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Driving to Coachella from LA? These pit stops are ripe for Instagram selfies and exploration.

Written by
Christopher Rivera

Believe it or not, the great music festival that is Coachella is upon us. It seems like only yesterday when a countless number of Angelenos (amongst others) were clicking away to get their hands on a pre-sale pass.

If you are one of the many driving out to Indio from LA for either weekend of the festival and have some time to kill, there are plenty of pit stops worth checking out along the way. Whether you’re looking for that perfect Instagram picture or just want to explore some odd and truly unique landmarks, here are some stops worth making.

RECOMMENDED: See our full Coachella 2016 festival guide

Palm Springs Windmills

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Kit Conn

This one is a given. You can’t miss the darn things as you make your way into the desert cities. If you want to get up close and personal with the majestic energy machines, take one of the many freeway exits along the 10 and drive through one of the scenic routes—you’ll be able to get a windmill selfie in no time. 10 Freeway at Highway 62

Coachella Valley Preserve

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Tim Shell

This 3,709-acre protected area in the Coachella Valley just east of Palm Springs is Instagram gold. The preserve is a great place to get some hiking action in while discovering some of the desert flora and fauna that remains untouched by the human hand. Most impressive is the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, which allows you to get lost amongst endless beautiful palm trees in their natural habitat. 29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Rd, Thousand Palms 

Cabazon Dinosaurs

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/CityMorgue

They might be big and surreal looking, but these happy giants won’t bite. Just like the Palm Springs windmills, the Cabazon Dinosaurs are another monument hard to miss on your drive out to Indio. You probably think driving by these statues is enough, but it's definitely worth pulling over to see these towering reptiles in person (you can even climb up inside of them). There’s also a kitschy little museum next door if you feel like submerging yourself in some (questionable, hilarious) science and history of dinosaur life and fossils. 50770 Seminole Drive, Cabazon

Palm Springs Aerial Tram

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Matthew Field

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a slight detour en route to Indio, but it offers a 12.5-minute ride that takes you through Chino Canyon and to the top of the San Jacinto Peak (where great hiking awaits at much cooler temps, if you've got the time and inclination). As you ascend the canyon, the floor of the tram rotates so that passengers can get a view of both the city below and the mountain peak up top. If you’re scared of heights, just close your eyes on the ride up because the wildlife on top is breathtaking and your lungs will enjoy the pollution-free air. 1 Tram Way, Palm Springs 

Desert Christ Park

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr Commons/rperlin83

This sculpture garden in Yucca Valley was established at the height of the Cold War atomic bomb scare with the hope that the steel-reinforced statues would inspire a wave of global peace. Included in the park are crumbling statues of the 12 apostles, Martha, Mary, saints and angels, as well as a 15-foot rendering of Jesus referencing the infamous Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It's about 30 minutes out of the way, but it's well worth the drive to see these modern-day ruins if you have the time. 56200 Sunnyslope Dr, Yucca Valley

Salton Sea

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Tuxyso

This shallow, saline lake is located directly on the San Andreas fault—how cool is that?—about 45 minutes past Indio and the surrounding festivities. The Salton Sea was once a booming vacation destination for people in the '30s and '40s—now, the once glorified lake has been polluted by runoff and increased salinity, and all that's left on its shores are some eerie remnants of long forgotten resorts. Be warned—the concentrated odor of salt and sulphur might be a bit much to handle for some.

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