It’s no secret that I love Las Vegas. From my bachelorette party to my 21st birthday to spontaneous road trips, I believe Sin City is one of America’s greatest cities. That’s why I want to help you plan your own adventure! If you’re coming from California, here’s how to plan an epic road trip to Las Vegas from Los Angeles!
If someone asked me to fly to Vegas or drive, I would always pick driving, hands down. (I mean, unless you offered me a private jet… anyone?)
Driving is not only an incredible way to bond and get excited for your trip ahead, but you can also see the real side of the West Coast. Filled with funky towns, Joshua trees and endless desert, California doesn’t get any more real than this.
Stop 1: Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, Oro Grande
Once you’ve left the hustle and bustle of La La Land, you’ll start to notice the other side of California: industrial, simple and surrounded by a desert wasteland. Before the long road ahead of you, you’ll drive through a series of small towns. It’s incredible to witness such a diverse culture a mere hour away from LA! The biggest shock? Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch.
Elmer’s is located on a long stretch of road north of Victorville on a strange and long road in Oro Grande. The artist literally created a forest made of old bottles, type writers, dolls and broken car parts to create this junkyard garden.
It’s a strange little garden and not popular enough to be overrun with tourists. And while it might seem a tad out of the way, I promise you will not regret the stop.
Entrance to this cool little stop is free, but Elmer does take donations (in exchange for a cool, handpicked rock)!
Stop 2: Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner, Yermo
Peggy Sue’s is a California staple and must when traveling to Las Vegas. It’s a bit old, the food is fair, and the whole vibe is a tad corny, but it’s part of the Vegas spirit! That’s what makes it so great.
Peggy Sue’s was built in 1954 with only 9 counter stools and 3 booths. Could you even imagine the type of people/customers they would have in such a lonely town in 1954? Since then, the diner’s current owners have extended and revamped the classic stop into a larger and camp location for those traveling on the road.
The jukebox shaped entrance and building is divided into two: the restaurant and diner on the right hand side, the candy and 50’s gift shop on the left. Enjoy a milkshake and some classic curly fries followed by a stroll in the gift shop.
I’ve been to Peggy Sue’s at least a dozen times. My parents would take my sisters and I to the restaurant before arriving in Vegas when we were little. We loved the strange mannequins, the retro candy and Thrifty ice cream. The weirdest part about the restaurant? The strange dinosaurs in the back of the restaurant, outside! It wouldn’t be a trip to Peggy Sue’s without a weird ass picture with them.
Stop 3: Mountain Pass
Driving down the 15 freeway feels like driving through the Old West. To your right are funny-looking joshua trees. To your left are a few cars and semi trucks, whizzing by. Ahead of you are gigantic mountains that make you suddenly wish you were more in touch with Mother Earth.
This is the perfect time to enjoy your surroundings. Pull over around Mountain Pass, Zyzzyxx or wherever the mood strikes to enjoy the scenery. Just before you hit the grade of Mountain Pass, there’s a gas station which makes for a lovely pit stop for bites and snaps.
Stop 4: Seven Magic Mountains, South Las Vegas
You’re gonna want to hurry and see this one, because it won’t last for long!
The Seven Magic Mountains is an art installation located 20 minutes south of Las Vegas proper. Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, these stacked, colorful rocks are 30 feet high and represent the “creative expression of human presence in the desert.”
If you want to get a great picture and avoid the crowds, try coming here before noon. Tourists will stop here on their way out from Vegas or take a day trip to see the installation. Anytime between sunrise and midday is your best bet for that perfect picture.
Stop 5: Las Vegas, Nevada
The grand finale on your tour isn’t even the end! Your adventure is just beginning here: Las Vegas, or Sin City, is a place of decadence, debauchery and overindulgence.
Maybe this is your first trip to Las Vegas. Or perhaps you’ve been here more times than you county. Either way, I’m sure I can offer a fresh perspective on this crazy city.
Tip: If this is your first time driving to Las Vegas, you might be in store for some heavy duty traffic. If you’re departing on a Friday, try to leave before noon. A lot of Angelenos leave for Vegas on the weekends and always head out after 12 pm. If you are leaving Las Vegas for Los Angeles on Sunday, leave before 10 am or after 5 pm. You’ll either beat the hungover crowd or wait them out.