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  1. Default Las Vegas to LA via San Diego


    We're planning to drive from Las Vegas to San Diego; to spend perhaps a couple of nights there before heading up the coast to Los Angeles.

    Unfortunately, we've only got about 7 days in total...

    Can anyone advise a good route, preferably avoiding the major motorways, and perhaps going south from Las Vegas rather than towards Los Angeles?

    Are there any particular sites that we should definitely see, or places we should stay?

    All advice gratefully received....



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Your Call

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Unfortunately (or fortunately in your case) there are no Motorways (We call them Interstates.) south out of Las Vegas to San Diego and completely avoiding Los Angeles, So you'll have to decide which of those criteria is more important to you.

    The Interstate route would be I-15 south out of Las Vegas, and then using I-215 to skirt around Los Angeles to the east through San Bernadino and Riverside before rejoining I-15 for the final run into San Diego.

    If you really want to head south out of Las Vegas and completely avoid the Los Angeles basin, then you're going to be on a lot of two-lane blacktop (think A routes). You would take US-95 south to Blythe then CA-78 to Brawley and CA-111 to El Centro where you'd get on I-8 to San Diego. If you really wanted to avoid Interstates as much as possible, then continue south on CA-111 past El Cento to CA-98 which runs along the Mexican border. You will have to get on I-8 for a bit, but then you can use CA-94 for the last section to San Diego.

    Also, be aware that the second route is 100 miles longer (430 vs. 330) than the Interstate route and will take considerably longer, but will give you a different perspective on that neck of the woods than most people get.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default A slight variation on a common theme

    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyj View Post
    We're planning to drive from Las Vegas to San Diego; to spend perhaps a couple of nights there before heading up the coast to Los Angeles.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Scenic drives in the American southwest are both abundant and commonly discussed on this Forum. Here are some of the most interesting threads -- Since you are looking for a little more off-the-beaten path routes, here is what I would suggest.

    Start by going east over Hoover Dam and stop at the Chloride Murals and then follow US-93 to Kingman. Then follow historic Route 66 up over Sitgreaves Pass to Oatman.

    Follow US-66 to I-40 for a short hop east to AZ-95 and swing by for a quick photo stop of London Bridge. Continue south on AZ-95 (this is one of the most beautiful sections of the Colorado River that you can see from a car).

    When you reach Parker, Arizona -- head west on CA-62 and look for the rock graffiti and remmant shoetrees and make your way all the way over to Twentynine Palms. Very interesting murals, gateway to Joshua National Park and home to the Twentynine Palms Inn. Stay here -- it is a unique look into a long-time hideaway for the Hollywood-set.

    You can spend much of the next day exploring the national park. If you want another really scenic drive as you head south -- take CA-74 (at the "backdoor" of Palm Springs) and follow that up the Seven Level Hill for views of the San Jacinto Mountains. When you reach CA-371, veer off to the southwest down to CA-79.

    From here you can either take the faster route over to I-15 and south to San Diego or turn south and follow CA-79. No matter which way you go, there is a fabulous place for lunch right near the intersection of CA-79 and I-15 -- the Temecula Pizza Company has been a favorite for several years. CA-79 is now home to a growing winery center if you like tasting wines.

    If you elected to stay on CA-79 follow that to Santa Ysabel and be sure to stop at the Dudley's bakery! Awesome bread! Continuing on CA-79 through the historic gold town of Julian and then all the way to I-8 for the rapid trip to San Diego.

    And when you get to San Diego -- look at this incredible list of attractions, just posted by Larrison!

    Hope this gets you started.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-30-2007 at 09:25 AM. Reason: added link to San Diego attractions

  4. Default Fastest Route..

    You can make it from Las Vegas to San Diego in a day's drive. Take the I-15 south west out of Las Vegas towards Barstow, and then continue south on it to pass east of Los Angeles (by about 40 miles) through San Bernadino and Riverside, to San Diego. The entire route is on superhighways (typically 4-8 lanes) with a very high rate of speed. (100kph+) The trip can be made in as little as 5 hours, although 6-7 is more typical.

    Other ways to do things, that would take more time would be to detour off this path to go through some interesting places.

    If you want to pretty much follow the I-15 route, there's an interesting overnight stop in Riverside at the Mission Inn hotel. This is an old, California Mission- style hotel that was rennovated a few years ago. The family who built this around the turn of last century were collectors from all over the world, and its really a funky place to visit. There's Napleonic cannon in the garden, Chinese temple bells in the alcoves, a medieveal Spanish Chapel in the back, a wall to honor early aviators (like from the 1920's), a 20' reclining gold buddaha behind one of the bars, an outdoor clock in one of the courtyards who shows figures from California history on the hours, and an amazing collection of artwork. There are Rennaisance era stained glass windows in the hallways, and a very good collection of California landscape art scattered around the hotel. They also have a 3 star restaurant, as well as a pretty good family style mexican restaurant on the grounds, as well as a coffee house. Funky place...

    For a cross-country route that takes you through the most varied terrain, take I-15 south, and then cut off to Cima in the Mojave National Preserve. In the MNP, you can find huge forests (fields?) of Joshua trees, cinder cones and lava flows, and large Sand Dunes (near Kelso). I'd do Cima to Flynn then past the sand dunes area to cross over the I-10 and continue south to Amboy. At Amboy you'll cross historic Route 66 (you'll be on it a few miles to make the junction at Amboy). You should visit the Amboy crater a couple of miles from here -- this is a huge cinder cone and lava beds from a volcanic erruption in historic times. From Amboy, continue south to come into 29 Palms. (All of this is on good quality 2 lane paved roads, although there are not many services along here. Make sure you have gassed up the car, and have additional water in the car as well. Don't be stupid about driving off the pavement as its easy to get stuck in the sand. There isn't much cell phone coverage here, although this route is traveled by other drivers -- say one every 15 minutes or so, and patrolled somewhat by park rangers and the highway patrol (usually by air).)

    From 29 Palms I would continue south through Joshua Tree National park, to come out near Chiraco Summit at the I-10 freeway. Patton's 3rd army trained for desert warfare near here, and there's a Patton musuem at the Summit. This is about as far as I would push it in a longish day -- dependent upon how much you wanted to stop and look at things. You could stay in 29 palms or in the Indio/ Palm Springs region.

    From the Indio/ Palm Springs area you can head west on I-10 past Palm Springs to pick up the I-15 again and speed south to San Diego, or continue south. The most interesting route is to continue south down along the west edge of the Salton Sea to Borrego Springs and the California Anza Borrego Desert State Park. There's a really nice short (< 5 miles) hike in Anza Borrego up Palm Canyon to a real desert palm oasis. I've seen big horn sheep in here about 2/3rds of the times I've hiked it.

    From the Borrego Springs area you'll head up the steep escarpment in a few miles of very winding road with amazing views back across the Salton Sea, to the little town of Julian. This was an old mining town and has been recently turned into a funky mountain resort area, known for its hot apple pie. From Julian its about 3 hours to San Diego, driving through the hill country behind San Diego. You can detour through Escondito and the San Diego Wild Animal Park, or continue through to SD.

  5. Default

    Thanks for your useful advice on this everyone, I'll have a ponder.....



  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    Start by going east over Hoover Dam and stop at the Chloride Murals and then follow US-93 to Kingman.[/URL]

    Hi, I am interested to go over this Chloride Murals. But I am not sure if this is open during winter time? I may drop by from my trip back from Grand Canyon :) Not sure if anyone know this? Thanks.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default It is never closed

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingfish11 View Post
    Hi, I am interested to go over this Chloride Murals. But I am not sure if this is open during winter time?
    It is an outside mural and therefore it never really closes -- by the same token, there is no one that really watches this place. However, the road is subject to being washed out due to flash floods. It is not a long walk from the end of the paved road to the site, if the road is too rough for your vehicle.


  8. Default Enough Time?

    Hiya - I've just used the 'quote' function but not sure if it worked? I'm referring to 'Larrisons' post below re the cross country route from Vegas to San Diego.

    If we were to follow this, with say an hour for lunch and a couple of comfort breaks, how long would it take to drive?

    We're collecting our car from LV airport at 9, so wondering what time we'd arrive in central San Diego.


  9. Default San Diego to Las Vegas


    We are coming over from the UK to San Diego and then will be driving to Las Vegas. I've been recommended to see a town called 'Julian' en-route. Our only difficulty is that we are doing the journey in one day so any recommendations would need to bare this in mind. Look forward to reading the responses!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    With only one day to work with and to allow you a couple hours in Julian, take I-8 east out of SD to Descanso and take CA-79 into Julian. Then stay on 79 which will make a right turn at Santa Ysabel. Follow 79 to Temecula and pick up I-15/I-215/I-15 to LV. This would be about a 7 to 8 hour drive not counting time spent in Julian.

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