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10 Best California Road Trips To Put On Your Itinerary

by The Discovery Nut
The best California road trips
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California is one of the most scenic states in America with landscapes ranging from towering sequoia trees and rugged ocean coastline up north to deserts and wide sandy beaches fringed by skinny palm trees in the south.

The Golden State takes months to explore and you should take time to plan your California road trips if you want to see the most beautiful corners of this state.

I spent a good amount of time exploring California and its wonders, but I still feel like I have a ton left every time I go back. California is one of the largest states in America that is home to some of the most beautiful cities in the world, iconic beach towns, and otherworldly landscapes. 

Should I keep on going?

In this article, I will show you the most beautiful itineraries for your California road trip. 

Best California road trips

1. Highway 395

Length: 430 miles 

Start: Lone Pine

End: South Lake Tahoe

When you think about road trips around California, you probably picture beautiful coastal drives with ink-blue Pacific waters and craggy shorelines.

While these images of California are often perpetuated by media and movies, there’s a lot more to the state than that!

One of my favorite California road trips is Highway 395, aka the Eastern Sierras Highway that takes you along the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This part of the state will give you a feel of a cowboy country with its small rustic towns, wide open spaces and towering mountains in the backdrop.

Hiking near Zabriskie Point is one of the best things to do in Death Valley

Some travelers begin their drive along Highway 395 from southern California, while others start from Death Valley National Park before arriving at South Lake Tahoe. There’s no right or wrong way to explore this scenic route, as long as you don’t miss some of the key highlights along your journey.

One of the most spectacular stops along Highway 395 is Alabama Hills, the collection of quirky formations at the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas that is often used for movie sets. Spend some time wandering and taking photos here, and when you get tired, you can even camp here for free! 

Next day, continue to California Eastern Sierra Hot Springs, and Convict Lake. And make sure not to miss the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest to see the oldest living organisms on our planet.

Alabama Hills, California

One of the must-stops along this California road trip is the historic Bishop, the largest town in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. I recommend spending one night in Bishop, so you can hike Little Lakes Valley Trail or Bishop Pass Trail and explore the Laws Railroad Museum before hitting the road the next day.

Further up north, stop in Mammoth Lakes, a scenic mountain town with tons of opportunities for recreation such as hiking, camping, and mountain biking. Make sure to check out to Devil’s Postpile National Monument, an incredible natural feature that is a popular stop among outdoor enthusiasts.

Check out the nearby June Lake Loop before arriving at Mono Lake, one of the oldest lakes in North America that attracts plenty of naturalists and photographers thanks to its unique limestone formations and stunning wildlife.

From here, you can either continue to Yosemite National Park along California Highway 120 (or Tioga Pass Road) or continue toward South Lake Tahoe.

If you have extra time, veer off course slightly to visit Bodie State Historic Park to see the remains of California’s Gold Rush Era, one of the most important periods in the history of the state that brought thousands of people from all over the country in search of gold and helped to shape its identity.

Recommended stops: Lone Pine, Alabama Hills, Mount Whitney, Convict Lake, Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, June Lake Loop, Lee Vining.

Best time for your road trip: California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada can get snowy in late fall and winter with roads becoming impassable. Plan your road trip for late spring or summer, if you want to camp. Fall is also a beautiful time to visit this region, as Eastern Sierras is one of the best places to see fall colors in California.

How many days to spend on the road: I suggest no less than 5 days for this road trip. This, of course, depends on how much time you want to spend on the road and what activities you want do. While the drive itself is only about 8 hours, there’s a lot to do along the way, so make sure to have enough time.

Mission San Diego de alcala is one of the top things to do in San Diego

2. San Diego to Death Valley National Park

Length: Approximately 340 miles 

Start: San Diego

End: Death Valley National Park

If you love the desert as much as I do, don’t miss out on some of the most beautiful desert drives in Southern California.

While many travelers take a road trip from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park, one of the most popular destinations in California’s desert, there are plenty of other cool desert destinations in Southern California.

Begin your trip in San Diego and make your way to Anza Borrego Desert State Park, one of the most beautiful state parks in Southern California famous for its quirky art installations, blooming wildflowers in spring, and scenic hikes through desert canyons.

On your way from Anza Borrego to Joshua Tree stop at the Salton Sea, a big body of water that is home to many migratory birds and wildlife that is drying up, unfortunately.

PRO TIP: As you might have guessed, taking a road trip through California deserts could involve some off-roading. Having a high-clearance vehicle will help you, however, you can also explore in a standard car, just make sure to check road conditions before starting your trip.

One of the most beautiful spots along this California road trip itinerary is Palm Springs, a desert oasis with a cool art scene and tall palm trees framed by the beautiful mountains. It’s a neat town to spend a couple of days, enjoy a variety of restaurants and soak up some desert sun.

For the ultimate experience, continue toward Death Valley National Park, one of the largest West Coast National Parks that is home to the hottest temperatures in North America and also the lowest point called Badwater Basin. Death Valley is an incredible place and if you like solitude and gorgeous scenery, you will have a great time here.

Recommended stops: Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, Salton Sea, Death Valley National Park

Best time for your road trip: California deserts can be really hot during summer, with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, especially in Death Valley. If you want to hike and enjoy the landscapes, plan your trip anywhere from late fall through early or mid-spring when you can also see flowers blooming in parts of this region.

How many days to spend on the road: I recommend between 5 to 7 days on the road, however, if you want to do more hiking and exploration, spare more time. For example, Death Valley National Park has many cool remote spots. If you want to camp under clear dark skies, spend about two to three days in Death Valley.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

3. Central California

Length: 150 miles 

Start: Santa Barbara

End: San Simeon

Central Coast is one of the most scenic California road trips. It doesn’t have big bustling cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles, but instead, boasts cute beachside towns, rolling green hills, and less crowded beaches. While many people know about Central California because of the iconic Big Sur, there’s a lot more to this region.

Begin your trip in Santa Barbara, one of the most picturesque towns in California where you can explore the downtown, visit the iconic courthouse and even learn how to surf. Because of its location along Central California Coast, Santa Barbara boasts calm breakpoints that are perfect for beginner surfers.

Take a day trip to the Channel Islands National Park aka Galapagos of Northern America where you can spot incredible wildlife not found anywhere else in the world! Boats to Channel Islands depart daily from Ventura, a 30-minute drive from Santa Barbara.

Nine sisters San Luis obispo

As an option, you can also make a 50-minute drive from Santa Barbara to Ojai, a small hamlet with beautiful mountains, orange groves, and hippy vibes. Ojai is a perfect place for a romantic weekend getaway.

When you are ready to continue your coastal drive, head to San Luis Obispo, shortly called SLO, where you can spend a couple of days touring the beautiful downtown, enjoying Pismo Beach, and hiking in Montana de Pro State Park.

PRO TIP: If you are visiting in winter, make sure to visit the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach where you can observe thousands of monarch butterflies on eucalyptus trees.

A quick drive away from San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles is one of the top wine regions in the world. Not as famous as Napa or Santa Barbara wine country, Paso Robles offers a quiet retreat with plenty of small-town charm. Aside from win tasting in Paso Robles, you can also cool off at Franklin Hot Springs or rent a boat at Lake Nacimiento.

An optional deviation from Paso Robles is Cambria, a paradisiacal spot along Highway 1 that remains a hidden gem of Central California.

Located slightly north of San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay is a small bayside town easily recognizable because of the giant rock right along the beach. Morro Bay is also a marine sanctuary and a perfect place to spot adorable sea otters splashing in the water.

End your trip with a visit to the famous Hearst Castle outside of San Simeon before arriving in Big Sur. You can choose from multiple tours that will show you different parts of this impressive property and talk about how it came to be. At the end of your tour, you can also watch a movie in the theater right inside the castle.

Recommended stops: Santa Barbara, Channel Islands National Park, Ojai, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Montana De Oro State Park, Paso Robles, Cambria, Hearst Castle.

Best time for your road trip: Central California has a mild coastal climate which means you can visit it any time. Still, there are a couple of caveats you should consider. In winter, temperatures are cooler, and while there’s still plenty of sunshine, there is a higher chance of rain. Summer is the busiest time in the region, and in spring, you can see gorgeous wildflowers and carpeting the green coastal slopes.

How many days to spend on the road: I recommend between 8-10 days to explore Central California. Just like the rest of the Golden State, this region has way too many beautiful spots to cram it all into a short road trip.

Big Sur in California is one of the best places to visit in the United States

4. California Pacific Highway 1

Length: Approximately 450 miles

Start: Orange County

End: Monterrey

If you do some research on California Pacific Highway or Highway 1, one of the most popular California road trips, you will quickly find out that there are many opinions on where it begins and where it ends. While many travelers think this iconic stretch is from Los Angeles to San Francisco, it actually starts in Dana Point, Orange County, and ends in Mendocino County not far from the Oregon border.

Whether you decide to do this road trip from north to south, or vice versa, make sure to visit some of the most beautiful highlights of California Pacific Highway 1.

Since I’ve traveled this highway from south to north, I will start from Orange County, a densely populated area with postcard-like towns including Corona Del Mar, Dana Point,  and San Clemente, and Crystal Cove State Park. 

Continue your trip to Los Angeles where you can spend as much as one week, and as little as a couple of days. Since traffic is known to be bad in LA, plan your activities in one area to minimize your time on the road. Spend a day in West LA where you can visit Santa Monica and the Hollywood Walk of Fame before heading to Griffith Observatory for an epic sunset.

After a few days in LA, visit Central California towns Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay, before arriving in San Simeon, the southern gateway to Big Sur. Here, make a stop at Hearst Castle, one of the main highlights of the California Pacific Highway. 

Next up: the iconic Big Sur. I want to caution you against doing this drive in a day because if you do, you will miss out on many amazing places. Instead, take 2-3 days for your visit to Big Sur to see all of its highlights and do a couple of hikes.

The top spots in Big Sur are Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (with the famous McWay Waterfalls overlook), Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and The Los Padres National Forest. Other worthy places are the Bixby Bridge, the Cypress Grove Trail, and Bird Island Trail.

After exploring Big Sur for a couple of days, arrive in Monterey just south of San Francisco, and don’t forget to visit the beautiful village of Carmel by the Sea and the nearby Pacific Grove where you can hike the scenic coastal trail.

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

Finish your trip in San Francisco, one of the most iconic American cities famous for its coastal fog, Golden Gate Bridge, and scenic mountain views. Spend no less than 3 days in San Francisco to get a taste of this city.

Recommended stops: Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel by the Sea, San Francisco.

Best time for your road trip: Summer is the busiest time in the region with scores of domestic and international tourists coming here, while winter and late fall can bring rains that can sometimes result in mudslides along the coast. Mid-to-late spring is an ideal time for your road trip along California Highway 1 when you can see beautiful wildflowers in full bloom and enjoy less crowded places.

How many days to spend on the road: Set aside no less than 10 days for this adventure, with an optimal time of 12-14 days, if you can do it. Highway 1 has many beautiful stops, and it would be a shame if you tried to cram all of it in a short time.

5. Redding to Mount Shasta

Length: 230 miles 

Start: Redding

End: Redding

One of the least crowded (and most spectacular) California road trips, a route from Redding to Mount Shasta is a perfect getaway for outdoor junkies. Located in Northern California, this scenic stretch will take you along incredible waterfalls and the snow-capped Mount Shasta, before arriving at Lassen Volcanic National Park, one of the least visited West Coast National Parks that boasts incredible hydrothermal features.

Before you begin your trip, explore Redding, a NorCal town where you can enjoy hiking, biking, and exploring the Sacramento River National Recreation Trail.

Next, head toward Lassen Volcanic National Park where you can see a myriad of amazing thermal features such as springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. Just like Death Valley National Park, Lassen Volcanic is away from big cities which means you can enjoy clear dark skies if you decide to camp here.

Another worthy spot along your itinerary is McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park that boasts gorgeous waterfalls. Spend some time wandering its trails before arriving at the Shasta-Trinity National Forest where you can take a hike to McCloud Falls and see the majestic Mount Shasta.

Check out Shasta Lake where you can take a guided tour of the Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark, home to many stalactites and stalagmites.

Recommended stops: Redding, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mount Shasta, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park.

Best time for your road trip: Summer is the best time to visit this Northern California region unless you want to do backcountry skiing and try other winter activities. While early summer still sees some snow, July and August are the best months to visit the area when roads are open and temperatures are ideal for spending time outside and camping.

How many days to spend on the road: Spare between 5 to 8 days for this Northern California road trip. This is a remote region and while there are many cool places to see, things will take some time to get from one point to another.

6. Rim of the World Scenic Byway

Length: 110 miles 

Start: Cajon Pass

End: San Gorgonio Pass

One of the most overlooked road trips in California, Rim of The World Scenic Byway offers a different side of Southern California. This spectacular road trip will take you through the San Bernardino Mountains from the deep Cajon Pass outside of Los Angeles to Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead in the mountains.

Keep in mind, this area is very popular with SoCal residents during winter when scores of visitors make their way here for skiing and snowboarding from places like Los Angeles and San Diego. If you too want to come here for some winter fun, make sure to put chains on your tires because it can snow here.

Summer, meanwhile, is a perfect time to take a breather from Southern California heat and enjoy beautiful lakes, lush meadows, and scenic trails. Weekends can be busy but weekdays are great for a relaxed getaway since crowds tend to dissipate.

Big Bear Lake in particular is a popular destination because it offers many accommodations, restaurants, and amenities. It’s a great trip to cool off and relax before continuing your California adventures.

Best time for your road trip: There’s no wrong season to visit this place! Summer is a popular time among outdoor enthusiasts, while winter transforms this place into one the most popular places to visit in Southern California.

How many days to spend on the road: 2-3 days is the perfect time for this small road trip which will allow you to see most highlights and spend one night in the beautiful Big Bear Lake.

Yosemite Valley things to do

7. National Parks Loop

Length: 650 miles

Start: San Francisco

End: San Francisco

California is home to some of the most incredible West Coast national parks, and you will miss out if you don’t include them in your California itinerary! The famous trio includes Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and the Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts millions of people from all over the world.

Starting your California national parks trip in San Francisco will help you maximize your time, however, you can begin in Los Angeles and even Sacramento before ending in another city, depending on your travel plans.

There are several roads that you can take to get from San Francisco to Yosemite, however, for the best experience, I recommend CA Highway 140 that will take you through the towns of Fish Camp and Mariposa.

As someone who has been to Yosemite a couple of times, I want to tell you NOT to book your hotel last moment, especially if you travel from June through early September. Yosemite is one of the busiest destinations California and prices here can reach a few hundred dollars for a very basic room during the peak season.

PRO TIP: Yosemite demands time, especially if you plan on doing some of the most popular hikes such as Yosemite Falls, Nevada Falls, or Half Dome (which also requires a permit). However, this national park has plenty of easy-to-moderate trails perfect for beginner explorers. For example, Bridalveil Falls is an easy hike, and the Glacier Overlook is a short but spectacular trail accessible from the parking lot.

Don’t forget to visit Mariposa Grove to see the giant sequoia trees, and make stops at Tenaya Lake and Olmstead Point to take in the stunning views of the granite mountains.

From Yosemite, take a drive to Kings Canyon National Park where you can hike to waterfalls and take in scenic views of Kings River. If you have time, take a hike to Redwood Canyon, home to one of the largest sequoia groves in the world. It’s a smaller and less visited national park, a perfect spot for a less crowded getaway.

Continue along Generals Highway before arriving at Sequoia National Park. Take a trail to Morro Rock for magnificent sunset views (another option is to come here during sunrise when only a few people are in the area).

Recommended stops: Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon

Best time to visit: As with other areas in California’s Sierra Nevada, summer is the best time to visit because snow here can linger as late as the end of June. Early-to-mid June is the best to see waterfalls in Yosemite in their full glory, and July and August are the busiest months.

Winter has only a fraction of visitors and is a perfect time for winter adventures such as snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

How many days to spend on the road: I suggest between 5-8 days for your road trip to California national parks because of the sheer distance and the many things to do, especially in a place like Yosemite.

Santa-Monica-California

8. Southern California

Length: 120 miles

Start: San Diego

End: Los Angeles

Southern California is home to some of the best beaches in the United States, with millions of people from all over the world visiting this region. This region is also home to large metropolitan areas such as San Diego, Santa Monica, and Los Angeles.

Begin your trip in San Diego where you can see a great scenery in places like Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and watch the sunset from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park before heading to Gas Lamp Quarter for dinner. Round up your trip with a visit to Balboa Park, the National Historic Landmark with gardens, museums and performance venues.

Don’t forget to stop in La Jolla, a small town north of San Diego where you can watch amazing wildlife and enjoy great restaurants and scenery. 

Next, head north to Orange County where you can go on a whale watching tour in Dana Point, enjoy the incredible Crystal Cove State Park, and check out Art Scene at Laguna Beach before heading to Newport Beach, a perfect spot for surfing.

If you are a wine lover, consider taking a slight detour inland to Temecula, one of the most popular wine tasting destinations in Southern California.

Arrive in the Los Angeles area where you can spend as much as a couple of weeks. Plan your trip by areas to minimize your driving time, since traffic in Los Angeles is notoriously bad. For example, one day you could do a couple of museums such as Los Angeles County Museum or Getty Museum before heading to West LA next day to check out Venice Beach, Santa Monica and Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Finally downtown Los Angeles (or DTLA) is home to many cool art museums, restaurants and stores.

To see Southern California off the beaten track, take a day trip Catalina Island for some Mediterranean vibes and relaxation. Round up your trip in Malibu an Topanga, gorgeous places with scenic beaches like El Matador State Beach.

Recommended stops: San Diego, Carlsbad, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, Corona Del Mar, Newport Beach, Temecula, Los Angeles, Catalina Island, Malibu, Santa Monica, West Hollywood.

Best time to visit: Southern California is a perfect destination to visit year round thanks to its mild climate and plenty of sunshine. Summer is a busier time while winter is a great season to visit if you are coming from the colder climate and want to enjoy warm temperatures. During winter months, visitation is also slower which means prices on hotels and tours will be lower than in summer.

How many days to spend on the road: I recommend no less than 7 days for your Southern California road trip, with an optimal length of 10 days. If time is short, focus on just one area, such as San Diego or Los Angeles, instead of trying to hit all of the locations.

How to visit San Francisco

9. Northern California Coast

Length: 175 miles

Start: San Francisco

End: Fort Bragg

The stretch of Pacific Highway 1 from San Francisco to Fort Bragg might be less famous than Big Sur and Central California Coast, but it’s by any means not less beautiful.

This California road trip is far less crowded than the southern stretch of Highway 1 and offers untouched beauty with the coast shrouded in fog and framed by coastal redwoods.

The northern portion of Highway 1 begins when you cross Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. After you drive through Sausalito, make a stop at Muir Woods National Monument, home to nearly two-thousand-year-old redwoods that is named after the famed environmentalist John Muir.

Coastal redwoods have been around for 150 million years, and their habitat stretches along the Pacific Coast from Southern Oregon to Northern California. California’s Sequoia National Park is home to the closest sibling of the coast redwood, the giant sequoia that is found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in northern California.

Reservations are required for Muir Woods National Monument. Local authorities implemented it in an attempt to curb the crowds and preserve this delicate ecosystem.

Continue toward Point Reyes National Seashore, a 70,000-acre park along the Point Reyes Peninsula where ocean breakers crash into the jagged coastline. Here you can take part in ranger-guided programs, watch wildlife, and do a couple of scenic hikes. Make sure to grab a jacket, because the weather here can be chilly.

The next stop is Sonoma County where you can enjoy warmer temperatures and plenty of wine. Spend the night in Santa Rosa, the largest city in the area from where you can launch all your trips in the wine country. Another option is to stop at Napa, however, keep in mind that it’s one of the most popular destinations in Northern California, and can get crowded.

Proceed north where you can explore the untouched beauty of the region in Mendocino Headlands State Park before arriving in Mendocino, and Fort Bragg, hows to the famous glass beach in MacKerricher State Park that got its name because of the thousands of tiny pieces of smooth glass that blend with the pebbles.

Optionally, make a stop in Mendocino, California’s hidden gem and one of the most beautiful wine regions in the state enveloped by fog and surrounded by sprawling hills. Sample organic wine made with sustainable practices and enjoy a slow pace of life.

And when you get closer to Oregon, stop either in Eureka or Crescent City, two small towns that are the perfect blend of culture and nature. From there, you can easily visit Redwood National and State Parks and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Del Norte County is the northernmost county in California that has tons of wild remote beaches perfect for an outdoor enthusiast.

Highlights: Muir Woods National Monument, Point Reyes, Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Crescent City, Redwood National, and State Parks.

Best time for your road trip: Since Northern California Coast has cooler temperatures plan your trip from mid-spring through early September if you want to enjoy warmer weather. Winter brings plenty of rain and mist in the region, and it can be foggy, however, there are also far fewer visitors.

How many days to spend on the road: Spend between 5-7 days on the road spending on how many outdoorsy things you want to do. Since this region is all about spending time outdoors and enjoying nature, plan your activities accordingly.

Las Vegas is one of the most fun places to visit along West Coast Road Trip

10. Los Angeles to Las Vegas

Length: Approximately 270 miles

Start: Los Angeles

End: Las Vegas

A drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas might not seem like a road trip, after all, it goes through the seemingly lifeless desert with not much to look at. Wrong!

If you are planning on driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (or the other way around), get ready for an exciting drive through the beautiful California desert where ghost towns give way to unique places and quirky roadside attractions such as the world’s largest thermometer.

This drive is not one of the most talked-about California road trips, and that’s exactly why I decided to cover it. It takes anywhere from 4 to 5 hours, but don’t worry, you will have a ton of entertaining stops along the way to spice up your trip. 

One of my favorite stops between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. Here, you will find hundreds of trees with branches made out of colorful glass bottles. It’s a good roadside stop to snap a picture before continuing your route up north.

Your next point of interest is Barstow, the largest town along Interstate-15. 

Here you can grab some food and visit a couple of museums. I particularly recommend the Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum, home to artifacts chronicling the history of this iconic American route. You can also visit Western America Railroad Museum and Desert Discovery Center to see the second-largest meteorite found in the United States.

A quick drive from Barstow, the small desert community Yermo is home to Calico Ghost Town. Calico prospered during the silver boom but went bust by the late 1800s when silver lost its value. It’s been carefully restored to its original appearance and today it serves as a major roadside attraction between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Next up on your journey is one of the most unusual stops, Zzyzx Road right off Interstate-15. While it looks like a desolate and abandoned road, you can find a pretty big lake surrounded by palm trees and if you continue your drive down this road, you will come toward an abandoned building.

When you pass Baker, about 25 minutes south of the Nevada border, you will see the world’s largest thermometer towering above the desert landscape. On hot summer days, you can see it showing 110 degrees Fahrenheit and above!

One of my favorite stops on this California road trip is Mojave National Preserve, home to stunning sand dunes, mountains and palm trees. There are no amenities here, so make sure to grab some food and water. Some of the coolest stops within Mojave National Preserve are Soda Lake, Kelso Dunes, and the Mitchell Caverns.

As an option, you can also stop at Death Valley National Park, but this is a much longer trip, that will require an additional day.

Your last stop before Las Vegas is Primm, a town that is partially located in California and is a perfect place to score a bargain since it’s home to a big outlet mall.

And finally, don’t forget to stop at Seven Magic Mountains, a colorful art installation just south of Las Vegas where you can snap a cool photo.

PRO TIP: I’m sure you are excited about all the Vegas fun, but I suggest taking at least one trip outside of Las Vegas where you can discover the beauty of this region. To learn about some of the best road trips from Las Vegas, check this article.

Highlights: Cajon Pass, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, Barstow, Calico Ghost Town, Zzyx Road, Baker, Mojave National Preserve, Death Valley National Park, Seven Magic Mountains. 

Best time for your road trip: Year round, but remember that Mojave Desert gets really hot in summer, which can make it tough to be outside. Fall and early-to-mid spring is a perfect time for this road trip.

How many days to spend on the road: The shortest California road trip, a drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas can be done in as little as 4 hours and as long as one day, depending on what stops you want to make.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the links in this article. 

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