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The Ultimate New York to Los Angeles Road Trip for 2022

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Planning one hella mega-epic New York York to Los Angeles road trip itinerary?

If so then you’ve come to the right place my fellow road trip-loving friend.

Not only do I LOVE road trips with my whole heart, but I’m a born and bred local New Yorker who has 30+ years of knowledge to share with you.

After all, I’ve been doing long-haul road trips from the womb since my dad was addicted to driving and thought nothing of going from NYC to Vermont on a quiet, Sunday afternoon.

So, yes. I really do know a thing or two about planning the perfect road trip.

But, let me be the first one to admit that this insanely long New York to Los Angeles drive can be more than a little challenging to plan.

After all, there are so many amazing things to see and you only have so much time.

So, how can you possibly figure out where to stop, what to do, and where to stay during your Los Angeles to New York road trip?

And that’s where I come in. I’m here to get you away from the generic AF guidebook and help you as you road trip NY to LA.

This way, you can stop stressing about driving from New York to Los Angeles and can take some time to enjoy this trip of a lifetime.

Because I pinkie promise that doing a New York to Los Angeles road trip is 110% worth it.

So, kick your heels up and start dreaming of cruising down the highway in a bright red convertible – Thelma and Louise style, minus the sticky end – as we swan dive into the details of this New York to Los Angeles drive now!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

If you’re booking a trip right now then I IMPLORE you to get travel insurance – even if it’s not from me. 

After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed. 

Truth be told though, I’ve never traveled without travel insurance and don’t think you should either – especially since I think we’ve all had plans drastically change because of the pandemic. 

Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing. You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here.

When to go on your New York to Los Angeles Road Trip?

Deciding when to go on your New York to Los Angeles road trip can have a huge effect on your experience.

First of all, the landscape changes throughout the year. Do you want to see green fields, fall foliage, or snowy peaks?

Secondly, different activities and locations across the country have different seasonal opening times. After all, forests look hella different with no leaves on the trees, and it’s hard to ski in summer, y’all!

Fortunately for you, you’ve got options. Because regardless of when you choose to go on your New York to Los Angeles drive, you’ll get to see amazing landscapes, do fun and exciting activities, and stay in cozy and/or chic accommodations.

Plus, America looks great all year round, amirite? However, if I had to pick a season I would say late spring/early summer (May/June would be ideal).

This way, you avoid the intense crowds of the summer but still get to marvel at lush green fields and stunning swaths of wildflowers while driving from New York to Los Angeles.

How Long is the Drive from NY to LA?

The Las Vegas sign

Depending on the route you take, this NY to LA road trip will cover around 2,775 miles. Therefore, this road trip could take as little as 42 hours if you just drive straight through.

However, if you want to make stops and actually see some things then I would plan at least 6 or 7 days for your New York to Los Angeles road trip.

That being said, to really enjoy this New York to Los Angeles drive and make all the stops listed, you’ll really need around 21 days.

But, you can obviously adjust this itinerary based on your personal preferences/interests, budget, and the time you have allotted for this trip.

Pro Tip: The most direct route to Los Angeles will take you from 1-80 to Route 66 and then to LA.

How Much is the Road Trip from New York to Los Angeles?

It’s really hard to give you an exact number since it varies so much based on the length of your trip, where you stay, what you do, the route you take, the price of gas, what type of vehicle you drive, etc.

However, given that fuel prices in the US are currently around $4.58 per gallon and that the trip from NY to LA is about 2,775 miles, the total cost of a one-way drive to LA is $510.72 or $1,021.44 round trip.

And that’s JUST for the gas itself. That price does not include hotels, activities, food, and vehicle maintenance.

So, the moral of the story? Definitely plan to spend anywhere between $1500 and $5000 per person on your New York to Los Angeles road trip.

What states do you drive through from NY to California?

During your New York to Los Angeles road trip, you’ll pass through the following twelve/thirteen states:

  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin (optional)
  • Iowa
  • South Dakota (if you want to see Mount Rushmore. You could also go through Nebraska)
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Arizona/Utah (optional)
  • California

The Ultimate New York to Los Angeles Road Trip Itinerary

New York City, NY

Empire State building at sunset

If you’re gonna start anywhere, you may as well start in the greatest city on Earth!

Because whether you’re a local like me, or you traveled here to start your amazing New York to Los Angeles road trip, there’s literally something for everyone in the city that never sleeps.

I recommend spending at least 2-3 days in New York City. That way you can get a taste of all the best things to do in NYC before you go!

There are SO MANY things to do and places to see that are quintessentially New York City. You’ve got the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway, the Brooklyn Bridge, Soho, Central Park, the Empire State Building – and that’s just off the top of my head!

As a New Yorker myself, I’ve spent a lot of time seeking out all of the very best places for any and all tastes.

And if you’re flying solo, check out my list of the best things to do alone in NYC.

However, If you’re planning to make your New York to Los Angeles road trip as a couple, my list of date night ideas in NYC will have you feeling the love in no time!

Feel like stretching your mental muscles? Look no further than my recommendations for cool museums in NYC.

And if you want to save your money for a bit further down the line, then check out this list of the best free things to do in New York City right now!

Oh and if you find yourself overwhelmed by all these magical choices, or you only have one full day here before you hit the road, then take a look at my guide to a magical 24 hours in NYC.

It’s the Big Apple – and it’s time to take a bite! Or two!

Journey time: 0 hours – you just started!

Best places to stay in NYC:

There aren’t exactly any cheap places to stay in NYC, but my list of the best NYC budget hotels has plenty of good options for non-locals starting their New York to Los Angeles road trip.

If you want to see some of the best that New York has to offer, I can recommend some of the best upper east side hotels as well!

Best places to eat in NYC:

My article on places you must eat in NYC has something for everyone, as well as suggestions on foods for visitors to try for the first time and some food history too!

Gettysburg, PA

View of a historic cannon and some old farmhouses in Gettysburg, PA, the first stop on your New York to Los Angeles road trip.

Your first stop on your New York to Los Angeles road trip is the historic town of Gettysburg, PA. This is the perfect place for history lovers, and one of the most important historical sites in the entire United States!

And that’s because the Battle of Gettysburg – in 1863 – was the turning point of the Civil War. Therefore, the town is chocker box full of landmarks, locations, and museums dedicated to that iconic showdown.

So, head to the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center to learn all about the battle and the town. You can even walk in Abraham Lincoln’s footsteps at the Gettysburg Address Memorial!

You can also see the incredible damage from the Battle of Gettysburg on some of the buildings today, especially if you make your way to the Schmucker House on Seminary Ridge!

Now, depending on how much of a history buff you are, I recommend spending at least 1-2 nights in Gettysburg.

But it’s not only ancient history on offer for those looking for the best things to do in Gettysburg, PA.

So, when you’ve finished exploring the Shriver House Museum, the Seminary Ridge Museum, and the Jennie Wade House Museum, be sure to find and sample some local goods too!

And as you wander through the streets of Gettysburg, make sure to peruse the crafts and produce at the Oyler’s Organic Farms & Market, indulge your sweet tooth at the indoor Gettysburg Chocolate Market, or find a bargain at the Gettysburg Outlet Shoppes.

Want to test your deduction and problem-solving skills amidst stunning period-inspired decor? Then make your way to the 1863 Escape Room on Baltimore Street and take on the town’s first-ever Civil War themed escape room!

Plus, if you’re making your New York to Los Angeles road trip in the fall, try out one of the spooky Gettysburg Ghost Tours on offer, courtesy of the Gettysburg Paranormal Association.

In fact, there are lots of different tours to choose from, ranging from daytime tours through to layer night tours that are sure to be fun for visitors of all ages!

Journey time: 3.5 – 4 hours, though NYC traffic might make that a bit more.

Best places to stay in Gettysburg, PA:

Budget: Econo Lodge Gettysburg
Midrange: Hampton Inn Gettysburg
Luxury: Historic Farnsworth House Inn

Best places to eat in Gettysburg, PA:

  • Dobbin House Tavern
  • Hunt’s Battlefield Fries and Café
  • One Lincoln

Cleveland, OH

View of the Cleveland skyline in the evening. It's one of the best stops on the New York to Los Angeles drive.

Sitting on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland Ohio is the largest city in the region. So, compared to your last stop in Gettysburg, there are a lot of people here y’all!

Now, Cleveland kinda has it all: beautiful parks, informative museums, gourmet dining, sandy beaches, and the list goes on. So, it can be tough to decide what to do first while you’re here during your New York to Las Angeles drive.

But having come all this way from Gettysburg, my recommendation is that it’s time to get out on the water!

And with 147 acres of land and 9,000 feet of shoreline, Edgewater Park is the perfect place to start your checklist of fun things to do in Cleveland, OH!

After all, there are paddle sports, boating, sailing and fishing spots available, plus plenty of places to bring a picnic.

Just sit back, relax and enjoy the view across the water. You can even wave at Canada on the other side of the lake!

Ever heard of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Did you know it’s in Cleveland, OH? Well, if you didn’t then you do now!

This absolutely ICONIC institution sits on Rock and Roll Boulevard (where else would it be?) and has a huge amount of memorabilia from decades of musical history.

So, make sure to visit so that you can debate who does and doesn’t deserve to have been inducted! I mean, Drew Carrey did sing, “Cleveland rocks” for a reason.

In addition to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, fans of art and culture also have the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to enjoy.

There’s even the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, which is both fun AND interactive for kids and adults alike.

And if you prefer classical to electric music then head to the Cleveland Orchestra and count the lotus flowers in the decor of this almost 100-years-old building as you listen to classy pieces from around the world.

After you’ve spent some time listening to music, you might want to stretch your legs again. And the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and the Greater Cleveland Aquarium are both excellent places to do this while learning about the natural world (and before you continue your New York to Los Angeles road trip).

Or, just to the south of the city, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a great place for hiking, bicycling, and skiing in the winter.

All in all, there’s a lot to do in Cleveland. Therefore, if your schedule and budget allow for it, stay anywhere from 2-4 days.

Oh, and if you have a bit of extra time, be sure to visit the Cedar Point Amusement Park. Trust me, it has everything you could want from a waterfront entertainment complex.

In fact, there are 17 rollercoasters, a steam railway, a beach, and a waterpark – plus plenty of other side attractions for families to enjoy.

And, added bonus? It’s on the way to the next stop on this New York to Los Angeles road trip!

Journey time: 5.5 – 6 hours.

Best places to stay in Cleveland, OH:

Budget: MainStay Suites
Midrange: Drury Plaza Hotel Cleveland Downtown
Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton

Best places to eat in Cleveland, OH:

  • Salt (they serve more than that, I promise!)
  • The Cleveland Bagel Company
  • Fat Cats

Chicago, IL

The Bean in Chicago.

Chicago. The Windy City. I hope you packed a jacket because this place gets super cold!

This city is also even bigger than Cleveland. So. make sure to plan accordingly so that you can enjoy as much of it as possible!

And while 3-4 days should give you enough time to get a feel for Chicago life, 5 days would be even better if you like it!

First though, it’s time to simply take in the view after driving from New York to Las Angeles all day.

So, for an Insta-worthy panorama of this fine city, make your way to the Skydeck at Willis Tower or the 360 Chicago Observation Deck at the John Hancock Center.

And if you can handle the height (you’ll be over 1,000 feet up at either location!) you’ll be able to see the city skyline, out across Lake Michigan, and view panoramas of no less than four different states at the same time!

However, one of the all-time best things to do in Chicago is to take a tour of the city. But which one?

I mean, there are so many tours to choose from – many of which are brought to you using all different types of transportation.

Well, try to get out on the water by taking a sightseeing boat tour of the harbor, or learn about Chicago’s skyline’s history on an architecture boat tour.

Additionally, there are plenty of bike tours of the city for you to try. Heck, the Lakefront area even has a segway tour available. Or, just follow the river a la Pochanontas during a nifty kayak tour!

To mix learning with artwork and fun, make sure to try out a street art tour of Chicago. Because in addition to several larger pieces, there’s always something new to see!

You can easily spend an afternoon – or a whole day – on the Navy Pier too. It’s just a short walk from Chicago’s famous Cloud Gate sculpture (aka the big metal bean pictured above!).

In fact, this pier has a wealth of botanical gardens, an IMAX cinema, the 200-foot Centennial Wheel, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and more!

Plus, Chicago definitely isn’t short on museums either. I mean, the Art Institute of Chicago alone has over 300,000 different pieces and historical artifacts on display!

And in Jackson Park, the Museum of Science and Industry has a few larger exhibits, including a 40-foot tornado simulator and a full-size authentic German submarine!

Once that’s blown your mind, you may need to head to Grant Park to unwind. After all, it’s basically like Chicago’s Central Park! It’s also ideal if you want a break from the city and want to enjoy some open space before starting the next leg of your New York to Los Angeles road trip.

Pro Tip: Try to time your visit for July so that you can attend the Taste of Chicago Food Festival. It’s a huge event that will leave you with plenty of lunch options to choose from!

Journey time: 5.5 – 6 hours

Best places to stay in Chicago, IL:

Budget: SureStay Plus Hotel
Midrange: Claridge House
Luxury: The Wheeler Mansion

Best places to eat in Chicago, IL:

  • Kasama
  • Lula Cafe
  • Rooh
  • Soulé

Wisconsin Dells, WI

Natural beauty of Wisconsin Dells on your New York to Los Angeles drive.

It’s time to move on from the hustle and bustle of the big city to the slower pace of the Midwest. That’s right – we’re heading out west!

Sure, Wisconsin Dells might not be the first place you think of when planning a New York to Los Angeles road trip.

But, maybe it would help if I told you that this place has a reputation for being the waterpark capital of the world?

It would? Excellent. I thought so!

Now, this super popular Midwestern tourist destination is jam-packed with waterparks. Therefore, take your pick from Kalahari Waterpark, Chula Vista Resort Waterpark, or the Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park – just to name a few.

Although, if quantity equals quality for you (and these places have both!), then check out Wilderness Resort or Noah’s Ark Waterpark – the single largest waterpark and resorts in the United States!

Plus, these epic holiday destinations have a ton of other activities available to you onsite, including volleyball and basketball courts, hot tubs, river rides, bars, and even smaller waterslides for toddlers.

Yup, they’re great for people traveling as families, with friends, or groups of all ages!

What, want to get on the water but don’t feel like swimming? Then definitely opt for a historic Dells boat tour!

Check out the upper and lower gorges on the Wisconsin River and decide which is your favorite. Although truth be told, the upper gorge’s spectacular cliffs and sandstone formations might decide for you!

But, for a truly Wisconsin Dells experience, sign up for the Original Wisconsin Dells Ducks Boat Tour. It’s a truly unique experience that will take you into and out of the water from aboard one of their amphibious vehicles!

And since you’re here anyway, you’re actually on the doorstep of Rocky Arbor State Park. So, this relaxing collection of 144 acres of pine forests, hiking trails, and picnic spots will have you feeling the pulse of nature in no time!

But, you know what? Learning also takes a special twist in Wisconsin Dells! Therefore, try out the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, with its 175 interactive activities for kids.

There’s also Wizard Quest – perfect for lovers of fantasy! it’s here that you’ll find a 13,000-square-foot, magical theme park with a strong roleplaying element to in.

Oh, and as you probably already know, Wisconsin Dells isn’t nearly as big as Chicago. So, depending on your love of waterslides, 1-2 nights should be a good amount of time to spend in Wisconsin Dells before continuing with your New York to Las Angeles road trip.

Journey time: 3 – 3.5 hours

Best places to stay in Wisconsin Dells, WI:

Budget: Lakeside Motel
Midrange: Baker’s Sunset Bay Resort
Luxury: Delton Grand Resort and Spa

Best places to eat in Wisconsin Dells, WI:

  • Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty
  • MACS Macaroni and Cheese Shop)
  • Mr. Pancake

Sioux Falls, SD

Majestic waterfalls you'll find in downtown Sioux Falls, one of the best stops on your New York to Los Angeles road trip.

Just over across the border in South Dakota is where you’ll find Sioux Falls. It’s also a place in which you’ll find the most people in any city in the entire state!

Now, this bustling Midwestern metropolis rests on the banks of the Big Sioux River, which flows right through the city – creating some exquisite waterfalls in the appropriately named Falls Park!

So, when experiencing all the things to do in Sioux Falls, head straight to this park – near the heart of the city – to see this majestic natural phenomenon. Trust me, your Insta followers will be super grateful!

While you’re here, you’ll also find the remains of the old Queen Bee Mill – a rad seven-story building from the 1880s – and the Falls Overlook Cafe.

Yup, this stellar cafe was actually built inside the former Light and Power building – a structure that is currently well over 100 years old!

There’s also a 19-mile hiking trail that starts in Falls Park and makes a loop around the city. So if you want to really earn your supper, make sure you start conquering this extensive trail early in the day!

Additionally, Sioux Falls has a number of other fascinating buildings for you to explore, like the intimidating AF Old Courthouse Museum on West Sixth Street, complete with tons of murals or historic local events.

Further to the south, you’ll find the distinctly-shaped Butterfly House & Aquarium in Oxbow Park. It’s the perfect place for nature and animal lovers alike.

And during your visit, feast your eyes on over 800 different beautiful butterflies from around the world, as well as hundreds of species of fish, anemones, seahorses, and corals in the Dakota’s only public saltwater aquarium!

However, if you’re on a budget and want to take a break from spending money during your New York to Los Angeles road trip, then check out the totally free SculptureWalk.

Yeah, the creativity on display here is stunning and includes sculptures made of wood, glass, stone, and metal in the shapes of everything from dynamic hunters on horseback to dancing pigs!

Next, history buffs will want to head to the Pettigrew Home & Museum on North Duluth Avenue. After all, it’s a historic home from 1889 that once belonged to Richard Franklin, the state’s very first US Senator.

And Senator Franklin? Well, he liked to collect things, which is good news for us because this house is FULL of exhibits that showcase the heritage of Sioux Falls. Period furniture, natural history specimens, Native American artifacts, and more.

Also, much like Wisconsin Dells, you can get a good feel for Sioux Falls during a 1-2 day visit. Then it’s back on the road again as you enjoy this New York to Los Angeles drive.

Journey time: 5.5 – 6 hours

Best places to stay in Sioux Falls, SD:

Budget: Best Western Empire Towers
Midrange: Hampton Inn Sioux Falls
Luxury: Hotel On Phillips

Best places to eat in Sioux Falls, SD:

  • Carnaval Brazilian Grill
  • Sanaa’s Gourmet
  • Candy Cloud Factory (where you can try a cotton candy burrito. Did you know that was a thing? I didn’t!)

Mount Rushmore, SD

View of the incredible Mount Rushmore during your New York to Los Angeles road trip.

Ok, so you’re officially halfway through this itinerary for the ultimate New York to Los Angeles road trip. It feels appropriate to celebrate the midpoint with something spectacular!

If only there was something special in the area that feels momentous, or iconic. But I can’t think of anything.

Except perhaps for MOUNT RUSHMORE!

After all, how could I NOT recommend that you pass by one of America’s most famous landmarks?

Because the four presidential faces on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial (to give it its full name) are carved into the granite rock face of a mountain and are visible a viewing platform that sits just opposite of the structure.

Simply drive in, park, head through the gates and gaze in wonder at this impressive monument. There are plenty of information boards on hand that detail the history of the sculptures, in addition to several ranger-led guided tours.

But, when you’re done admiring the faces of George, Tom, Theo, and Abe, what do you do next?

Well, hiking and outdoor activities are the main focus of this region. So, there are several great parks, trails and peaks for you to explore, complete with picturesque scenery and views that will take your breath away.

So, to the southeast you’ve got Custer State Park, with trails for all levels of expertise. To the west, there’s Black Elk Peak, which is much more challenging since it’s home to the highest point in South Dakota!

And then a little further to the south – and on your way to the next destination on your New York to Los Angeles road trip itinerary – is Wind Cave National Park, which features one of the longest caves in the world!

However, in addition to all these epic hikes, there’s also amazing driving to do near Mount Rushmore.

In fact, the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway will take you along a huge loop that covers parts of Custer State Park, the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, Mount Rushmore, and the Black Elk National Wilderness Area.

It’s also just under 70 miles long and enables you to drive on some of the most picturesque roads in the USA. Just be sure to have fun going through the Needles Eye Tunnel!

Now, because of the time it takes to get to Mount Rushmore, you’ll probably want to spend at least one night in the area.

Yeah, unfortunately, you can’t sleep on the mountain itself. However, there are plenty of places to stay nearby before you continue driving from New York to Los Angeles.

Journey time: 5.5 – 6 hours, less if you’re stopping first and spending the night in Rapid City.

Best places to stay near Mount Rushmore, SD:

Budget: Roosevelt Inn Mount Rushmore
Midrange: K Bar S Lodge, Keystone
Luxury: Holy Smoke Resort, Keystone

Best places to eat near Mount Rushmore, SD:

  • Delmonico Grill
  • Tally’s Silver Spoon
  • Peggy’s Place

Denver, CO

View of Denver at twilight as you're driving from New York to Los Angeles.

Welcome to the “Mile High City” – but get your mind out of the gutter. After all, Denver is exactly 1 mile above sea level, which is how it earned this snazzy nickname.

Now, this city incredible is home to the Colorado Rockies and sits within 2 hours of the Rocky Mountains.

The city itself though is also surrounded by mountains. As a result, Denver is one of those epic places that perfectly pairs the hustle and bustle of big city life with the serenity of the great outdoors.

So, as a tourist, you get all the benefits of city amenities like museums, sporting events, shopping, and tours, while still being close enough to the wilderness to go hiking for the day.

And the best spot for hiking in the area is Mount Evans, which is the 12th highest peak in Colorado. Estes Park is also absolutely breathtaking and situated right near Rocky Mountain National Park.

Plus, both places can also easily be visited as part of a day trip from Denver since they are around 1.5 hours away from the city.

Alternatively, there are lots of green spaces and parks throughout Denver where you can relax and enjoy 300+ days of sunshine annually.

And did I mention that it’s a super trendy destination for foodies? Yup, the delicious food available just gets better and better every time I visit. Therefore, regardless of the type of cuisine you love, you’ll be able to find it in Denver.

So, for any fellow foodies doing a New York to Los Angeles road trip, Denver is a MUST! However, the city is also full of many cultural, artistic, and historic attractions.

Basically, there’s something here for everyone. Plus, Denver is a big city. So, make sure to set aside a minimum of 1-3 days to make sure you see everything you want to see!

And some of the best things to do in Denver – aside from stuffing your face – include hiking (duh), attending a Rockies game (or getting a tour of Coors Field), or visiting one of the MANY amazing museums.

For museums, my top recommendations are the Molly Brown House, Museo de las Americas, and the Denver Art Museum.

However, if you want something totally unique – and a little vain – check out The Denver Selfie Museum.

Okay, so it’s not technically a museum (despite the name), but it’s actually a creative space where you can take fun and weird photos of yourself.

Yeah, It’s the first place of its kind and is a great spot for any budding insta-stars out there.

In addition to being a foodie destination, Denver also has a long history with music and a vibrant modern music scene.

So, if you can, try catching a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. In the summers this is one of the all-time best concert venues.

I mean, between the acoustics and the view, you’ll never want to leave.

Journey time: 6 – 6.5 hours, the quickest route is through Wyoming rather than Nebraska, it’s also the more scenic route.

Best places to stay in Denver, CO:

Budget: Tru By Hilton Denver South Park Meadows
Midrange: Queen Anne Bed And Breakfast
Luxury: The Ramble Hotel

Best places to eat in Denver, CO:

Yes, yes this list is longer than any other on this New York to Los Angeles road trip itinerary. But, look, I did warn you that Denver is basically a haven for foodies, and I am undeniably a foodie.

  • El Taco de Mexico
  • House of Bread
  • Somebody People
  • Twansburger
  • Kaos Pizzeria
  • The Wolf’s Tailor
  • J’s Noodles Star Thai
  • Pho 95
  • Bang Up To The Elephant!

Moab, UT

Sun setting on the incredible red rock formations in and around Moab, Utah.

Make sure you don’t get your fill of hiking in Denver because the next two destinations are ALL ABOUT exploring the great outdoors.

And that’s mainly because next up on this drive from New York to Los Angeles is Moab, Utah.

In fact, it’s located along the Colorado River and is known for being a gateway to two of the country’s most iconic national parks: Canyonlands and Arches.

Additionally, there are multiple super cool and unique red rock formations nearby that are perfect for hiking and admiring – the most impressive of which is Corona Arch.

Oh, and did I mention the sunsets? Or, for that matter, the sunrises – but honestly, who’s awake for those?

So, if you want to see some of the most stunning sunsets (or sunrises!) in the entire USA during your New York to Los Angeles road trip, then Moab is where you can make that happen.

Because this whole area is a nature lover’s dream. I mean, everywhere you turn you’ll come face-to-face with another next-level awesome hiking opportunity.

Moab also happens to be home to one of the most popular mountain biking trails in the country, Slickrock Trail.

However, there are numerous other bike trails in the area, and even a few great spots for off-roading. One of the best is Hell’s Revenge, a treacherous 6.5-mile trail for 4×4 vehicles.

And while this region is known for its striking red rock formations, that’s not all there is to see.

Therefore, spand an afternoon strolling along the boardwalk at the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve. After all, these wetlands are home to over 200 different species of birds, amphibians, and mammals.

For a touch of culture and history, stop by the Moab Museum to learn about the area (like how it was originally founded by Mormons) before hitting up Moab Giants interactive dinosaur park.

You can also take a hot air balloon ride above Canyonlands, go camping in the gorgeous Moab Valley, search for ancient petroglyphs, or go white water rafting down the Colorado River.

Alternatively, check out the city’s street art and snap some photos for insta.

Honestly, though, this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what to do in Moab, not to mention that you can easily spend multiple days exploring both arches and Canyonlands national parks.

So, on your New York to Los Angeles road trip, you really want to ensure you see as much of this beautiful region as possible. Therefore, spend at least 2-3 days in Moab to really soak it all in.

Journey time: 5.5 hours, but I recommend stopping off in Grand Junction for a meal and ONE glass of wine at The Winery Restaurant. Grand Junction is Colorado’s wine country, and one of the top wine destinations in the USA.

Best places to stay in Moab, UT:

Budget: Adventure Inn & Motel
Midrange: Big Horn Lodge
Luxury: Under Canvas Moab

Best places to eat in Moab, UT:

  • Moab Kitchen
  • Singha Thai Cuisine
  • Pasta Jay’s

Grand Canyon, AZ

If this place doesn’t leave you speechless, you’re on the wrong Los Angeles to New York road trip, my friend!

Because the Grand Canyon is world-famous for a reason. And I know for a fact that you have definitely heard of it!

Stretching for 277 miles along a path carved by the Colorado River, this colossal natural formation can get up to 18 miles wide and over 6,000 feet deep!

As a result, it attracts over 5 million visitors annually. And you’ll be one of them!

Now, we know that the Grand Canyon is hella big. So, what’s the best way to hike through the region?

Well, the most popular route for visitors is the South Rim Trail. At 13 miles long, this paved road stays pretty level, which makes it perfect for all skill and experience levels.

It also passes through some of the best viewpoints in the Grand Canyon, including Powell Point, Yavapai Point, and Mather Point. So, get ready to snap some super memorable selfies people!

For a less popular (and so less crowded) trail though, try the Hermit Trail in the South Rim. It’s only 5 miles in total, and is an out and back trail that starts near Santa Maria Spring.

On the North Rim (which is much less crowded and perfect if you hate crowds), the Widforss Point Trail is 10 miles long and will take you through some shaded wooded areas. And while it’s not for beginners, the view at Widforss Point is spectacular!

One thing to remember: if you’re taking your New York to Los Angeles road trip in the fall or the winter, be aware that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon closes during the winter, while the South Rim is open year-round.

Like with Mount Rushmore, there are some great roads to drive near the Grand Canyon as well.

So, heading from Grand Canyon Village in the south towards the East Entrance will take you along 20 miles of highway with breathtaking views along the rim of the canyon.

Pro Tip: Be extra careful when standing near the edge of the canyon. Many parts of the canyon are undercut, and standing near the edge can be super dangerous unless you’re in a designated area.

Journey time: 5.5 – 6 hours to get to the southern end of the Grand Canyon (to get to the North Rim will take another 4+ hours)

Best places to stay near Grand Canyon, AZ:

Budget: Grand Canyon Inn
Midrange: Red Feather Lodge
Luxury: The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

Best places to eat near Grand Canyon, AZ:

  • Fred Harvey Burger
  • Mazwik Pizza Pub
  • Bright Angel Fountain

Las Vegas, NV

View of Las Vegas as you go on a Los Angeles to New York road trip.

VEGAS, BABY!

Ok, glad I got that out of my system.

But it’s hard not to get excited about Las Vegas – it’s the entertainment capital of the world!

The lights, the legends, the shows … the list goes on. Heck, even Elvis sang a song about how amazing it is! And you really can’t get any more iconic than that, y’all!

So let’s talk about the best things to do in Las Vegas!

Of course, no trip to Vegas would be complete without heading to the Las Vegas Strip! Located on Las Vegas Boulevard, here you can find the greatest spectacles that this city has to offer.

From the dancing fountains of the Bellagio Hotel to the Caesars Palace Colosseum, the Allegiant Stadium and the Fabulous Las Vegas sign, this single stretch of road has enough pizazz to take your breath away!

And inside these glamorous buildings are glamorous performances from celebrity singers, magicians, and various other performers who have residencies here.

So, regardless of when you plan your New York to Los Angeles road trip, someone iconic will be lighting up the stage here as you pass through, guaranteed!

But, Vegas is more than just one street. And just like its reputation, some of the things you can do here are larger than life!

For example, ever wanted to drive a Tonka truck? That’s right: those of us who played with toy bulldozers as kids can now have our dreams come true at Dig This!

Because just to the south of Las Vegas Boulevard you can find this sandbox playground for adults and teenagers, where you can drive real life-size excavators and bulldozers.

Now you too can dig trenches and stack giant tires to your heart’s content. Bet you didn’t expect to be able to do that in Vegas!

Now, how long you stay in Las Vegas is obviously up to you. But, considering the draw of the casinos, it might be best not to spend more than 1 to 2 nights in sin city.

Journey time: 4.5 hours from the South Rim area of the Grand Canyon.

Best places to stay in Las Vegas, NV:

Budget: Bally’s Las Vegas
Midrange: Platinum Hotel
Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel

Best places to eat in Las Vegas, NV:

  • Pizza Rock
  • Tacos El Gordo
  • Peppermill Restaurant
  • Gordon Ramsay Steak

Los Angeles, CA

Palm trees and Los Angeles skyline

You made it! You completed your New York to Los Angeles road trip and arrived at your final destination.

Now that you’re in Los Angeles, you can stay as long as you like (or are able). But, I recommend at least 5 days! After all, the City of Angels is the second-largest city in the USA.

And not only is it large, but it isn’t the easiest place to get around. In fact, LA traffic is a NIGHTMARE. So, what I’m saying is that you should leave yourself plenty of time to see this amazing city.

I mean, what even is the point of a New York to Los Angeles road trip if you’re not gonna at least enjoy Los Angeles for a bit?

And once you get past the traffic and the smog, LA is pretty amazing. So what are the best things to do in Los Angeles?

Well, no trip to LA is complete with a walk down Hollywood Boulevard. This is where you’ll find the Walk of Fame and where you can see if you can find your favorite actors’ stars!

As an added bonus, this is one of the best free things to do in Los Angeles – and believe me, this city can get expensive.

Luckily for you though, there are actually a lot of great free things to do. One of my favorites is the Griffith Observatory.

The observatory also pairs nicely with a hike up to the infamous Hollywood sign. The hike for the sign starts in the same parking lot, but heads in the opposite direction for about 3 miles.

If you’re not interested in the sign though, you can just visit the observatory on its own. Trust me, it really is a must since this place is home to some of THE best views of Los Angeles.

In fact, the view is particularly spectacular at night.

But it’s not just about the view, make sure to pop into the actual observatory. You can stargaze in the planetarium or just learn a bit about space. And it’s totally free!

Other amazing things to do here include the Getty Center, the Mosaic Tile House, and The Japanese Garden. And, of course, you can’t forget about the LA beaches and incredible nightlife!

Journey time: 4 – 5 hours, plan for traffic jams once you hit LA.

Best places to stay in Los Angeles, CA:

Budget: 8th and Ardmore – Hostel
Midrange: Bluestem Hotel Torrance – Los Angeles, Ascend Hotel Collection
Luxury: Luskin Hotel

Best places to eat in Los Angeles, CA:

  • Better Than Sex – A Dessert Restaurant (obviously this is your girl’s fave LA restaurant)
  • Bestia
  • Crossroads Kitchen
  • Eat This Cafe

Map of this New York to Los Angeles Road Trip

Map of the New York to Los Angeles road trip itinerary.
Click here for the full map.

Additional Resources You’ll Love

There you have it! That just about wraps up this epic guide to the ultimate New York to Los Angeles road trip itinerary.

Tell me, did your fave stops along the Los Angeles to New York road trip make the cut? If not then let me know in the comments below.

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