California rules. The Golden State has it all — beautiful beaches, soaring mountains, and the best darn seafood in the whole world (we’re not biased or anything). But sometimes it’s really nice just to hop in your car and head somewhere different for a day or two.
1.Los Angeles to Las Vegas
270 miles (around 4 hours)
The drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is something special. Plus, you can cover the distance in as little as four hours (depending on the traffic, of course). Leave early Friday afternoon, and you’ll be cruising along the Strip in no time.
There’s plenty to see along the way. Located on Highway 138, just off Interstate 15, the Mormon Rocks will take your breath away. These sandstone blocks shimmer in the sun and make for the perfect Instagram opportunity.
Sin City is jam-packed full of tourist treasures. You can book a hotel on the Strip — there are more than 150,000 hotel rooms in this city — or pull up a chair at one of the many restaurants. Gordon Ramsay Steak, located in the Paris casino, is a great option that won’t disappoint . The two-story dining area has an intimate feel and delicious British dishes like Beef Wellington and shepherd’s pie.
Other local landmarks include the Venetian Grand Canal — where you can ride on a gondola, no less — and the Bellagio Fountains. Las Vegas is famous for its live shows, and you’ll find nearly every type of entertainment in this city. From concerts to comedy, there’s something for everyone.
Getting around Vegas is easy. Park your car at your hotel, jump on a bus and ride up and down the Strip — it’s the best way to take in the city. Want to see Vegas from a new perspective? The Stratosphere Tower Observation Deck has some pretty stunning views.
2. San Francisco to Reno, Nevada
218 miles (around 3.5 hours)
From the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz Island, San Francisco has some world-famous hot spots. But sometimes you just need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Reno is smaller and quieter than San Francisco, but it has authentic charm that you won’t find anywhere else, making it a great choice for a weekend getaway.
Conifer trees and mountains line the route from San Francisco to Reno, so it’s quite the scenic route. Once you touch down in Reno, grab a bite to eat in one of the many world-class hotels. Resorts like the Grand Sierra and Silver Legacy have some of the biggest buffets anywhere in Nevada. Don’t forget to visit Reno’s historic downtown district too.
While you’re in town, check out the National Automobile Museum, which houses 220 antique and vintage cars from the 19th and 20th centuries. If you’re looking for something a little more outdoorsy, Pyramid Lake is a must see. The blue water is gorgeous, and you can even do some fishing while you’re there.
Before you leave, head over to the National Bowling Stadium — a ten-pin bowling stadium that measures an impressive 363,000 square feet. This place is famous for the massive aluminum dome in the building’s facade.
3. Los Angeles to Phoenix, Arizona
372 miles (around 5.5 hours)
The drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix isn’t as bad as you may initially think. There’s plenty to see along the way — the beautiful desert landscapes and mountains are well worth the journey. On a good day, you’ll end up in downtown Phoenix in just over five hours. Phoenix is a must-see cultural hub, with museums, galleries and landmark buildings waiting for you to explore.
When you arrive in this modern city, check out the natural attractions, too. The Desert Botanical Garden has 140 acres of desert plants, while Camelback Mountain is a brilliant hiking spot. Nearby Papago Park includes the famous Hole-in-the-Rock formation.
If sports are more your thing, Phoenix has some of the world’s biggest baseball parks, including Chase Field — home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
You’ll find plenty to eat and drink over in downtown Phoenix, the beating pulse of this city. It’s not too hard to find delicious cocktails and tacos — two famous Arizona specialties. Walk off those calories with a trip to the Heard Museum and view its collection of Southwestern art. Alternatively, visit the Phoenix Zoo, which has a wide range of exotic species.
Fancy escaping California for the weekend? Embark on one of these three road trips and explore the great American outdoors (and indoors). All of these journeys are under a six-hour drive, so you can travel to another state and make it back in time for Monday morning.