Best Driving Route from California to New York

How long does it take to drive from California to New York? 

Well, that depends on the cities you’re traveling to and from. Los Angeles, CA, to New York, NY, is about 2,800 miles, but other locations can add several hundred miles to your trip. Driving almost 3,000 miles can take around 45 hours, not including any stops, so it’s a good idea to have a plan. 

Things to consider while planning a route

For a cross-country drive, you’ll want to plan your trip around places to stay overnight and any sightseeing you want to do along the way. For safety, it’s best to limit each driver’s time behind the wheel to no more than 500 miles each day and to break up the driving with stops to stretch your legs every couple of hours.  

Weather should be another consideration since you may need to adjust your route during different seasons. For example, in the winter, a southern route would be less likely to have icy road conditions. To see colorful leaves during autumn, consider a drive through the middle of the United States.

Cross Country Routes by season


Shortest distance from southern California to New York

If you need to make a fast trip, the most direct route from southern California (Los Angeles or San Diego areas) to NYC goes across the southern part of the country via Interstate 40 and Interstate 70, which is just under 2,800 miles.  

Estimated driving time: 41 hours 
Large cities along the route: Albuquerque, NM; Oklahoma City, OK; St. Louis, MO; Indianapolis, IN; and Columbus, OH.  
Sightseeing opportunities: Route 66 (known as the Main Street of America) or take a small detour to the Grand Canyon. 
Toll roads: There are toll roads in three states along the way. Visit Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Pennsylvania Turnpike and New Jersey Turnpike Authority for more information on paying tolls in each state. 

Quickest route from San Francisco

If you’re traveling out of the San Francisco area or the northern part of California, the shortest way to travel to New York is to follow Interstate 80 out of the state.  

Estimated driving time: 43 hours 
Large cities along the route: This route travels through mostly smaller towns, but there are a few large cities nearby including Sacramento, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; and Des Moines, IA. 
Sightseeing opportunities: Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest in Wyoming, Lake Michigan (Indiana) and Lake Erie (Ohio). 
Toll roads: There are toll roads in five states along the way. Visit The Toll Roads (California), Illinois Tollway, Ohio Turnpike, Pennsylvania Turnpike and New Jersey Turnpike Authority for more information about paying tolls in each state. 

Need to drive from New York to California? No problem! Just pick one of our routes and follow it in reverse. 

Want to take the scenic route?

If you have some time to spare, you could make the drive a fun family road trip. Just enter desired stops into your GPS to plan the ultimate vacation. Here are a few sightseeing suggestions that might interest you and your family. 

  • Las Vegas (NV) 
  • The Grand Canyon (AZ) 
  • Red Rock Canyon (AZ) 
  • Petrified Forest National Park (AZ) 
  • Yellowstone National Park (ID) 
  • Mount Rushmore (SD) 
  • Bricktown Entertainment District (OK) 
  • Route 66 Museum (MO) 
  • Gateway Arch (MO) 
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IN) 
  • Model T Museum (PA) 
  • Hershey’s Chocolate World (PA) 

Driving as part of a move?

Moving across the country is much easier if you can travel without being slowed down by a large rental truck. Using a service like U-Pack® means your belongings are taken care of so you can travel comfortably in your own vehicle. Learn more about how our cross-country service works. If you haven’t already gotten your free, no-obligation quote, use our online form or give us a call at 844-362-5303844-594-3077.  

Planning your drive from California to New York? Let us know in the comments what sightseeing locations you plan to visit along the way!