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 four and a half hours (if you go the speed limit), and many believe it is just a desolate desert with nothing to do. While a lot of travelers simply want the drive to be fast, there is actually a lot to do on the way if you have the time to explore. Use this post to make your next drive more of an adventure and less of a race. These stops are in order of the trip starting from Los Angeles.
- 270 miles
- 4.5 hours at normal speed
- Be sure to research the operating hours of any of the places you want to visit
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
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 walking area 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
If you have 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, and the most popular spot on the drive, the Bottletree Ranch.
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. Update 2021: I went by and it was not open. It is still really cool from the outside but I am not sure what the current status of this place is after the passing of Elmer.
Route 66 Museum
Located in the old train station in Barstow, the Route 66 Museum is a great stop when it is open (Usually Friday – Sunday, 10 AM – 4 PM). You can learn more about the historic route here, and there are lots of trains you can check out outside of the building as well.
Location – 681 N 1st Ave, Barstow, CA 92311
Old Woman Meteorite (second largest in the USA) and Original Del Taco
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
Oldest Running Del Taco
While this is not the original Del Taco location (more on that later), this is the longest-running Del Taco. They have items here that they don’t sell anywhere else, like the Barstow Taco and Carrot Cake. Check it out if you are hungry.
Located at 401 N 1st Ave Barstow, CA 92311
Large Fireman’s Helmet
Right next to the Barstow Fire District Headquarters you can see this giant fire helmet. The helmet pays tribute to the firefighters that lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
Train Car McDonald’s
If the last two were not your thing, you could stop at the train car McDonalds, 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 on the weekends. 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
They call themselves the “Disneyland of gas stations,” and it is easy to see why. This massive store has everything from ice cream and drinks to pizza and snacks. It is probably six times the size of a typical gas station. They also have a four-story ice cream sundae outside and a shrine to the Lakers basketball team inside. Be sure to make a quick stop there.
Located at 36017 Calico Rd, Yermo, CA 92398
Liberty Sculpture Park
Liberty Sculpture Park is 15 acres right next to the freeway and Eddieworld in which sculptor Weiming Chen has made many different pieces condemning the oppression of communism in China. It is well worth your time to visit and to learn more about.
Located at 37570 Yermo Rd, Yermo, CA 92398
Calico Ghost Town
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 lots of exploring for the whole family in this historic town. The highlight is a long mining tunnel you can walk through for a fee.
Peggy Sue’s Diner
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.
Jenny Rose Sign
As made famous by a Sheryl Crow album cover, 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
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 none are very close).
- Teutonia Peak, Cima Dome, and largest Joshua Tree forest
- Mojave Cross
- Kelso Depot
- Read about all of my Mojave stops here
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 interesting 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. Update 2021: This area was closed and there was no update for when it would reopen.
The town of Baker is a popular stop for gas, especially since there has been nothing for the last 60 miles of the drive. There are a lot of restaurants and fast food spots here. I recommend a strawberry shake from Mad Greek, Beef Jerky from Alien Jerky, and then a picture of the world’s largest thermometer.
If you have an extra day, you can head into Death Valley from Baker 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 Death Valley.
Valley Wells Rest Stop
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 nice because it has some history on the surrounding area and a “Welcome to California” sign.
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 stone’s 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.
These last few are all technically in Nevada but still excellent stops.
Bonny Clyde Death Car – Whiskey Petes
Inside Whiskey Pete’s casino at Stateline is this exhibit dedicated to Bonny and Clyde, complete with the car they were shot in, which still has a bunch of bullet holes. Update 2021: This exhibit has been loaned out to another museum and is no longer here. I am not sure when it will return.
Location: 100 W Primm Blvd, Primm, NV 89019
Largest Chevron in the World
Located in Jean Nevada, this Chevron gas station is the world’s largest. It is over 50,000 square feet and it has over 95 gas pumps. It is something you need to see when you are driving to Las Vegas and a good spot to get out and stretch your legs.
Location: 1 Goodsprings Rd, Jean, NV 89019
Pioneer Saloon is one of the oldest bars in Nevada (about 15 minutes off the freeway). Clark Gable and many other celebrities frequented it, and it is a good spot for food and drinks.
Location: 310 NV-161, Goodsprings, NV 89019
Seven Magic Mountains
This art installation is one you have no doubt seen before on social media. It should be here until sometime in 2022, so be sure to check it out.
Here is a video I made of all these stops and more on the way from LA to Las Vegas.
For more spots to visit outside of Vegas, check out these two recommendations and click the image to learn more.
Valley of the Fire State Park
Red Rock Canyon State Park
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 trip, 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 on anything I left off below.