Best Stops on an LA-Vegas Road Trip

When it comes packing up for a road trip between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, there’s no shortage of destinations to log into an itinerary. While some might find the drive a bit underwhelming and choose to stick to the standard I-15 North route, there’s incredible diversity available for those looking to get a bit more out of their five-hour journey.

After all, traveling to the mythic gaming capital of Vegas is a dream trip for many—whether for gaming, for a big concert, or even for sports. It’s like stepping outside of time and, in some cases, reality for those who have never experienced the bright lights of the Vegas Strip.

 Despite the city’s pivot toward all things entertainment, gaming is still its specialty. Back in the day, men like Kirk Kerkorian and companies like MGM built the Strip around gaming culture—but even ancient humans were interested in games of strategy and luck.

In fact, archaeologists uncovered six-sided die in Iraq, which date back to ancient Mesopotamia thousands of years ago. This hints that humans may have been making pilgrimages like those from LA to Vegas even during our earliest days of civilization—so why not go off the beaten path this time around?

Keep reading for some of the top destinations between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with must-see suggestions and two honorable mentions. And don’t worry—you’ll be able to save your money for the tables in Vegas.

Don’t Miss These Stops

There are a few stops that shouldn’t be missed—even for those who have made the 290-mile journey dozens of times. Some stopovers are really just that good.

  • Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch (Oro Grande, CA): this Route 66 pitstop is exactly as advertised, which means visitors are treated to lanes of empty bottles stacked on top of metal pipes. The result sort of resembles trees, which is where the name comes from. While it might sound underwhelming, it’s a beautiful art project that contrasts well with the desert lands around Oro Grande. Up until 2019, owner Elmer Long was still around to guide people through the jungle.
  • Calico Ghost Town (Calico, CA): this ghost town continues to be a popular attraction for those interested in the long-lost days of the Wild West. The area’s remaining structures were renovated in the 1950s, which means it’s safe to explore the buildings. The ghost town also includes a few small stores which sell souvenirs and snacks.
  • Seven Magic Mountains (Las Vegas, NV): this art installation is located on the outskirts of Vegas, which makes it an easy stopover for those entering or leaving the city. The project, by artist Ugo Rondinone, includes several colorful pillars. While it might seem simplistic, like the tree bottle ranch, the project allows the beauty of the arid desert to shine.

multi-colored rocks on snow

 Honorable Mentions

Not every trip to and from Vegas will allow for longer stopovers. Those who are short on time can log these destinations in for their next trip—just be sure not to forget!

  • Peggy Sue’s Diner (Yermo, CA): while there’s no shortage of Route 66 recommendations, few spots get it right every time like Peggy Sue’s. The location is listed highly on rating sites for its kitschy decor, which stays true to the 1950s look. Meanwhile, the menu is good enough to keep people coming back—even if they have little interest in Americanah diners or Route 66.
  • Zzyzx Road(Mojave Desert, CA): though a nearly five-mile-long stretch in the Mojave Desert may not be enough to lure in wayward travelers, Zzyzx (pronounced zy-zex) Road is an unforgettable stretch. The spot will feel especially unique for nature-lovers who are fascinated by the American Southwest. The rural road leads to a natural springs oasis that was once a desert spa but is now used by California State University.


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