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Road trip from Wisconsin to California

Hi all! Four friends and I are taking a mini van from North-eastern Wisconsin so to the Golden coast in early-mid August. Although it's only a 35-ish hour drive there, we plan on taking 3-4 days to reach SoCal, giving us time to make many stops for site-seeing and touristy activities. For the way there, we're generally following Route 66, but of course we're more than willing to stray. Once in California, we'll spend one week travelling the coast, from Laguna Beach to San Francisco. We'd like to spend 2-3 days in Los Angeles alone just because we know there's SO much to do/see there. For the drive back, we are planning on taking another 3 days but this time in more of a straight shot eastward back home. Basically, I was wondering what kind of interesting, unique things you all recommend seeing, either during travel or in California. Other states we're going to spend a lot of time going through are Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and maybe a bit of South Dakota and Minnesota. Also, if any of you have just general but easily-overlooked tips for a roadtrip of this nature, feel free to add that in!

Some more info: We're trying to keep this trip cheap, but if there's something really worth the money, we're willing to spend. Ideally, most of our lodging would be at hostels, motels, and in the van.

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