tickets when the pot is big. I have heard the lines can get pretty long, but I am not much of a lottery player, so I am not positive.

Video

Here is a video I made of all these stops and more on the way from LA to Las Vegas.

So there you have it, my list of stops on the drive to Vegas. Hopefully, this helps you have more of an adventure on your next drive, and at least if you lose all your money when you are there you can see something fun on the way home. Feel free to comment anything I left off below.

Support the Site

If you found this post helpful, consider booking your hotel in Las Vegas or LA via this link. Doing this will give me a percentage of the sale that I can use to keep the site running and providing information for an awesome time exploring California.

Interested in supporting this blog?

This blog is simply a hobby and labor of love for me. If you have enjoyed the posts consider sharing it with your friends. I want as many people as possible to explore this state and you can help by letting them know about all of the great spots!

Subscribe to the mailing list for a weekly posts recap!

About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • Ahhh, Zzyzx, so very odd, yet wierdly compelling.

    • Ya I agree, it is a unique place for sure.

      • jared

        My now retired grandfather was a professor of microbiology at CSU northridge and I was lucky enough to be taken along on some of the university trips. To actually stay in and use the compound was quite the privilege.

        • That sounds like it would be awesome!

        • whatever_dude

          That furniture bolted to the floors is trippy, isn’t it?

          I love this place. Apparently, the wack-job who built it accidentally saved a pup-fish species when he took some from a spring to populate his pond…then the spring was destroyed and the pupfish would have been extinct.

          • Thanks for the comment, that is crazy that he actually saved a species like you said.

  • Anne

    Thanks josh doing an r.v trip leaving L.A. and love your suggestions fun things to see along the way. The Aussie Grey Nomads

    • Thanks for the comment, have fun on the drive!

  • Thanks for the comment, glad you enjoyed the drive!

  • karlos

    Hi. My family and I are coming over on holiday next August 2015 from England to drive this route. We were inspired by your web site. We are going to visit most of the attractions you have suggested on route to las Vegas. Thank you.

    • Thank you for the kind words, there is so much awesome stuff to see in California. Hopefully the site helps you make the most of your time!

  • Helen

    Thanks Josh, we are also doing this trip next year in August 2015. have found your information very helpful in planning our trip.

    • Thanks for the comment, I hope you have a good time in Cali when you get here!

  • Mingming Qi

    i am planning a road trip from LA to LV, have been looking for fun stops. Thank you so much.Are these stops could be found in GPS?

    • Most of the spots should be able to be found in GPS with the address. Let me know if any do not pull up though and I can provide better directions to it.

  • lillle

    Hello. My and my fam planing this route nex feb. And i wonder howe long is this route in just the driving time? 🙂
    Regard Monica from Norway 🙂

    • If you drove straight from LA to Vegas it would take about 3 and a half hours. So depending on the stops you make you can easily add an extra hour or two or make it a full day trip. Let me know if you have more questions!

  • damon

    hey josh, I am flying to vegas in may…Id like to go see the Hollywood sign….its a 3 hour drive without stopping?? please email me at cassedaydamon@yahoo.com Id love to get more info fromya

    • I would say it is probably a minimum of 3 and a half hours without stopping and without traffic. Driving into that area of LA can have a decent amount of traffic too. Feel free to email me through the contact page if you have more questions.

  • mark

    i recommend going to the Kelso Depot. Its an renovated train depot that now serves as a visitor center for the mojave preserve its a good 35 miles away from baker on kelbaker rd but its worth the drive. Sometimes I take I40 to kelbaker road and drive through Kelso to baker. The kelso dunes and the granite mountains are a beautiful sight

    • Great suggestion, I agree Kelso Depot is a fun stop!

  • Jens S.

    I love this blog! We’ll be in CA for the first time this summer and it gave us a lot of great ideas, especially for the ride from LA to Vegas. We’ll be staying at Redondo Beach and then drive to Vegas in the morning with some of the stops you suggested. We have all day for that but I don’t wanna be stuck in traffic for several hours. So, any tips regarding driving through LA on a Tuesday morning?

    • Since it is a weekday I would not leave between 6 and 8 as there is a lot of traffic for people going to work. Usually after 8-9 you should be OK, but LA is really always up in the air for traffic!

      • Jens S.

        Thank you, that’s good to know 🙂

        By the way, do you happen to know if Peggy Sue’s Diner is still open? Their website is down but I can’t find any news about it online either way.

  • Monik

    Hi where is the best route to go to Las Vegas from LA. Im going to sleep in LA, but I want something close to freeway and no to far from Vegas… Your suggestions please

    • The most used route from LA is to take the 10 E to the 605 N to the 210 E to the 15 N. Then you take the 15 pretty much all the way there. The stops on this page pretty much all start on the 15 freeway. Also, I would recommend checking Google Maps when it is closer to your time for leaving as that will give you a better idea of traffic and may change the route a little bit.

  • Danielle Read

    Hey Josh ! Coming to visit Oct this year from Aus ! The $6 bus ride from LA to Las Vegas looks too good to pass up but now I’m torn !

    • $6 is hard to pass up as that would be a nice relaxing ride and save you a lot of money!

  • Mike

    Hi, great post, I am visiting on honeymoon in July and driving from Vegas to LA, I assume it is the same route and all of the stops are accessible? Thanks

    • Yes, all of the stops should be accessible other then the Route 66 part from Victorville to Barstow would be opposite.

  • Nancy

    Hi Josh! So we will be driving from Riverside to LV and I get carsick 🙁 are there alot of twists and turns? and what route do you suggest? Thank you! 🙂

    • The main drive itself does not have many twists and turns but getting off on some of the spots like Route 66 can be a more curvy road.

  • bharathi

    thanks much for this post; is the Death Valley on the way to Las Vegas from Los angeles? and what about the Big bear mountain top view> does it come along the route you have described above

    • Death Valley is technically on the way but you would probably need a half day minimum to see any of the sites as it is off the main road a decent way. Big Bear is not on the way and would probably be an hour or two each way off the main road.

      • bharathi

        thank you Josh. You are awesome to take your time and reply to my post. really appreciate it.

  • Lisa Sommers

    Hi Josh

    My husband and I came home from Vegas. We saw your blog and decided to stop at a few locations on our way home. We stopped in Baker, then went on Zzyzx Rd to visit the mineral springs, took route 66, and went to bottle tree ranch. Which bottle tree ranch was also our favorite, lots to see. We met the owner Elmer which we already knew what he looked like because of the video you posted. He said Mc Donalds recently came out and did some interviews with him. He also said he had just planted a new tree that day see pic below. Anyway just wanted to thank you for a fun drive home made the time go by quickly.

    • Thanks so much for the comment! I love hearing about successful trips based on the blog posts. I agree that the bottle tree ranch is an amazing spot, one that I always love going back to see!

  • Jayda

    Hey!If I was to stop at about 6 stops that you’ve listed for about 30-45 minutes how long would the drive take roughly?

    • The drive to vegas is about 4 hours without stopping so it totally depends on how long you are at each place as some take longer to get to like Zzyzzx.

  • Eirk Petriccoli

    @pvgjosh:disqus Hey man, I’m going on my trip tomorrow to Vegas, if I want to visit the Mormon Rocks, Bottle tree Ranch and Calico Ghost town, in what order should I visit them? Are they too far from each other? Thanks a lot.

    • This post is written from South to North, so if you are heading from LA to Vegas then you should be able to follow the list down.

  • Anna Newman

    This is fab! I was like, ugh no I gotta do that drive, now Im like – hell yeah I can’t wait!

    • Haha that’s awesome! Hope you have fun!

      • Anna Newman

        Thanks 🙂 If you have any other tips around the area that would be great. Im British, and even though I’ve been several times before Im never gunna find alllllll the little awesome bits unless I talk to guys like you 🙂

  • mastersrage

    The ostrich farm has a new owner now and one guy came out and told us to leave politely unless we want to buy ostrich eggs from them. So good to stay away from the farm.

    • Thanks for the update!

  • Heather Sanchez

    You should consider including stops on the Nevada side. The roller coaster at Primm is a quick entertainment spot. The Pioneer Saloon is a great little stop just before vegas. It’s one of the oldest places in the area. I’m not sure what else is long the way, but I’m sure there’s some cool freebies.

    I have done this drive hundreds of times, but I enjoyed some of the stops I was unaware of, like Zzyzzx Rd. Thanks for sharing.

    • That is a really good idea, I will have to add a view next time I make the drive. Thanks for the suggestion and feel free to comment more here.

  • Steve Blackburn

    Thanks for your suggestions! We had an amazing time on our journey back from Vegas to LA, visiting most of your recommendations. The bottle ranch is the highlight and Elmer the owner was really friendly!

    • Thanks for the comment, I am so glad it helped you have a great adventure, and I agree Elmer is awesome!

  • Thanks for the comment and for telling people about the site! It looks like a fun Route 66 motel!

  • Kirst

    Hi, I’ve never driven in America, I’m Australian. Will I find it hard navigating the roads? I’m a good driver cheers

    • The road from LA to Las Vegas is an open road through the desert the entire way. I doubt you should have too much trouble with driving it. A good GPS or phone service will help you find these spots easier when on the road though.

  • Rachele Hurley

    I came across your blog researching my trip. We stopped at the bottle ranch and actually got to mee Elmer. Super cool guy. This whole blog was great. We did a few others off of it too. Thanks a bunch!!!

    • Thanks for the comment, I am glad you got to meet Elmer, he is great!

  • Claire Reid

    This was interesting especially as I am in th U.K. and thinking about visiting , thank you x

    • Thanks for the comment and glad the post was interesting!

  • Nick

    Hi Josh, this is a good article for those of us visiting from the other side of the World, thanks. I noticed one mistake after reading a bit more online about the Old Woman Meteorite. It is the second largest in the USA, not the World. Have a look at how big the others are! Thanks again for the information. The Bottletree Ranch looks good.

    • Thanks for the comment and good catch! I have updated the post.

  • Gideon

    Hi Josh .. thanks so much for nice information. Cant wait to visit this summer holiday in US.

    • Sweet Have fun and let me know how it goes!

  • Stan Malkov

    Great information!!! 🙂 Thank you, Josh!

    • No problem, thanks for the comment!

  • Jolyn Teo

    Hi! Can this be done if we were to drive to LA from Vegas? If not, what’s the best and most interesting route to do so?

    • Yep, it should be the same if you are taking the 15 freeway, just in reverse order.

  • GooliZAP

    What’s the name of your favorite antique shop??

    • The one I like to go to is called Antique Station in Oro Grande

  • Vladimir Bokhonskyy

    awesome places, I would also suggest a really cool spot I found recently on the way to Vegas from OC. Its called the Pioneer Saloon and its 30 mins from Vegas in Goodsprings. Its like a 100 year old saloon in a tiny ghost town with a huge history (a lot of movies were shot there like Fear and loathing) and it has an insanely good burger and good beer on tap

    • Thanks for the comment and the suggestion! I will be sure to check it out next time I make the drive!

  • Erin Lipsitz

    Thanks for these great ideas! My hubby and I are venturing out to Vegas later this week and will make an effort to visit some of these places on our way. Triple digits may keep us from a few, but we are looking forward to the effort.

    • Have fun! Make sure to bring a lot of water and definitely skip some of the desert ones if it is hot!

  • Monica

    Thanks Josh for this post! On our recent trip to Utah from Orange County we visited Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch and Zzyzx Road. So totally worth the stops to break your journey to Las Vegas! Elmer’s was an interesting spot and Zzyzx was strange and so desolate yet compelling.

    • Thanks for the comment, those are both great choices to visit!

  • The family just recently did this trip and we hit up quite a few of your recommendations. Loved Elmers Bottle Tree Ranch. We got to speak to Elmer himself and the kids got their picture with him. He was telling us that film crews have been out there a lot lately. He will even be in a movie.
    Zzyzx was totally cool too.

    • Thanks for the comment and for sharing your photos, looks like you had a great time!

  • Chad Quayle

    Thanks for your site! We visited the majority of these finds on our recent trip from LA to Vegas. It was definitely a more interesting drive than on the way out which was all interstates. Wanted to see Death Valley as well, but we were a bit pressed for time, so we’ll just have to do it again sometime!

    • Thanks for the comment and I am glad the post was helpful! Yea, I would recommend not trying to fit Death Valley in, but consider spending a day or two in the fall there as it is a great place to explore when it is not hot.

  • Eva Ivanova

    Thank you so very much for the information . I am a trip addict myself just started exploring more and mo9re and it is the thing that makes me so darn happy!:) I have thoughts of buying a handy vehicle and hit the road forever and ever:) I am planing on trip starting bay area going to LA, San Diego and Vegas- goal grand canyon any advices are welcomed . I am a sucker for unusual road treasures unseen by the tourist eyes;) You are a dream partner adventurer! 🙂 put me in your back pocket :))) Thank you!!
    Eva

  • Ann Elvin

    I am really enjoying reading your info. We are driving from San Francisco to Oceanside then in to Vegas. We have 3 weeks so want to take in as much as pos. I’m saving lots of recommendations of yours. We leave the UK on 8th September. Thanks for making so informative

    • No problem, glad the content was helpful! Have fun on your trip!

  • Shelly Smith

    So glad I came across this article. We are driving from Las Vegas to Ventura for the first time ever as we are from Nebraska. Really thankful for the tips and we will check several of these out in just a little under three weeks from today! 🙂

    • No problem, have fun and let me know what your favorite stop was!

  • donjah

    So glad I found this site, have been going to Vegas/Laughlin for 15 years and have never stopped at any of these locations… going on Tuesday, and intend to stop at all mentioned sites for the first time… can’t wait… thank you, P.S. sure the 5 year old will love the dinosaurs.

    • Thanks for the comment, hope its a fun trip!

  • Adrian Brooks Collins

    Thanks, now I have a frame of reference for the 10/16/16 trip…

    • No problem, thanks for the comment!

  • Katrina Worthington-Greville

    Thanks for a very informative blog. My husband and I are doing a road trip Las Vegas to San Francisco and I’m researching ideas. 😄 Katrina UK

    • No problem, I hope you find some good spots!

  • jillian

    I just hit the Rock A Hula abandoned water park… I must say my children enjoyed it more than I thought and even more than Calico. It was well worth the pit stop and my family had a blast walking through the abandoned buildings and sliding down the remaining slides.

  • Riendeau

    Ty !
    Question if we are driving from LV to LA
    is the Mohave desert far out of the way ? Ty
    Great post btw

    • It depends on what part of the Mojave you are looking to explore. I would say most places are at least an hour of the way, such as the main attractions like the Kelso Dunes.

  • Mike

    I’m looking to make the drive to Las Vegas from Orange County California. I’m looking to leave 2 days after Christmas. Should I expect a more than 7hr drive? Also I have 2 younger boys and after reading this blog i’my excited but afraid of being stranded somewhere with no help. Any other suggestions?

    • Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately, I am not sure how the traffic will be from the OC to Vegas during that time period, so I can’t really comment on that. As far as being stranded, consider visiting spots more on the main road and not Zzyzzx or the Mojave. For example, Elmers Bottle Tree Ranch is a great stop that is near a main road, as are Calico and Baker.

  • Daniel Farid

    Thank you for your tips we are doing the drive next year but curious is there many gas stations along the way thanks

    • There are a few along the way, but I would plan on stopping for gas at either Barstow or Baker as those are the best spots to fill up.

  • Catherine Downey

    Great travel tips. Thanks I am doing the drive from la to vegas later this year. How long roughly is the trip above not going through death valley. Thanks.

    • Depending on how long you take at each spot, you are looking at probably an additional 4-5 hours added to the drive to visit most of these spots. That would not include the Mojave though which requires a lot more time. The other ones that can be longer are Calico, driving the Route 66 portion to Bottletree Ranch and Zzyzx Road.

  • Gerry

    Hi Josh,
    First would like to thank you for helping so many people on this topic. SO very nice of you!
    We plan visiting CA n April. Drive from SF to LA to LV (xion and Bryce Canyons) back to SF in about 6 days time.
    My questions: (LA to LV stretch)
    1. How will be weather in Death Valley during April? Hope not scarily hot !
    1. What is the best route from LA to LV if I need to pass via Death Valley and are there places to stay overnight in Death Valley?
    2. I also see Sequoia National Forest . IS it worth visiting it.
    3. Where is it worth to stay overnight on the way.

    Greatly appreciate your feedback Josh!

    Geri

    • Thanks for the comment.
      1. It is less hot then during the summer for sure, but it is hard to know how hot it will be until it gets closer.
      2. Most people take Highway 160 or 95 to get from Death Valley Junction back to las Vegas. You can stay in the hotel in Furnace Creek or in Death Valley Junction but those are pretty much the only options without camping.
      3. Sequoia would be pretty out of your way based on this itinerary so it may be hard for you to fit in.
      4. I am not sure what are referring to for this last question.

      Hope that helps!

  • Elesha Burkart

    Hi, we are coming from Australia in April 2017 and hoping to drive LV to Santa Monica to see some of route 66. Thanks so much for the tips on what else to see, we’ll be taking 2 days one night and you’ve given us some good ideas. Can you suggest a good place to stop over night (with kids)? THanks

    • Thanks for the comment, you are looking at a place to stop overnight between Los Angeles and Las Vegas?

      • Elesha Burkart

        yes thanks from las vegas to los angeles just one night

        • The city that is in the middle would be Barstow. I have not stayed here personally but that might be a place you would want to consider.

  • Allison Locke

    Hi can you leave vegas and head to california and see these things and be back to Vegas in same day

    • You could do that, but it would be a lot of driving and a very long day, so it might not be worth it. It would depend on how much you want to see something specifically.

  • Katie Hamilton

    This is amazing! Thank you! I plan on booking a hotel through this site. I figured I’d stay in Vegas since it is my half way point but I’m not really a fan of Vegas. Any other suggestions near there that might be more quaint/historic/interesting? Now I need a list of stops from LV to SLC…

  • Stepphan Oli Houghton

    Ty for info as planning same trip in Sept and this inf is gold 🙂

    • No problem, thanks for the comment!

  • Suzy Iggi

    Does this take long? To hit all the stops?

    • Check out the video I made, I did all of that in one day, but it was a really long day haha.