Road Trippin': Best Adventures Starting in SoCal

Looking to get out of Dodge for a few days or weeks? There are many options for road trips starting in Southern California, but check out the best ones in our top list of trips below! These trips work best if you leave from the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, or San Diego.

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

SoCal to Vegas
One of the best things about Southern California (other than the weather!) is their proximity to Vegas. This drive is about 4 hours down the 15 freeway, and you aren't a true Californian until you've done it. The greatest thing about Vegas is that it's not very far away, it's an easy drive, and you can stay one night or one week and still have fun.
Suggested Road Trip Stops:
  • Barstow, CA - Route 66 Mother Road Museum, Fake Train Station McDonald's, & Old Woman Meteorite. Roughly a 2 hour drive from anywhere in SoCal.
  • Baker, CA- World's Largest Thermometer, also about 2 hours away.
  • Primm, NV- Casino/hotel/rollercoaster in the middle of the desert, close to the state line. This is about a 2.5 hour drive.
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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

SoCal to the Bay Area
From SoCal to NorCal! This drive is roughly 8 hours up the California coastline. Take the Pacific Coast Highway for a scenic drive or drive further inland to speed up the process.
Suggested Road Trip Stops:
  • Solvang, CA- Cute little Danish town featuring quaint windmills and delicious pastries, roughly 3 hours from SoCal.
  • San Simeon, CA- Stop at William Randolph Hearst's Castle for a fun look at this historical mission and monument, this is about a 2 hour drive.
  • Monterey, CA- The Monterey Bay Aquarium is found in the seafaring town of Monterey, just north of Carmel. This aquarium offers family fun and hundreds of species of fish as well as interactive exhibits. This city is about 5 hours from SoCal.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

SoCal to the Grand Canyon
If the Grand Canyon is on your bucket list, don't bother flying - simply drive to Arizona! Driving straight through will take about 8 hours. You can choose which rim to visit- South, North, East, or West; but keep in mind that they all offer different things and are open different seasons. The most popular choice is the South Rim.

Suggested Road Trip Stops:
  • Hoover Dam, NV- One of the greatest engineering marvels in the world, the Dam is absolutely worth the stop. Get a tour for $30, or wander the Dam on your own. Either way, it's worth the trip to see this amazing feat! This is also a good stop if you are traveling to Vegas, as it is about 3.5 hours from SoCal.
  • Williams, AZ- Bearizona is a drive-through zoo between Flagstaff and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Where else can you drive next to roaming wolves, bears, and more? Don't pass up this opportunity to run with the wolves! If you go straight from SoCal it's about a 7 hour drive to Williams.
  • Williams, AZ Bedrock City- Just down the street from Bearizona is Bedrock City! This theme park/campground/photo op is Flinstones' themed, offering statues and stone age decor themed to fit the television show. Entry is free, but participants can buy knickknacks or opt to stay overnight at Bedrock City.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

SoCal to Mexico
For those who are feeling more adventurous, dare to cross the border into Mexico! Note that US residents will need a travel visa to cross the border, so be prepared! While Mexico is not the safest place to visit, there are towns where tourists can travel worry-free.

Suggested Road Trip Stops:
  • Belmont Park, CA- Located near San Diego, Belmont Park is an amusement park for all ages. Ride the rollercoaster or dare to try the zipline! Enjoy beautiful views of the ocean from Belmont Park, which is open every day.
  • Baja California- Baja California consists of the border towns between California and Mexico. Shop in duty-free Tijuana, relax at a resort in Rosarito, or catch tonight's dinner while fishing in Ensenada. All three cities are within 90 minutes of San Diego.
  • Playa Del Carmen, Mexico- A lively resort town with beautiful beaches, Playa has evolved over the last decade. You will find bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and souvenir shops just steps from the beach. Best of all, anything you could want is available at all hours
Wherever you travel, don't forget to prepare! Prepare for fun but also be ready for any car-related emergency. Don't forget your spare tire, battery cables, tools, extra food, and other roadside essentials. Road trips are the easiest and cheapest way to travel, but will leave you with wonderful memories of your adventures.

Author Aimee Engbretson discovered the cheapest way to travel after getting her first car in high school. She is a SoCal native, and has lived in Orange County for 25 years.

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