Created by Roadtrippers - May 13th 2016
Interstate 15 is one of the major Interstate Highways in the western United States, starting in San Diego and going all the way to Alberta, Canada. A few notable states I-15 passes through include California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. I-15 will also take you through some major (and majorly awesome) cities like San Diego, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Butte. Built to connect America's "Inland Empire" with San Diego County, located along the Mexican Border, I-15 helps fuel tourism from California to Vegas and connects Idaho Falls and Great Falls. There's loads to do along this 1700+ mile route, so here are a few highlights.
Since you're starting in San Diego, head to the Cabrillo National Monument to get a great view of the city skyline, the harbor and the Pacific Ocean. This monument commemorates the first time a European explorer set foot on the West Coast of the US (and does a good job of commemorating the Native Americans who lived here as well), which make it a perfect starting point, since you're about the explore the American West.
San Diego is a wonderful place to start your I-15 road trip. If you have a day or two, there are loads of outdoor wonders to see and do in San Diego, from the La Jolla Sea Caves to sunsets at the Newport Beach Pier. After exploring the city, chow down on classic diner food at the Ramona Cafe, or dig into unusual burgers at Tioli's Crazee Burger.
If you need a hotel in San Diego, the Andaz Hotel, the Indigo Hotel and the Hotel Vyant are all vacation-ready spots to spend a night or two.
910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA, US
San Diego has a long history of being a Naval base, and what better way to learn about it than at the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century? The USS Midway Museum is more than just an aircraft carrier, it's a living museum that lets you explore the planes, sleeping quarters, the engine room, the bridge, and tons more. Kids and adults alike will be blown away by the sheer size of this ship.
13455 San Pasqual Rd, Escondido, CA, US
Lets face it: driving can be stressful, especially if you're stuck in traffic coming out of the city. Live music, reasonably priced tastings, food trucks and more make Orfila Vineyards in Escondido, CA a great place to stop and take a breather while traveling. Plus, you can pick up some bottles of wine as a souvenir.
2120 Harmony Grove Road, Escondido, CA, US
If you prefer beer to wine, though, fear not: the famed Stone Brewing Company is on the I-15 route as well. Tour the facility, see what they've got on tap, and grab some food!
9350 Dufferin Ave, Riverside, CA, US
Pay tribute to one of the region's most important crops, the orange, at California Citrus State Historic Park in Riverside! The boom in the citrus industry was often referred to as "California's second Gold Rush" and it was an important part of California's economy for a long time. Here, you can stroll through orange groves and check out vintage farming equipment while learning about this favorite fruit.
via Juneberry Dr
16825 S D St, Victorville, CA, US
The California Route 66 Museum in Victorville is part museum, part gift shop, and even though it's small, it's a great look at the most iconic road trip in American history! Located in the former location of a popular Route 66 restaurant, the Red Rooster Cafe, the exhibits here are fun and ooze vintage Americana.
24266 National Trails Hwy, Oro Grande, CA, US
Next up is Bottle Tree Ranch in Oro Grande. The size and attention to detail at this folk art roadside stop is incredible, and it's a great place to stretch your legs. The work of one man, Elmer Long, the whole thing is made entirely of disposed of garbage and junk...but as they say, "One man's trash is another man's upcycled folk art wonderland."
36600 Ghost Town Rd, Yermo, CA, US
Calico Ghost Town in Yermo is a historic site that's been turned into a full-blown tourist attraction. The formerly abandoned mining town has a museum, gold panning, a mine tour, gift shops, restaurants, and even a campground, in case you really want to immerse yourself in Wild West vibes not too far off I-15.
Baker, CA, US
Snap a picture of the country's weirdest road sign as you cruise past Zzyzx Road. Then tell your driving buddies all about the town's crazy history: it was founded as a fake hot spring resort (heated by boilers, and not natural springs) by a crackpot "doctor"... and that's just the beginning of the weird story!
72242 Baker Boulevard, Baker, CA, US
Snacks can make or break a road trip, so stock up on fuel at Alien Fresh Jerky, a totally offbeat jerky shop. The kooky UFO theme and the delicious flavors (like lemon peppered beef and honey chipotle, among others) are quirky and absolutely delicious.
31900 S. Las Vegas Blvd, Primm, NV, US
As you continue along I-15, you hit Primm, Nevada, where you can visit Bonnie and Clyde's Death Car for a macabre photo op. Back in the day, right after Bonnie and Clyde met their extremely violent end, several fake "Bonnie and Clyde death cars" were making their rounds. However, it's generally accepted that this one, riddled with bullet holes, is probably the real deal. It's located at Whiskey Pete's Casino, and you can even see Clyde's blood-stained shirt there, too.
310 W Spring St., Goodsprings, NV, US
Pioneer Bar in Goodsprings is rich with Wild West history, including cigar burns in the bar left by Clark Gable, who drank away his sorrows here after learning about the death of his wife. The bullet holes in the wall were left from when a man was shot dead cheating at cards. And this place doesn't rest on its history, either: they make killer drinks and tasty grub like tacos, lasagna, and their infamous ghost burger.
1610 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV, US
I-15 is a major route for traveling to Las Vegas, so whether you explore the Strip or head off the beaten path, it's worth stopping off here for a bit. Try your hand at a different kind of game while in Vegas: some old-school pinball. The Pinball Hall of Fame is pretty much a museum dedicated to the arcade classic, except you can play with all of the machines. Each machine costs between 25 and 50 cents to play, and all the money goes to charity!
520 E Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV, US
While in Vegas visit the Burlesque Hal of Fame on Fremont Street; it's an incredible place to sample Sin City's sexier side. Dedicated entirely to the art of the tease, you'll find vintage costumes, an in-depth history, all kinds of props, and tons more.
And if you find yourself in need of a hotel in Vegas, the Artisan Boutique Hotel, the Flamingo and the Palms are some spots to look into.
29450 Valley of Fire Road, Overton, NV, US
While on I-15 definitely take some time to stretch your legs and soak up some beautiful scenery. Valley of Fire State Park is an incredible detour that features ancient trees, mysterious petroglyphs and striking red stone formations.
New Gold Butte Rd, AZ, US
Go even further off the beaten path to Little Finland, a strange patch of land where the wind has eroded the sandstone into bizarre shapes. You'll feel like you've left Earth for Mars!
Red Hills Pkwy, St. George, UT, US
Next stop: Utah! You can't really climb on the rocks in Little Finland, but at Pioneer Park (which is free) you're allowed to do some low-key bouldering and rock climbing while soaking in the beautiful views of the Utah landscape.
Leeds, UT, US
When you pass through Leeds, UT, pull over at Silver Reef Ghost Town. There's not a ton left here, but the museum and exhibits dedicated to this former mining town are really interesting. Several buildings have been rebuilt, so you can take a tour, or go solo and explore the area yourself.
State Rte. 9, Springdale, UT, US
A trip along I-15 just wouldn't be complete without visiting Zion National Park. There are almost countless reasons to make the journey out to this incredible National Park. The Subway hike, Angels Landing trail, the Weeping Rock, and tons of other hikes and features can be found inside this one-of-a-kind park.
Highway 148, Cedar City, UT, US
Nearby is Cedar Breaks National Monument, where there's a natural red rock amphitheater filled with strange hoodoos and gnarled bristlecone pines, all visible from multiple vistas. It's absolutely enchanting!
Highway 161se , UT, US
Detour slightly to Highway 161 and visit Cove Fort Historic Site. This popular travelers' rest on the Mormon Corridor was a stopoff built in the mid-19th century at the request of LDS leader Brigham Young. Today, it looks much as it did during its heyday, with historic exhibits and re-enactments. And, it's totally free!
50 W. Capitol Avenue, Fillmore, UT, US
Fun fact: for a short period of time, the capital of Utah was located in the town of Fillmore, and the Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum building was once just a small part of a bigger planned statehouse that was never completed because the state capital was moved. But today, the building remains standing as a state park museum. You can stop by and admire the building, and check out some of the displays: there's an old jail cell, a vintage printing press, the Governor's office, and more.
Mona, UT, US
Road trip stops don't always have to be parks and museums, and the Mona Rope Swings in Mona, UT are a tiny bit of old-school fun that provide hours of entertainment, relaxation and refreshment. Two swings allow the brave to launch themselves into the Burriston Ponds in Mona, just south of Provo.
1330 E 300 N, Provo, UT, US
Seven Peaks Water Park has everything you could want: a wave pool, a lazy river, multi-story slides, tube rides, speed slides, and more. Plus...THEY SERVE DIPPIN DOTS!
If you need a place to sleep off the excitement of the water park (and Dippin Dots), check out the Sundance Resort or one of the other nice hotels in Provo.
749 E 500 S - Hours Oct - March 9 AM to 5 PM -- Apr - Sept 8 AM to 8 PM, Salt Lake City, UT, US
There are some really unique things to do in Salt Lake City. Generally considered to be the only "visionary art environment" in Utah, the Gilgal Sculpture Garden is a small public park filled with massive stone sculptures which are all symbolic of Mormonism. Thomas Child, the man who built the garden, didn't start work on it until he was 57 years old, and continued to add to it until his death. It's an intriguing and serene place to take a break!
110 S 400 W, Salt Lake City, UT, US
While driving through Salt Lake City, check out the Clark Planetarium. It's free to explore, and it's only a few bucks more to catch a show in the IMAX theater or domed theater. If you're in the mood for a throwback, check out their cosmic light shows set to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, U2 and more.
And, if you need a hotel in Salt Lake City, check out the Grand America Hotel, the Salt Lake Plaza, or the Peery Hotel.
7961 Wardleigh Rd, Clearfield, UT, US
Over in Clearfiled, UT you'll find the Hill Aerospace Museum. With over 90 aircraft, this museum dedicated to Air Force heritage in Utah on Hill AFB is an interesting place to explore. It takes you through various stages of Air Force history, including WWII and the Cold War. Even if you don't know a ton about planes, this place is pretty fascinating.
8215 N Highway 38, Honeyville, UT, US
If you need a break from driving along I-15, pick up a day pass to Crystal Hot Springs in Honeyville, UT, just off Highway 38, and unwind in the warm, mineral-rich water! There's also a cold spring as well; try jumping straight into the cooler pool after warming up in the hot spring! They also have a year-round waterslide with hot spring water if you get tired of relaxing!
Red Rock Pass Bannock, ID, US
Greet Idaho by making your way through Red Rock Pass, an utterly stunning mountain pass, perfect for photos.
5th & Dillon, Pocatello, ID, US
Once you reach Pocatello, ID visit the Idaho Museum of Natural History. Located on the campus of Idaho State University, this little museum has exhibits on anthropology, Earth science and natural science. They have an awesome collection of fossils, and if you can, take a tour led by one of the students who help run the place!
130 NW Main St., Blackfoot, ID, US
What's a road trip without weird, offbeat, massive pieces of roadside art?! I-15's best is in Blackfoot ID. Head to Main Street to see the Idaho Potato Museum and Gifts. If nothing else, you should take a picture with the giant potato out front, but the museum is definitely worth a visit. You'll likely be shocked at how much the museum is able to do with potatoes... there are way more exhibits than you might expect!
850 Energy Place, Idaho Falls, ID, US
Many don't realize that Idaho has an illustrious history when it comes to energy. When you reach Idaho Falls, call ahead to the Idaho National Laboratory and schedule a specially-tailored tour of this groundbreaking facility, or head to Arco to tour the Experimental Breeder Reactor 1, the world's first nuclear power plant!
721 Bannack Rd, Dillon, MT, US
When you get to Dillon, MT, do yourself a favor and visit Bannack State Park. This ghost town is one of the country's best. From its short stint as the territorial capital of Montana, to its notorious outlaw sheriff, to the fact that it's incredibly well preserved, Bannack is a perfect example of a boom town. There are over 60 original buildings still standing, due in part to the fact that it wasn't totally abandoned until the 1970's, and you can even camp out here.
, Butte, MT, US
Next up: The Berkely Acid Pit. It might seem a little strange to make a road trip stop at an acid pit, but when else will you get to pose for a picture near a pool of acid? This superfund site, which was once an open pit copper mine, has an observation deck and gift shop. Too weird!
149 Depot Hill Road, Boulder, MT, US
Whether or not you believe that spending time in a former uranium mine will help cure you of chronic illness, a visit to Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine will only cost you around $8 or so. Spend some time down in the mine-turned-spa to find out of there's anything to their claims. This treatment center is one of only four in the country, the other three are also located right near by in Montana.
66 S Park Ave, Helena, MT, US
Montana has a booming local craft beer scene that's absolutely worth checking out. The single-malt IPA and Scottish ale at Blackfoot River Brewing are renowned, plus they have free popcorn and live music! Stop by and take a moment to unwind.
If you're looking for a hotel in Helena, there are some lovely options. The Best Western Premier Great Northern, the Red Lion Colonel Hotel and the Hampton Inn are all nice!
17 7th St S, Great Falls, MT, US
Real, live mermaids...in Montana? Okay, so the mermaids at Sip 'n Dip Lounge in Great Falls aren't "real", they're just costumed performers, but seriously, how often do you get to enjoy a tiki drink while watching mermaids perform in a tank behind the bar?
Sweet Grass, Montana, United States
Once you've reached Sweet Grass, MT pat yourself on the back: you've reached the US/Canada border on I-15! The fun doesn't stop here. If you want to continue into Alberta, you can visit Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, the world's tallest tepee, or the Southern Alberta Art Gallery!
The best time of year to road trip along I-15: Since I-15 passes through so many states, it's difficult to predict the weather through all the states at any given time of year. Especially in Montana, road conditions change frequently, though road closures are particularly rare. Winter can get quite snowy, but summers are high tourist season, so prices will be higher for lodging. Likewise, Utah is an incredibly popular road trip destination during summer and early fall, particularly around Zion National Park. From San Diego to Vegas, Sunday is the busiest travel day of the week, so plan accordingly.