The Road to VegasUSA
A few weeks ago we did a post on Top Tips for Las Vegas so back by popular demand, this is a follow-up post on some of the findings we came across on our road trip from LA to Las Vegas.
A popular route for tourists and locals combined, it’s a journey that you should at least do once in your life. I have traveled to Vegas by both car and plane and although the plane option may seem quicker (70 minute flight time) I would hands-down choose the car option every time. Not only do you have the freedom to travel at your own pace, you also don’t have to deal with lengthy airport security, baggage check-in and possible flight delays!
Now I know what you are thinking – driving through America, especially LA must be a nightmare (well you are partly right) but I am here to tell you it isn’t that scary! YES, it’s on the opposite side of the road (for most of us Commonwealth country folk), YES, there is a large amount of traffic and YES most LA drivers don’t seem to like using indicators, but all that aside, the fun that can be had on your 4-5 hour road trip to Vegas far out-weigh all those cons.
Now a few travel tips to begin with:
– Hire a Navman/GPS or use Google Maps on your phone – this is definitely a necessity and makes navigating the 16 wide highways a hell of a lot easier! Check your device offers lane guidance as this was a MASSIVE help with knowing what lane to be in before merging or taking exits off the freeways.
– Make sure your tank is full before leaving LA – you will follow the I-15 freeway most of the way and we noticed that there aren’t a hell of a lot of service stops to fill up. We were driving a small Nissan Pulsar equivalent car and we got there on one tank of petrol so I would assume most vehicles would be the same (or even better) on petrol consumption, but thought it was worth a mention. There are major petrol service stops in Victorville (about 1/3 the way), Baker (about half way) and then Primm (which is on the boarder of Nevada and California and only a 45min drive to the main strip of Las Vegas).
– Create a good playlist to sing along to – the journey from LA to Vegas is an easy trip, but at times driving along one stretch of road for a long period of time can feel a little tedious, especially when majority of the way is desert, so have some good tunes to bop along to.
– Try and avoid leaving LA or Vegas in peak hour traffic – statistics show that the average daily auto traffic along the I-15 at the Nevada/California border numbers 42,143, so with that in mind there are a few tricks to try and avoid adding an hour or more onto your journey:
1) Firstly, try make it a mid-week road trip. Friday through to Monday travel is considerably heavier than Tuesday through Thursday, so keep this in mind when in the planning stages of your travels.
2) Same goes for long/holiday weekends. Traveling over these busy periods can range from a 6-11 hour journey – a far cry from the normal 4-5 hour trip!
If you aren’t in too much of a hurry or don’t have any time constraints there are plenty of fun and quirky sights to see along the journey, so below are some of the highlights we can recommend:
Spanning from Chicago to Santa Monica, Route 66, is also known as “Main Street of America” because it wounds through many small towns across the Midwest and Southwest of the country. It had always been a dream of mine to hit the open road and experience this historic stretch of road, so of course a detour on our journey from LA to Vegas was top on our agenda. A short detour off the I-15 freeway at the Victorville exit and you are officially taken back in time. It’s like you just stepped on set of a country and western movie with old deserted diners and antique shops pop up along the route. To be honest, it’s more of a “bucket list tick” kind of adventure as there isn’t a hell of a lot to do or see, but a great fun journey none-the-less!
Bottle Tree Ranch
So this tops my list of fun & quirky things to see along Route 66. Bottle Tree Ranch is exactly what is sounds like… Literally a ranch full of hand made trees made out of steel poles and glass bottles and has got to be one of the coolest, most photographic places I have ever experienced. Created by Elmer (pictured below) whom started this exhibition as a form of artwork using his fathers junk, has now turned into a tourist hot spot. Open from sunrise to sunset and free entry (donations are accepted), I think it’s a must stop for anyone making the journey along this stretch of Route 66. And if you happen to run into Elmer, stop and have a chat, he loves to tell his story!
Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner
Driving can sure leave you famished and there is no better authentic American diner experience than Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner. Located just out of Barstow, this roadside diner is everything you would hope to see and taste! Your 1950’s experience begins as soon as you walk through the oversized jukebox door and doesn’t stop there. Inside is full of red booth seats, walls covered in rock and roll memorabilia and Elvis tunes playing through the sound system. The menu is full of what you would expect – hamburgers, southern fried chicken, fries, apple pies and milkshakes and I am happy to say the taste is everything I would have hoped. Oh and don’t forget to visit the 1950-60s memorabilia store on your way out – just make a right at the singing Elvis – you won’t miss it!
Barstow Outlet Shopping
Got some time for a spot of shopping? Need a break to stretch your legs? Look no further than the Barstow Outlet Shopping Centre. Featuring a variety of top brand-name & designer outlet stores, 41 stores in fact, and with opening hours from 9am to 8pm, there is no excuse to not grab a bargain.
A Californian institution and arguably some of the best burger, fries and shakes you will consume. In-N-Out is located in two convenient “pull over” spots along the route to Vegas – Hesperia and Barstow – we pulled into the Barstow location (right next to the Outlet Shopping Centre) for a quick bite to eat on the drive back to LA and it’s most definitely worth the pit stop! With only 3 variations of burgers, they know what works and they do it well. My choice is combo #2 – classic cheeseburger, fries and don’t forget to upgrade to a shake – you won’t be disappointed!
Primm Outlet Shopping
Again, if shopping is your thing, you are a bargain hunter at heart, well a stop at the Primm Outlet Shopping Centre is well worth it. With over 100 stores to choose from, fully indoors and air-conditioned and opening times from 10am to 8pm there is plenty of time to take a break at Primm before or after your Las Vegas stay.
Buffalo Bill’s Casino
Also located in Primm, this casino is home to the world-famous Desperado roller coaster which is one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world, as well as a pool in the shape of a buffalo – I mean if that’s not enough to get you to make a stop, than I don’t know what is! This is just one in a list of three resorts located as you make your way through the Nevada border. This small community attracts gamblers wanting to stop before reaching Las Vegas (64 km) to the north, or as a last chance to gamble before leaving the Nevada state line.
Seven Magic Mountains
This larger-than-life public art installation is adding some vibrant colour to the otherwise drab desert near Las Vegas. Only new, opened in May 2016, the art exhibit consists of seven mammoth pillars, each between 9 -10 meters tall, of brightly coloured limestone boulders.
With no real purpose it is still pretty cool to detour by and take a look at. Seven Magic Mountains is about 20 minutes from the southernmost tip of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s set back from the I-15 quite a bit, but easily accessible from Las Vegas Boulevard. If you’re driving from California on the I-15, you need to take the Jean exit, about 16kms before you can even see the sculptures.
Neon Boneyard – The Neon Museum
As mentioned in our previous Vegas blog, this is by far the COOLEST museum I have ever visited and I believe it is a MUST stop on your travels to or from Vegas. Located just north of Las Vegas Blvd, this two-acre museum houses more than 200 historic restored signs. Each sign in the collection has a unique story about who created it, what inspired it, where and when it was made and with a tour guide on hand you’ll find out how it all fits into the development of Las Vegas and the city’s rich history. As you can see below, it’s a photographers dream and just a real fun place to visit. Guided tours are conducted day and night so there is no excuse to miss out! Quick tip though, book in advanced – it’s becoming quite a hit with tourists so it’s best to get in early with your booking.
With so much to see and do on the road from LA to Vegas, it’s a real shame to see it all from the airplane, don’t you think?
Have you come across any hidden gems on your travels to and from Vegas? If so pop a comment below as we would LOVE to hear them!