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RachyMake it better by driving Las Vegas to Death Valley up the scenic byway through Yosemite to San Francisco.
Don't get me wrong... I love LA. I lived there for years and go there nearly every month. But the drive from Vegas to SF is amazing!!! Mammoth is filled with international tourists all summer long doing this exact trip. You will get soooooo much more out of it than driving to Los Angeles. If you already have a flight booked out of LA, then just do a quick flight from SF to LA, or Drive the Pacific Coast Highway from SF to LA which is also beautiful.
RachyI'm very stern on this. Do Vegas to Yosemite at least! You can drive Vegas to mammoth... I'll let you stay here (that's how serious I am) and you can skip SF and drive mammoth through Yosemite/kings Forrest down to LA.
OlimarI cant really help you with stops along the way, but New Orleans is fucking awesome. One of my favorite cities. Definitely spend a day or two there and just enjoy the music, foods, and crazy people. Check out some local street jazz performers (there are usually some good ones around Jackson square), The preservation hall band at preservation hall (Its touristy, but they performed at Coachella this year), The garden district is beautiful too (like the homes) but I dont know if you would be into that, and of course bourbon street is always wild.
There is also this one smaller area which is really like indie and less touristy and they have a lot of good musicians in a bunch of small cafes and restaurants, it seems like kind of a run-down sketchy area though.
There is so much more to do here but seeing as youre driving cross country you wont have much time.