Legendary Las Vegas road trips

Amy Rosoman for British Airways

Title photography by inacioluc

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Catch the neon sparkle of Las Vegas, then steer across the blazing Mojave Desert. Cruise to the oasis of Palm Springs before hitting the lights of Los Angeles. Peer into the monumental Grand Canyon, ride to relaxed Phoenix or experience the scorching heat through Death Valley before reaching San Francisco. Whatever your route, take your road trip with us.

Las Vegas – Palm Springs – Los Angeles

Best for: Desert city to west coast wonders

The journey: 392 miles

Las Vegas

Soak up the shimmering sights of Las Vegas for a few nights. Cruise into the city and pull over to take a snap with the world-famous sign. Feel the roaring energy of Sin City – a world of casinos, nightclubs and pool parties. Hit up the Aria Resort & Casino to rock the roulette wheel and party the night away at Omnia.

Wake up for a hangover brunch at Tom’s Urban in the New York New York Hotel and Casino, then grab your pool party outfit for the Encore Beach Club at Encore at Wynn. Dive into a legendary day of cocktails and dancing.

When you’ve had enough of party and repeat, make tracks south to Palm Springs. Although you can choose from a couple of routes, nature lovers should swing through the Mojave National Preserve. Pitch up and wander through blankets of wildflowers, rippling sand dunes and an array of canyons, plains and mountains. Remember to pack plenty of snacks and water to keep you going.

Alternatively, make some quirky stops along Interstate 15. Make your first break at one of Nevada’s oldest bars, Pioneer Saloon – a great place for a bite to eat. Drive a little further, then pull over in the town of Baker, home to the world’s largest thermometer. A cheesy photo opportunity awaits.

Further down, you can stroll through the Ghost Town of Calico and, for a fee, traverse the old mining tunnel. If you need a classic American foodie stop, the flamboyant Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner will feed your soul. Before reaching Palm Springs, steer onto Route 66 and make your way to Elmer’s Bottletree Ranch – a free art exhibit displaying a forest of mermaid colours and vintage trinkets.

Where to stay: The Cosmopolitan is the place to stay in Las Vegas. Check out its chic Chandelier Bar for a glitzy drink, kick back in spacious and stylish rooms and savour every moment in this luxurious adult playground.

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Arrive to the dizzy sensations of La-La Land and experience the city famed for, well, everything famous.

Palm Springs

The stars shine even brighter in the desert – so a stop in the magic of Joshua Tree National Park is a must. Arrive in time for sunset and watch the silhouettes of Joshua Trees disappear. Come nightfall, gaze up into the glistening night sky.

Outgoing adventurers should drive through the desert landscape of Coachella Valley, following the road south to the glow of Salvation Mountain and curious Slab City – a destination known as ‘The Last Free Place’. Soak up the bubble-gum colours in this remote atmosphere, which attracts hipsters, Instagram-goers and families alike.

When in Palm Springs, ride two-and-a-half miles up into the mountains of Chino Canyon in the world’s largest rotating aerial tramcar to admire the captivating views of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Lookout from observation decks at the top, then begin to explore the 50 miles of hiking trails.

Once you’ve experienced the highlights of Palm Springs and Greater Palm Springs, get the show on the road and head out to Mormon Rocks before arriving in Los Angeles. Listen to the legendary ‘Chanting Rocks’, whose sandstone song can be heard when the wind blows.

Where to stay: Enjoy a euphoric break at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa. Swim in a choice of several pools surrounded by palm trees, play on one of two Championship golf courses or take part in a yoga class. After a busy day, unwind in the spa before dinner in Lantana. Their open-air kitchen serves pizza from a wood-burning oven.

Book a stay at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa

Los Angeles

Embrace the dizzy sensations of La-La Land. Experience the city famed for, well, everything famous. Take a gander at the Hollywood sign, stargaze at the Griffith Observatory and explore Runyon Canyon – with a break at the top for some of the best views across the City of Angels. Find your favourite stars’ names on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and shop on Rodeo Drive, then move to Sunset Boulevard for music and nightlife.

Soak up the bohemian vibes of Venice Beach. Savour the three-mile stretch of coastline alongside sun-seekers and boardwalk roller-skaters. Immerse yourself in the artsy scene, find a tipple to tickle you and enjoy the free-spirit vibes of this hot spot. A little further along, you can play on Santa Monica Pier – with a night-time Ferris Wheel ride to watch the Pacific Ocean glisten. See what else you can get up to with our guide on outdoor things to do in L.A. Los Angeles – what a way to wrap up your road trip.

Where to stay: Discover Beverly Hills and Hollywood on your doorstep from The Garland. Relax in the beautiful garden, lounge by the pool and hop aboard the free trolley service to Universal Studios and CityWalk.

Book a stay at The Garland

  • Skywalk over the Grand Canyon. ©National Geographic Creative / Alamy Stock Photo.

    Do you dare?

    Be brave and make your way over the skywalk above the Grand Canyon.

    Stay at the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn
  • Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. ©superjoseph.

    An isle of mystery and spine-chilling tales…

    Look out across San Francisco Bay for sights of Alcatraz Island, also known as 'The Rock'.

    Find our cheapest flights
  • Sunrise over Downtown Los Angeles. ©TerenceLeezy.

    Roll through The City of Angels

    Soak up the views of shimmering skyscrapers and colourful skies of LA.

    Book a stay at The Garland

Las Vegas – Hoover Dam – Grand Canyon – Phoenix

Best for: Canyons, valleys and mountains

The journey: 455 miles

Hoover Dam

Road trip out of Las Vegas to the border of Nevada and Arizona. First stop – the Hoover Dam. See this architectural wonder across the Colorado River and take in the views of the rocky canyons. You’ll also want to grab cruise tickets for Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. Go on a tour around the dam, but if you’re short on time, just pull over for a glimpse.

Grand Canyon

Once in Arizona, where better to venture to than the epic landscape of the Grand Canyon National Park? Pick up a map to pinpoint the best places to pause and soak up the jaw-dropping miles and miles of maroon ravines. Explore the area on a jeep tour or catch the almighty spectacle from the sky by helicopter. Brave the skywalk on West Rim and get ‘camera happy’ along the South Rim – which is open year-round, unlike the North Rim which closes over winter.

Where to stay: Set just outside of the Grand Canyon National Park, the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn offers the perfect opportunity to see an unforgettable sunrise and sunset across the maze of rolling valleys. If you still have energy after a big day, hit the bowling alley or play in the arcade. Looking to unwind? The indoor hot tub will soothe any aches.

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Make tracks south to Phoenix with a couple of awesome stops on your way. The Slide Rock State Park has natural rapids and slides for you to glide upon. Pack your swimmers and bask in the cool waters of Oak Creek – but watch out for the slippery walkways. When you want to dry off, wander along the nature trails and soak up the peaceful aura with the surrounding flora and fauna.

Just a short drive away is one of the most-photographed sights of Arizona’s natural skyline – Cathedral Rock. Admire this wonder from your car or walk around the base for a closer look. If you’re more audacious, bring hiking footwear and plenty of water for a trek. Parts of the trail to the peak are tough and steep, so be safe making your way up – the captivating views are worth it.

Cruise onwards through the fascinating scenery to Phoenix. Get your fresh air fix in this city and make the most of the outdoor lifestyle. Hike Camelback Mountain for unforgettable views at the top, discover the curious landscape of Papago Park and weave through the 50 acres of pathways at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Head over to Old Town Scottsdale for the eateries and breezy hangouts, then stroll along Fifth Avenue for the thriving art galleries and boutiques. Wander through Roosevelt Rows Art District to see the creative side of this urban hub. Swing by Seventh Avenue for the LGBTQ neighbourhood, colourful street art vibes and all-welcoming character.

Where to stay: Immerse yourself in the luxuries of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa. Splash in the two-and-a-half-acre water playground, tee off on the Championship golf course and play a few tennis matches. Unwind in the serene spa before a night at the open-air Center Stage bar for an evening of live entertainment.

  • Sunrise at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California. ©bukki88.

    Watch the mountains glow

    Catch a mesmerising moment, when you watch an array of colours light up your morning.

    Book a stay at the Ranch at Death Valley

Las Vegas – Death Valley – San Francisco

Best for: Surreal landscapes, sublime sunsets and an eclectic city

The journey: 709 miles

Death Valley

Leave the lights of Las Vegas and cruise through the epic scenery in one of the world’s hottest places – Death Valley. Crank up the air con as you roll across the desert landscape, since summer days can reach sweltering highs of 46°C. Make your first stop to see eerie abandoned buildings and ominous artwork at Rhyolite Ghost Town. Next? The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

Check out the 100-foot tall rolling dunes at sunrise or sunset for an incredible spectacle of colours.

Carry on to Zabriskie Point, where auburn and apricot hues blend across the rusting landscape. Record a time-lapse video here for an Instagram-worthy story. Venture a little further to Artist’s Drive and press start on your GoPro to snap up the views.

t Death Valle

Zoom onwards to the Devil’s Golf Course for a glimpse of the giant salt pan, then drive 15-minutes south to Badwater Basin. Tumble out of the car and trek across these sweeping salt flats in the lowest point of North America. Round off your Death Valley experience with a ride to the terrace at Dante’s View for mesmerising scenes across the entire valley.

Where to stay: An oasis in a barren land, the Ranch at Death Valley offers a luscious stay. Release some energy on the sports courts, then take a dip in the spring-fed swimming pool to cool off.

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San Francisco

Choose your route to reach the excitement of San Fran. If the wonders of the outdoors tingle your senses, head north along Route 395 for awe-inspiring wildlife. First stop: Inyo National Forest. With over two million acres of velvet verdure, rolling mountains and glistening lakes, map out a plan to explore the best parts.

Soak up the alpine scenery of the Sierra National Park during an exciting white-water rafting excursion. Brace yourself for an overwhelmingly lovely trip through the legendary Yosemite National Park with iconic granite rock faces, cascading waterfalls and heart-melting views. Park up and hike the almighty Half Dome for an impressive experience. (You will need a permit to hike beyond the base of the sub-dome, but you may be able to obtain one on the day.) If you’re tight for time, trek the Cathedral Lakes trail for views to soothe your soul.

Alternatively, cut through California on Interstate 5. Join Route 395 to Bakersfield first to stop at the beautiful giant timbers in Sequoia National Forest. Go bike-riding, hiking or kayaking to absorb more nature. Make a pit-stop in Bakersfield before reaching I-5 and stretch your legs with a short hike. For an adrenaline rush, join a river rafting adventure. Looking for something cultural? Head to Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace for a slice of yesteryear. Grab a bite at 24th Street Café before you hit the road to San Francisco. Open from Monday – Thursday, they serve breakfast all day.

If you’re a beach baby, cruise over to the Pacific Coast. Stop as little or as often as you like along Highway 1 north for coastal coves and surfing waves. As you edge closer to the city with Golden Gates, swing into San Jose for a whirlwind tour in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Whichever route you choose, you’ll arrive in thriving San Francisco. Visit the haunting skeleton of Alcatraz Prison on Alcatraz Island, tuck into dumplings in Chinatown – the largest outside of Asia – and jump on a San Francisco cable car to get about town. Find other fun activities with our guide on what’s free to do in San Francisco.

Try tantalising dishes as you stroll around the vibrant waterfront area of Fisherman’s Wharf. Just around the corner, make tracks to Pier 39 for a blend of entertainment – and keep an eye out for the sea lions that laze around the marina. A little further away, the San Francisco Ferry Building hosts colourful farmers markets and serves artisan dishes. Finally, drive over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, as an epic finale to your road trip.

Where to stay: Take a well-deserved break at the waterside retreat on Fisherman’s Wharf – Hotel Zephyr. Enjoy an idyllic location near a street tram stop to Downtown. In the hotel, socialise in the games room or kick it in ‘The Yard’ – the quirky outside lounge.

Book a stay at Hotel Zephyr