Top 11 Must-See Road Trip Destinations From Los Angeles

Escape Cadet Staff

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The Ultimate Road Trip Guide from Los Angeles

You’re here, I’m guessing because you’re just like me, smitten by wanderlust and craving a fresh adventure. Ever thought about initiating an exhilarating road trip from the heart of Los Angeles?

You see, starting here, we have an illustrious stretch of iconic destinations waiting to be explored, just a car ride away. The possibilities are endless, almost overwhelming, right? The question is – where do we begin?

Well, worry not, because I’ve distilled a list of the 11 best road trip destinations, from stunning landscapes to thriving cityscapes, all commencing from LA. This is the guide you were looking for!

1. Santa Barbara

The city of Santa Barbara is known for its lovely ocean views which adds to its charm and allure. Whether you’re looking for a captivating sunset or the perfect sunrise, Santa Barbara doesn’t disappoint.

Two must-visit spots include the Old Mission Santa Barbara and Lotusland garden. The Old Mission is a key part of Santa Barbara’s history. It is beautiful, serene, and full of interesting historical information. Lotusland, on the other hand, is a magical garden that takes you on an enchanting journey of nature’s artistry. No matter your preference, Santa Barbara offers an incredible experience for all.

2. Joshua Tree National Park

The gem of the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park, is a hotbed for outdoor activities. As an adventurer, you can’t run out of things to do. The park is known for its picturesque hiking trails that cut through unique desert landscapes, making it a hiker’s paradise.

Additionally, Joshua Tree also offers a thrilling experience for rock climbing enthusiasts. Its rough, rugged terrains form the perfect climbing walls for those who love a good challenge. Not to mention, the clear, light-pollution-free skies make for some of the best star gazing views on the planet.

3. San Diego

When exploring San Diego, one of my favorite must-visit places is the San Diego Zoo. As one of the most notable and expansive zoos in the world, it offers visitors a chance to see an array of unique and exotic animals. Don’t miss the chance to take in a show at the famous Wegeforth Bowl.

Next up, I usually head to Balboa Park. This cultural hub is home to several world-class museums. You can take your time to explore fascinating exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Art or the San Diego Air & Space Museum, to name just a few.

Of course, a trip to San Diego isn’t complete without a visit to the beautiful local beaches. Whether you’re looking to relax, try surfing or take a scenic stroll, the beaches in this city never disappoint. And before you leave, make sure to treat yourself to some of the most authentic and delicious Mexican food outside of Mexico.

4. Palm Springs

When it comes to stylish getaways, Palm Springs is at the top of the list. Known for its sleek, design-led hotels, it’s a dream destination for lovers of mid-century modern architecture. It’s truly a place where you can sleep in style.

The city offers more than just chic accommodations. It’s also home to natural hot springs that offer a rejuvenating experience, and golf courses that challenge every player’s skill level. And let’s not forget the Coachella music festival – a yearly event that draws crowds from all over the world for its standout performances.

5. San Francisco

San Francisco is a city bursting with iconic attractions that make it a top spot on every traveler’s bucket list. Let’s start things off with the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s quite possibly the city’s most renowned landmark, a marvel of modern engineering with a stunning backdrop of the bay and skyline. It carries both U.S. Route 101 and State Route 1 across the strait.

Another equally impressive sight is Alcatraz Island. Once a maximum-security prison housing notorious criminals, it’s now a fascinating museum experience where you can learn about its deeply intriguing history. And don’t forget that no trip to SF would be complete without a tasty voyage through Chinatown, one of the oldest and most authentic in the States.

Make sure to read up on these landmarks on the official San Francisco government website before your visit to get the most out of your trip. Remember, the city is brimming with excitement and fun, waiting for you to explore its unique character.

6. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is the perfect outdoor playground for adventure seekers of all kinds. With its stunning landscapes and diverse range of activities, you’ll never run out of things to do. For those who love hiking, the park boasts over 800 miles of trails, each offering breathtaking views.

But that’s not all. The spot is also famous for its climbing opportunities. Thanks to El Capitan and Half Dome, professionals and beginners alike can test their climbing skills on world-famous rock faces. When your day of adventure is winding down, don’t forget to relax and do some wildlife watching. Animals such as black bears, mule deer, and various bird species call Yosemite home

More about Yosemite’s activities can be found on the official national park service website. From hiking to wildlife viewing, there’s always fun to be had at Yosemite National Park.

7. Las Vegas

Ever wondered why Las Vegas is globally recognized for its incomparable nightlife, numerous casinos, and stellar entertainment shows? Well, let’s delve into this fascinating topic. Vegas is home to a multitude of stunning hotel casinos that beckon adventure seekers from around the globe, eager to try their luck and soak up the dazzling lights and energetic ambiance.

Equally enthralling are the city’s array of entertainment shows. From Cirque Du Soleil to world-class concerts, there’s never a dull moment. No two nights in this city are ever the same. It’s no surprise that Las Vegas has firmly established itself as a world-class entertainment capital. Check out this great article from to learn more about what makes Las Vegas so unique and enticing.

8. Big Sur

Have you ever dreamed of exploring unspoiled natural beauty? Big Sur might just be the destination for you. With its stunning coastal views, it’s a sight to behold. Imagine standing on a high cliff, gazing out at the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean. You’ve got the ocean on one side, towering redwoods on the other. It doesn’t get much better than that.

But the views aren’t the only thing Big Sur has to offer. It’s also a heaven for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting an array of hiking trails. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice, there’s sure to be a trail that suits your comfort level. And let’s not forget about the camping opportunities. What could be more serene than falling asleep under the stars, enveloped by nature?

If you’re ready for an adventure, consider making Big Sur your next destination. Just remember to respect the environment and leave no trace.

9. Death Valley National Park

When you set foot in Death Valley National Park, two key attractions stand out. First, there’s Titus Canyon. This place is famous not just for its vividly colored rocks but also for a spookily abandoned ghost town. It’s like stepping back in time and offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue.

The other must-see spot is Badwater Basin. This expansive salt flat gives the landscape an otherworldly feel. Looking out over the basin, it’s astonishing to see such vast stretches of salt crust below the depths of the below sea level basin.

10. Sequoia National Park

Known most prominently for its impressive giant sequoia trees, Sequoia National Park is a sight to behold. It’s particularly famous for the gigantic General Sherman tree. Imagine standing before a living entity that’s seen thousands of years pass by. Definitely, an awe-inspiring moment, to say the least. A visit here isn’t just about sightseeing, it’s about experiencing nature in one of its most breathtaking form.

Among these towering trees is the renowned General Sherman, one of the largest trees on the planet. This magnificent sequoia stands at a staggering 274.9 feet, as reported by the National Park Service. Some would say it’s just a tree, but when you’re standing at its base, you quickly understand why it’s referred to as “General”. The size alone is humbling, reminding us of our place in this vast world. (source)

11. Grand Canyon

One of the most striking and famous natural wonders in the world is the Grand Canyon. Millions of visitors are drawn to its grandeur and the unique snapshot of geological history it provides. The layered bands of red rock that compose the canyon are like pages in a book, each one recording a different era in the planet’s past.

The spectacular panoramic views that the canyon offers are world-famous. From the rim, you can behold the vast expanse of the site’s deep gorge, steep cliffs, and striking rock formations. It’s a view that’s hard to beat, making the Grand Canyon a must-visit destination.


We’ve explored the charm and beauty from Santa Barbara to Grand Canyon. Whether you’re drawn to the magic of Lotusland or the architectural magnificence of Palm Springs, the vibrant nightlife of Las Vegas or the pristine natural beauty of Yosemite National Park, there’s an experience waiting for every type of traveler. Understanding the history and uniqueness of each destination enhances any trip, and each of these iconic places offers not just sightseeing, but also heart-warming memories and experiences.

FAQ #1: Which destinations are rich in history?

Old Mission Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Alcatraz Island in San Francisco are particularly known for their rich history.

FAQ #2: What destinations are perfect for outdoor activities?

Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Death Valley National Park are great for outdoor enthusiasts. They offer activities like hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife watching.

FAQ #3: Where can I go for great nightlife and entertainment?

Las Vegas is globally recognized for its exciting nightlife, numerous casinos, and top-tier entertainment shows. It’s the perfect choice for an energetic adventure afyer dark.

FAQ #4: Which destination is best for relaxation and rejuvenation?

Palm Springs, known for its natural hot springs and stylish hotels, is the go-to spot for relaxation and rejuvenation. It’s the perfect getaway from your daily hustle.

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