Planning a Los Angeles to Las Vegas Road Trip
Whether you live in Los Angeles or are there for a visit, it’s almost obligatory that you hit the road for a bit of debauchery in Sin City. Downtown Las Vegas is about a four-hour drive from Los Angeles and welcomes Californians all year who are looking to let off some steam. Although four hours in a car might sound like a lot, there are more than enough distractions along the way to make it a fun diversion in itself!
Here are all the best stops if you’re planning a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas:
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch
When we say “tree ranch” here, we guarantee it’s not what you’re expecting. Created in 2000 by Elmer Long, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is a stunning collection of colorful bottles that is definitely an Instagram-worthy stop and a selfie-lovers dream. The wine, beer, sauce, dressing, and other types of bottles have been cleaned and strategically arranged to form “trees” that catch the light in really beautiful and unique ways. You’ll find this urban forest in Oro Grande, CA, about an hour and 30 minutes from Los Angeles.
Ready for a pit stop while on your way to Vegas? Look no further! Barstow Station is right off I-15 and has everything you might be craving, including a McDonald’s, Panda Express, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, souvenirs, clothing, munchies, handmade taffy, and not to mention, clean bathrooms! It’s also a unique building constructed from old train dining cars strung together. And at this point during your road trip, you still have about 100 miles to go before you see the Las Vegas lights, so you may want to stock up.
Western America Railroad Museum
Another hidden gem you’ll find in Barstow is the Western America Railroad Museum. Museums may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but who doesn’t love a free attraction? For no admission fee, you can check out an impressive collection of classic trains and railroad artifacts that were part of the big population and economic boom in the southwest. If you need to stretch your legs, why not look at some awesome railroad cars while you do!
Outlets at Barstow
If you feel like doing a little discount shopping but want to avoid the crowds at the outlets in Las Vegas, the Barstow outlets are an excellent option. They have all the most popular stores and designer brands with deeply discounted prices. And if you realize you forgot to pack something, like a bathing suit, sandals, or a hat for the pool, why not swing by the Outlets at Bartow? Check out their complete store directory and make some room in the trunk for your shopping spree haul.
Calico Ghost Town
Looking for a little piece of the “Old West” while on your way to Las Vegas? Calico Ghost Town in Yermo is the place to be. It was an active silver mining town that was abandoned in the 1890s, leaving the original structures and equipment behind. The ghost town was eventually purchased by Walter Knott (Californians might recognize this name because his family is also behind the popular Knott’s Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, CA), who restored many of the buildings to their former glory. It’s only about a 10 minutes drive from the I-15 taking the Daggett-Yermo Rd./Ghost Town Rd. exit.
Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner
Not far from Calico Ghost Town is the famous Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner. You’ve been seeing signs for it since you got to San Bernardino, so you might as well stop for a bite to eat and see what all the fuss is about. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed! On top of the 1950s nostalgia, sweet-talking servers, and convenient road trip location, they also have an excellent comfort food menu and big portions that will get you through the next leg of your journey.
Also in Yermo, Eddie World is hard to miss, and you’ll see why. The giant ice cream cone storefront is a recognizable marker to know you have about two hours left before you get to Las Vegas. If you have a sweet tooth, you’re not going to want to pass this place up. They have everything from specialty candies to every flavor of ice cream you can imagine! For those who want a little more, Eddie World also has artisan pizzas, gourmet sandwiches, sushi, fruit and salad bowls, hummus platters, yogurt, and more.
If you can take this opportunity to see the abandoned Lake Dolores Waterpark, you definitely should. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience to be able to walk through the empty (and almost eerie) theme park that was officially shut down in 2004. Many of the waterslides, attractions, and buildings still stand (most are covered in graffiti) but you can get a fascinating look at the slow “decomposing” process before the structures are gone for good. Check it out during the day, but skip it if you’re doing a night trip as it’s not well-lit.
We couldn’t skip over this oddly named street you’re sure to spot off the I-15 just before you get to Baker, CA. So, how did it get its name? Curtis Springer bought the land in the 1940s and developed a health resort there, which included a beautiful castle and mineral-rich natural springs. Legend has it that he named it Zzyzx because he wanted it to be the very last word in the dictionary. After some decades, the Bureau of Land Management took over and now the California State University system owns part of it for desert research efforts. It is open to the public, and you can still see the beautiful lake and wildlife.
World’s Tallest Thermometer
You know you’re almost to Las Vegas when you see the world’s tallest thermometer in Baker! And, yes, it’s a real thermometer that reads the actual temperature. This landmark means you have about an hour and a half left in your journey before you can hit the casino floor. This is also an excellent place to stop to grab a bite to eat at one of the many fast-food chains there.
Well, you’ve officially made it to Nevada once you cross over the border and enter Primm. This fun little stop has plenty to see and do if you don’t mind taking a side trip before making your way to Las Vegas. There are several gas stations, casinos here where you can try your luck, the Primm outlets for a little shopping, a number of restaurants with reasonable pricing, and attractions worth seeing—including a rollercoaster at Buffalo Bill’s and Bonnie and Clyde’s Death Car.
Terrible’s Road House
Terrible’s Road House in Jean, NV, is more than just any old gas station. It is the largest Chevron station in the country! Here you’ll find 96 gas pumps and a massive convenience store selling discounted souvenirs, coffee, drinks, snacks, and food, including a White Castle. This is a great place to stock up on cold beer, liquor, or wine before getting to Las Vegas. They even have a moonshine still if you’re open to something different! You’ll also have access to huge bathrooms that are always sparkling clean.
Seven Magic Mountains
If you’ve ever driven to Las Vegas from Los Angeles before, you’ll have noticed these vibrantly colored boulders strategically stacked in columns just east of the I-15 freeway before you get to Las Vegas. Seven Magic Mountains is a unique desert art installation made by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone in 2016. Although it was only supposed to be up for two years, the Bureau of Land Management has extended the artwork’s permit due to its popularity. See them up close before they’re gone forever!
Heading to Downtown Las Vegas?
When you get to Sin City, it can be overwhelming to know where to stay. If you’re looking for the hottest hotel packages and the best place to stay in Las Vegas, Downtown Grand has you covered. Right in the heart of downtown and only blocks away from all the action on Fremont Street, Fremont East District, Downtown Container Park, and the Las Vegas Arts District, you know you’re in for a good time at Downtown Grand. Safe travels!