English (US)English (US)
Visit California logo
Marina Chavez

Rock 'n' Roll Road Trip

A curated playlist is essential for any road trip—but on this two-day journey, the music isn’t just in the background, it’s the main event.

Start:Watson's Soda Fountain & Cafe
End:Joshua Tree Inn
3 - 4Days,10Stops,217Miles
Buyenlarge/Getty Images
Daviles/Getty Images
Extreme Photographer/Getty Images
Courtesy of Visit West Hollywood
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images
Urban Cow/Getty Images
Pascal Shirley
Marina Chavez
Ian Dagnall/Alamy
Stop 1

Watson's Soda Fountain & Cafe

116 E Chapman Ave, Orange

California’s first drug and soda fountain opened in 1899 in the sunny city of Orange. While you can no longer fill your prescription for laudanum at Watson's Soda Fountain & Cafe, not much else has changed. The nostalgic decor (think: a marble bar adorned with carousel horses) has made the restaurant a popular filming location for period movies such as That Thing You Do. Keep it classic with a tuna melt and a chocolate malt, or if you want to double-down on the rock ‘n’ roll vibes, try the J Cash (chicken-fried steak and eggs) and add a shot of bourbon to your shake.

Stop 2

V Room

918 E 4th St, Long Beach

Southern California rock is more than the breezy Beach Boys and Sugar Ray. There’s an edgy underground, too—the region’s punk scene gave us Agent Orange, Social Distortion, X, and more. The go-to haunt for local punks, the V Room in Long Beach, leans heavily into this grittier style. Set your alarm—the bar opens daily at 6 a.m. and stays rowdy until closing time at 2 a.m. “Breakfast” is served all day. Try a Bloody Mary topped with Doritos and something called a “gas station meat stick” on top, or the Cinnamon Toast Crunch which mixes Fireball whiskey and butterscotch schnapps, served with a crushed graham cracker rim.

Plan your visit

Stop 3

Staples Center

1111 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles

This world-class entertainment center is where the biggest names in entertainment come to play in more ways than one. The 19,000-seat Staples Center is the traditional host of the Grammy Awards ceremony, and it’s also the year-round home to Los Angeles’ sports teams, including the Kings, Lakers, Clippers, Sparks. Snag tickets to one of the more than 300 events the center hosts each year or simply check out the impressive exterior as you stroll through L.A. Live, a 950,000-square-foot campus that’s home to restaurants, event venues, and hotels. Grab a bite at one of L.A. Live’s big-name eateries like Katsuya or WP24 by Wolfgang Puck—or enjoy some of the venue’s award-winning concessions like the crispy fried chicken sandwich at LudoBird. Music fans will love the Grammy Museum across the street, which features exhibits like In the Studio, an interactive recording studio experience, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame Gallery, which includes samples of handwritten lyrics by Bob Dylan, Taylor Swift, and others.

Plan your visit

Stop 4

Sunset Strip

8300 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood

The 1.5-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard that runs through West Hollywood is always ready for a raucously good time. Home to the city’s most iconic rock venues, the Sunset Strip is where the cool kids go to catch a show, party hard, and spend the night. Check the calendar at classic spots like The Roxy, The Viper Room, Whisky a Go-Go, and The Troubadour. Sip a cocktail or two from Pearl’s Rooftop or in one The Rainbow Room’s padded booths, which have been frequented by stars such as John Lennon and Billy Idol. Just a few blocks away, tuck in at the Sunset Marquis, a rocker favorite that takes its music so seriously it even has its own recording studio, Nightbird.

Plan your visit

Stop 6

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles

The Hollywood Forever Cemetery serves as the final resting place for many famous names, including Johnny Ramone, Chris Cornell, Judy Garland, and Mickey Rooney. More than a place to pay your respects, the cemetery grounds, located in the heart of Hollywood, host a number of cultural events as well. From late spring through summer, guests can enjoy outdoor screenings of classic films projected onto the side of the mausoleum at the Fairbanks Lawn. The Masonic Lodge also hosts intimate concerts and storytelling events.

Stop 7

Rhino Records

235 Yale Ave, Claremont

Located on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, the city of Claremont is home to a world-class record store. After opening its doors in 1974, Rhino Records has become a destination for music lovers on the hunt for rare or out-of-print vinyl. Spend a day sifting through albums or put yourself in the hands of one of the knowledgeable staff members. The general manager, Dennis Callaci, started working at the shop at age 18 and has been dedicated to Rhino for 30-plus years. The shop also sells a wide assortment of record players to find your perfect sound.

Plan your visit

Stop 8

Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway

1350 Ladera Cir, Palm Springs

Amid the white-walled mansions of Palm Springs’ Movie Colony neighborhood, Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway is the 5,000-square-foot residence where The King and Priscilla enjoyed postnuptial bliss in 1967. Constructed in four concentric circles and without a single square room, this home was featured as “The House of Tomorrow” in a 1962 Look magazine centerfold and is still one of the more notable examples of Palm Springs’ mid-century modern character. Nab tickets to check out the 64-foot built-in banquette sofa, straight-out-of-The-Flintstones rock walls, and other era-defining elements.

Stop 9


5240 Curtis Rd, Pioneertown

In the high desert about 20 minutes from Joshua Tree National Park, Pioneertown looks like it has been around since the 1800s. But these rustic structures were originally built as a tourist attraction and film set in 1946. You can stay in western-style rooms decorated with Native American blankets, cactus, and rustic furnishings at the Pioneertown Motel. Or catch dinner and live music at Pappy & Harriet’s, where Sir Paul McCartney once played a show.

Stop 10

Joshua Tree Inn

61259 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree

This hacienda-style inn, which dates back to 1949, sits just six miles from the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. Lovely purple wisteria drips down from the adobe overhangs extending out from each doorway at the Joshua Tree Inn, and the pool offers welcome relief from the desert heat. Guests staying in room number 8 may feel a creative presence. It’s where country-rock innovator Gram Parsons spent his last night. Guests leave notes and lyrics of their own in a bedside journal and a stone guitar sitting outside the door serves as a quiet shrine.

Plan your visit


Tag #VISITCALIFORNIA on Instagram to have your trip featured on our page.

Road Trip Snapshot

Learn more about the amazing locations featured in this road trip. Ready to plan your trip? Print the itinerary or map your adventure to get started.

Stop 1Watson's Soda Fountain & Cafe
116 E Chapman Ave, Orange
Stop 2V Room
918 E 4th St, Long Beach
Stop 3Staples Center
1111 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles
Stop 4Sunset Strip
8300 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
Stop 6Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
Stop 7Rhino Records
235 Yale Ave, Claremont
Stop 8Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
1350 Ladera Cir, Palm Springs
Stop 9Pioneertown
5240 Curtis Rd, Pioneertown
Stop 10Joshua Tree Inn
61259 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree

Car & RV Rentals

Trusted car & RV rental companies make your trip much easier

Avis Rent a Car
Enterprise Rent a Car
Hertz Rent a Car
Budget Rent a Car
Payless Car Rental
Zip Car
Fox Rent a Car
Sixt Rent a Car
Advantage OPCP
Silver Car
E-Z Rent a car
Midway Car Rental
Mex Rent a Car
United Auto Rental
Auto Distributors
Cruise America
El Monte RV

More to Explore

An ocean shore

Subscribe to our Newsletter updated

Get weekly travel inspiration, offers, contests, and more!

Subscribe to our newsletter to get our e-news updates!

Subscribe to our Newsletter