American cross country road trip from Los Angeles to New York

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A road trip is an unbeatable way to travel a country: Instead of flying over everything there is to discover, you get to experience all of it. On this epic itinerary, everything from star-filled cities and famous tourist attractions to empty deserts and picturesque green mountains are included. Get ready for an American cross country road trip from Los Angeles to New York that has it all.

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Route from LA to NYC

Our route from Los Angeles to New York is divided into 5 parts with different themes: Southwestern Dreams, Route 66, Cities of Music, Appalachian Mountains and Big City Life.

You find all stops from LA to New York marked out in theme-based colors on the map below.

LA to NY road trip map
  • Total distance: 3464 mi / 5575 km
  • Total driving time: 58.5 h

Why take the LA to NYC road trip?

In many ways, this cross country drive is the ultimate road trip to take. When you take it, you include several of the best American road trips in one great journey.

With so much on offer, picking a favorite stretch between California and New York is overwhelming.

The majestic Southwest is home to deep canyons and red deserts. Highlights in the region, such as the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, are otherworldly places to uncover.

Route 66, also called the Mother Road, takes road trip nostalgia to the next level. Along this iconic stretch, you find classic roadside attractions around almost every turn.

Further east, the sounds of blues, rock and country welcome roadtrippers. Memphis and Nashville are true cities of music to explore as you road trip through Tennessee.

Much quieter is the unique driving experience that the Appalachian Mountains provide. For its idyllic setting, the winding Blue Ridge Parkway is often referred to as America’s Favorite Drive.

But our route from California to New York is also for travelers who crave for some Big City Life. Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York City offer yet another dimension to the spectacular cross country adventure.

Pile of rocks at Horseshoe Bend during daytime
Morning light at Horseshoe Bend, Arizona.

Part 1: Southwestern Dreams (yellow on map)

Southwestern Dreams goes through the star-filled cosmopolitan areas of Los Angeles and Las Vegas before heading into the rural desert. Zion National Park, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon and Monument Valley are places full of natural beauty that will have a place in your heart and mind forever.

Go ahead and dream away, you are in the land of opportunity.

Three red rock buttes protruding from the arid surface of Monument Valley
Monument Valley on the Arizona/Utah border.

The driving distance in this leg is 857 miles (1379 km) with a driving time estimated at 15 h.

A. Los Angeles, California

When you think of the US as the land of opportunity, Los Angeles comes quickly into your mind. Many people have come to the city to try to live their dreams.

In particular, Hollywood has seen a great amount of stars rise and fade away over the years. Some really made it, while others didn’t — the way to the top certainly isn’t easy.

Nevertheless, the Hollywood sign, calmly watching over Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills, makes up a legendary first spot on your itinerary.

But for guaranteed success, there is a place in Los Angeles where people get their dreams come true every day.

Disneyland daily makes childhood dreams come to life. Saying hello to your Disney favorites at the huge theme park is a fun thing to do before the road trip kicks off.

Ahead of saying goodbye to LA, you should also visit the Santa Monica Pier. At the pier, stroll around, savor the bubbling ambience and take in the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

Suitingly so, the Santa Monica Pier sits right at the start (or end) of the iconic Route 66, America’s Highway.

The Hollywood Sign looking out over Los Angeles from the top of the Hollywood Hills during sunset
The iconic Hollywood sign looking out over LA.

B. Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Driving distance: 270 mi / 434 km
  • Driving time: 4 h

It’s hard to imagine a time when you weren’t allowed to gamble in the brightly shining Las Vegas. But the Nevada desert city hasn’t always been associated with gambling.

Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, marking the start of a remarkable boom for Las Vegas. The rest is history, and today the activity-filled Las Vegas is a given stop as you travel through the Mojave Desert.

Vivid roadside sign welcoming visitors to "fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada"
Welcome to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Don’t worry if you feel unlucky. As the entertainment oasis that Las Vegas is, there’s a lot more in the city to do than just gambling.

You find fine dining at its best and all the shopping you could ask for in Las Vegas. The shows in the city are great, and there’s more often than not a good concert to attend to — no matter what your taste is.

Las Vegas with its warm desert climate is also great for outdoor activities. The pretty desert surroundings are there to be explored if you need a break from the sometimes intense city life.

An interesting place to visit near Las Vegas, on the border between the states of Nevada and Arizona, is the Hoover Dam. The dam was built to protect from flooding and to provide water and electricity to the area.

It’s so huge that the amount of concrete used in building would be enough to pave a road from San Francisco to New York City.

In Las Vegas, you find most of the buzz around the famous Las Vegas Strip. But if you dig a bit deeper when you visit, you’ll find the charm of Fremont Street.

On Fremont Street, the original Vegas boom took place, meaning that’s where everything nowadays associated with Vegas really started.

The Strip in Las Vegas lit up by brightly shining casinos and attractions at night
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

C. Zion National Park, Utah

  • Driving distance: 160 mi / 257 km
  • Driving time: 3 h

After two cities, it’s time for the first national park on the itinerary. The famous Zion National Park is a great place for a hike to stretch the legs.

One of Utah’s famous 5 mighty national parks, Zion offers a dreamy setting for hiking. The contrasting red sandstone cliffs and green trees of Zion Canyon just make each other even more beautiful.

There’s a Zion hike for every ambition level. Riverside Walk is a shorter one that’s excellent for a casual stroll with the family, while Angels Landing (requiring a permit) is a thrilling strenuous hike.

More info: Where to stay near Zion

Overlooking view of greenery filled Zion Canyon framed by towering sandstone cliffs
Overlook in Zion NP

Extra stop: Home to the world’s biggest collection of rock hoodoos, Bryce Canyon National Park is another potential, jaw-dropping Utah park for the itinerary. If this is an extension you want to make, add 121 miles (195 km) and 2.5 hours to your road trip total.

D. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

  • Driving distance: 107 mi / 172 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

The next stop is another incredible natural wonder. Arizona’s Horseshoe Bend may be a rather quick stop, but it’s one sure to leave you in awe.

This horseshoe like bend in the Colorado River provides one of the most quintessential photo opportunities in the American Southwest.

Look over the edge from its overlook to see the flowing Colorado River at the canyon’s bottom. The sunlight reflected by the red cliffs and blue river — it’s a majestic sight to say the least.

Just remember that it’s about 1000 feet (300 m) from the vista down to the Colorado River; you don’t want to miss the rest of this epic adventure.

Sunset over Horseshoe Bend, an incised meander of the Colorado River
Horseshoe Bend at sunset.

Is this Grand Canyon? Even though Horseshoe Bend sometimes is called Grand Canyon East, it’s not part of the famous park. However, Horseshoe Bend is only a little over 5 miles (8 km) from the start of Grand Canyon National Park.

E. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

  • Driving distance: 10 mi / 16 km
  • Driving time: 0.5 h

The drive from Horseshoe Bend to Antelope Canyon is by far the shortest on the entire itinerary. In fact, it’s not longer than 10 miles (16 km) between the two.

Few geological formations, if any, are as mysteriously appearing as Antelope Canyon. Here, distinctive wavy canyon walls and thick light beams reaching the canyon floor create an unreal appearance.

It’s like something from a different world.

But keep in mind that the only way to access Antelope Canyon is through a licensed tour operator. Especially during summer when light beams are more frequent, these tours are highly popular.

Light beam reaching the floor in wavy Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope’s beams appear only when the sun is high on the sky.

F. Grand Canyon, Arizona

  • Driving distance: 135 mi / 217 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

There are huge attractions, and there’s the Grand Canyon. Every traveler’s dream, Grand Canyon has a length of 277 miles (446 km), width of up to 18 miles (29 km) and depth of over a mile (1847 m).

The Northwestern Arizona canyon is simply enormous, and our ultimate road trip from LA to NYC just wouldn’t be complete without it.

For your visit, you have two main options: Grand Canyon can be visited through either the South Rim or North Rim. Both parts offer those iconic viewpoints where the layers of rock never seem to end.

However, because it’s so massive, with dramatic elevation changes, the climate differs a lot within Grand Canyon National Park. Its highest peaks are bitingly cold in winter, while the canyon floor faces extremely hot temperatures during summer.

As the altitude is higher in the park’s northern part, it generally receives more snow than the southern side. This causes the North Rim to be closed during the colder months of the year, while the South Rim is open year round.

More info: Where to stay in Grand Canyon

South Rim or North Rim? This itinerary targets the always open South Rim. But if you prefer the idea of the North Rim (and travel in summer), simply fit it in between Zion and Horseshoe Bend; then go directly to Monument Valley after Antelope Canyon. Such an approach saves you an hour behind the wheel, but keep in mind that the lodging options are limited at the North Rim.

People gazing at the ancient rock layers of the Grand Canyon from a fenced South Rim overlook
Majestic overlook at Grand Canyon.

G. Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah

  • Driving distance: 175 mi / 281 km
  • Driving time: 3 h

The last destination of the Southwestern Dreams part of the road trip is Monument Valley, straddling the border between Arizona and Utah. Prepare for a landscape feeling unearthly.

Monument Valley’s red color and huge rock formations standing on the valley floor, known as buttes, dramatically characterize the area. Lower the pace for a while and let the magical surroundings put you under a spell.

Any movie fans around?

This place is where Forrest Gump so famously ended his cross country run in the movie. In Google Maps, you even find the Forrest Gump Point to make it easy for you to find Forrest’s life-changing spot.

More info: Where to stay in Monument Valley

Straight asphalt road leading to the towering buttes of Monument Valley from Forrest Gump Point
This is where Forrest Gump stopped running.

Part 2: Route 66 (red on map)

The second stretch of our perfected drive from Los Angeles to New York is Route 66. Called America’s Highway, Main Street of America and the Mother Road — it’s one of those truly special routes.

When you drive Route 66, running from Los Angeles to Chicago, you really feel that the journey is more important than the destination. There are things to see and experience in every corner if you just keep your eyes open and look for them.

In this part of the itinerary, you dive into some of the very best parts of Route 66 with cross country stops in Albuquerque, Amarillo, Oklahoma City and Springfield.

White Route 66 shield painted on the namesake asphalt road
Buckle up for Route 66.

Total driving distance in this leg, starting from Monument Valley and ending in Springfield in Missouri, is 1153 miles (1856 km) with a driving time estimated at 18 h.

Trip info: As the driving time is estimated as the shortest possible time from point A to point B, much but not all of Route 66 is included. For some parts, a parallel highway can be used as an alternative to Route 66. Therefore, allow some extra time if you want to remain on Route 66 for the whole stretch (a good choice).

A. Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Driving distance: 318 mi / 511 km
  • Driving time: 5 h

The city Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a traditional Route 66 stop and a great place to let your vehicle temporarily rest.

Old Town of Albuquerque is a beautiful area and the perfect place to stretch your legs. So park your car and enjoy the beautiful old mission church, public square and art galleries.

Walk by yourself or take a guided tour if you want more information about the history of Albuquerque.

For food and a fun experience at the same time, make your way over to Albuquerque’s 66 Diner. Here you feel like you have entered a time machine back to the golden days.

The venue features rounded counters with checkered black-and-white tiles, classic diner-bar stools, comfy booths and a vintage jukebox loaded with old time favorites.

And the staff contributes with their authentic looks — there’s nothing not to like about this retro place.

What to order? Diner 66’s cold and thick milkshake is famous. But watch out, you may get a brain freeze!

Classic diner-bar stools in front of rounded counters with checkered black-and-white tiles at 66 Diner, Albuquerque
Route 66 dining in Albuquerque.

In downtown Albuquerque, you find the KiMo theatre, a theatre and historic landmark opened in 1927; it’s a unique place for theatre, film and musical performances, but it’s also worth it to stop just to have a look at the historic venue.

If you’re lucky enough to be around in October, you should also fit in a visit to Albuquerque’s yearly International Balloon Fiesta. Imagine hundreds of hot air balloons in different colors rising up over the New Mexico landscape.

Countless colorful hot-air balloons flying under blue sky during Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque
Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.

Additional stop: Do you rather enter Route 66 further west (earlier)? Petrified Forest National Park, located along Route 66, is a unique stop to add to the itinerary. You find great places to stay near Petrified Forest in the Route 66 towns of Holbrook and Winslow (home to that corner in “Take it Easy” by the Eagles).

B. Amarillo, Texas

  • Driving distance: 289 mi / 465 km
  • Driving time: 4.5 h

The adventure continues on Route 66. After Albuquerque, it’s time to head further east towards Texas and Amarillo.

Amarillo marks the midway point of the Route 66. The perfect way to celebrate that is by visiting the city’s US Route 66 Historic District.

In Amarillo’s Route 66 Historic District, you get a throwback to the early days of road tripping across America. Think historic buildings with eye-catching signs flirting with roadtrippers passing by.

The places to grab a bite and atmospheric shops are fun to visit. If you want a Route 66 souvenir to bring with you home, the Route 66 Historic District is an excellent place to look for it.

Another enjoyable place to visit in the area is the Cadillac Ranch. It’s a roadside attraction in Amarillo, Texas, since 1974, consisting of half-buried Cadillacs with their noses in the ground.

These cars have been in the ground longer than they were on the road. Nevertheless, to see them and the piece of art they have become is an iconic road trip stop.

Graffiti-covered vintage Cadillacs half-buried with their noses in the ground at Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo
Cadillacs lined up nose down in Amarillo.

C. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  • Driving distance: 260 mi / 418 km
  • Driving time: 4 h

You notice that the drier landscape in Texas gives way for prairies as we are about to enter Oklahoma. Next stop is the state’s capital, Oklahoma City.

In the city, two fun and interesting attractions for your tour of the world’s most famous route are America’s only round barn and the cowboy museum.

Arcadia Round Barn in Oklahoma City is said to be the most photographed landmark along Route 66. Come here for appreciating the engineering details of the only barn in America that’s truly round.

If you’re history interested, make sure to enter the small museum to learn more about the barn’s past.

Another institution in Oklahoma City is the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The museum proudly collects, preserves and exhibits an impressive collection of Western art and artifacts.

It’s a must see for the Western fan, horse lover, art enthusiast or simply anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the cowboys.

Wild West exhibit, at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, portraying two men aiming a rifle
Oklahoma City.

D. Springfield, Missouri

  • Driving distance: 286 mi / 460 km
  • Driving time: 4.5 h

The itinerary continues with a last Route 66 stop. The itinerary goes northeast through Tulsa and then across the Missouri border to Springfield, Missouri.

Springfield is the actual birthplace of the iconic Route 66. It was born here an April day in 1926 when a telegram was sent to federal officials saying that the to be iconic number 66 for the route through Springfield was accepted.

Today, the cradle of the most famous route in the world welcomes visitors to the only ride-through cave in America and to the city’s Route 66 Car Museum.

A cooling cross country stop, Fantastic Caverns keeps a comfy constant temperature of about 60 °F (15 °C). Especially if you take your LA to NYC road trip in summer, this is a treasured break from the heat.

And Fantastic Caverns is a ride-thru cave, so you can see the whole cave from the comfort of a Jeep-drawn tram. After a lot of driving, it’s certainly appreciated to sit back and let someone else handle the transportation for you.

In Springfield, you also find the Route 66 Car Museum. At the museum, there are more than 60 vehicles ranging from Jaguars, Rolls Royces and a Morgan to admire — car lovers, unite!

Route 66 car museum when doing cross country road trip
One of many beautiful cars from the Route 66 Car Museum.

Part 3: Cities of Music (blue on map)

After exiting Route 66, it’s time to get to know the Cities of Music in Tennessee. Memphis is the home of blues and birthplace of rock and roll, and Nashville, which long time ago earned the nickname Music City, is the country music capital of the world

Total driving distance in this leg, starting from Springfield, is 499 miles (803 km) with a driving time estimated at 8 h.

A. Memphis, Tennessee

  • Driving distance: 287 mi / 461 km
  • Driving time: 5 h

As the home of blues and birthplace of rock and roll, you have some music history catching up to do when you visit Memphis, Tennessee, on your way across America.

The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum can help you with that.

Here, you explore the history of both soul and rock ‘n’ roll music, from the beginnings all the way to the worldwide influence. Musical artifacts help you to understand the developments through time.

At the Blues Hall of Fame, you can deepen your knowledge about blues further. This blues institution highlights its inductees in five different categories while educating and entertaining visitors about the genre.

There, of course, needs to be a Music Hall of Fame in Memphis as well. It showcases all the artists that have created the undeniable Memphis legacy and shaken our planet with their great music.

Beale Street during cross country road trip.
Beale Street in central Memphis.

Among all the renowned Memphis products, the most famous one must be Elvis Presley, the undisputed king of rock ‘n’ roll. He lived in his sprawling Graceland mansion, and today you have the chance to explore his home and heritage.

Marvel at the many artifacts on display, including platinum records and signature jumpsuits. Admire Elvis’ automobile collection, complete with a pink Cadillac and Dino Ferrari. To see how he made longer journeys, don’t miss Elvis’ airplanes.

Graceland in Memphis
Graceland in Memphis.

B. Nashville, Tennessee

  • Driving distance: 212 mi (341 km)
  • Driving time: 3 h

The world’s country music capital, Nashville earned the nickname Music City a long time ago. Get out of the car and savor its one-of-a-kind setting for yourself.

Day or night, you only have to walk in downtown Nashville and Lower Broadway for minutes to understand why the city is the uncontested country music capital of the world.

Bars, called honky tonks, let their music stream out to the streets, contributing to the city’s special atmosphere. Enjoying all the live music on Lower Broadway is a great way to experience Nashville — maybe the best.

To immerse yourself more in country music, we recommend visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s home to exhibits and artifacts highlighting the history and significance of country music.

Experience the evolution of country music, and see how the country genre has influenced many other genres. A stop here also further explains why Nashville is the center of the country music industry.

Then, what place could be better for a concert than Music City?

Jump to the beat at the Ryman Auditorium, a concert venue in downtown Nashville where many legends have performed. To hear colorful stories from when Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and even Elvis performed on the Ryman stage, you can also tour it.

For a country music show, consider the Grand Ole Opry, boasting to be “the show that made country music famous”. The Opry features a refreshing mix of country music greats and newcomers.

Music City of cross country road trip
Music City in Tennessee.

Additional stop: A really deep additional stop is Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. It’s the longest known cave system in the world with more than 400 miles (644 km) of explored passageways. The detour adds 110 miles (177 km) and 2.5 hours to the itinerary.

Part 4: Appalachian Mountains (green on map)

The fourth leg of the road trip takes you up northeast through the rising Appalachian Mountains. Start with the bear-dotted Great Smoky Mountains before you continue on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the picturesque towns of Asheville and Roanoke await.

Cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of America’s most scenic roads, is a great way to really get to know the Appalachian Mountains. It begins north of Cherokee, North Carolina, and runs for 469 miles (750 km) all the way up to Afton, Virginia.

Note that the speed limit on the Blue Ridge Parkway is never higher than 45 mph (62 km/h) and that the road, thankfully, is free from commercial traffic. This is a relaxing stretch, but it’s loaded with road trip attractions; make sure to budget your time wisely for all those verdant gems.

Cross country road trip and the Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains.

Total driving distance in this leg, starting from Nashville, is 475 miles (764 km) with a driving time estimated at 8.5 h.

Trip info: Because the driving time is estimated as the shortest possible time from point A to point B and there to a large extent are faster and more direct parallell roads, some parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway aren’t included in the road trip total. But for the best driving experience, allow a few extra hours and let America’s Favorite Drive show its full repertoire.

A. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

  • Driving distance: 195 mi / 313 km
  • Driving time: 3.5 h

After fun but loud cities, embrace the best of nature. Where Tennessee and North Carolina meet, the Great Smoky Mountains subrange of the Appalachian Mountains form America’s most visited national park.

From awe-inspiring drives to epic hikes, the best things to do in the Smokies take your breath away. Within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there’s so much beautiful nature to enjoy.

Cades Cove, surrounded by rugged mountain tops, is one of the Great Smoky Mountains’ most unique spots. The isolated valley, once home to settlers, is renowned for its timeless ambience.

Not only Cades Cove but the entire park is full of wildlife. Black bears, white-tailed deer, hogs, turkeys, skunks and raccoons are just some of the animals often spotted in the Great Smoky Mountains.

What about the origin of the Great Smoky Mountains’ name? The “Smoky” part comes from the natural fog that frequently hangs over the mountains, appearing just like smoke from a distance.

More info: Where to stay in the Great Smoky Mountains

Cades Cove in the Smokies
Cades Cove takes you back in time.

Route suggestion: Make sure to enter the Blue Ridge Parkway (its southernmost access is just north of Cherokee) when you drive from the Smokies to the next stop on the itinerary. From the scenery to the vibe, it provides a driving experience you certainly don’t want to miss.

B. Asheville, North Carolina

  • Driving distance: 37 mi / 59 km
  • Driving time: 1 h

Asheville, North Carolina, may be located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. However, Asheville is not only about the scenic, slow-paced, relaxing Blue Ridge Parkway — far from it.

Visit America’s largest privately owned home, boasting 178,926 jaw-dropping square feet (16,623 m2). The Biltmore Estate was built in the late 1800s by George Vanderbilt II and belongs to the Vanderbilt family to this day.

Then soak up the picturesque town that Asheville is. Filled with great places to eat, drink and sleep, this is the perfect stop to recharge your batteries before you continue towards New York.

The Biltmore estate during cross country road trip
The Biltmore estate in Asheville.

C. Roanoke, Virginia

  • Driving distance: 243 mi / 391 km
  • Driving time: 4 h

Roanoke appeals to roadtrippers who appreciate the mix of city amenities and tranquil surroundings. Framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is a destination where nature always is near.

Like Hollywood has its Hollywood sign, Roanoke has the Roanoke Star. On top of Mill Mountain, the Roanoke symbol brilliantly looks out over the city and the lush encircling landscape.

You can drive, hike or bike up to the almost 90 feet (30 m) tall star. There, enjoy a close-up view of the star as well as impressive panoramic Blue Ridge Mountains perspectives.

Just outside Roanoke, you find more incredible vistas. The most spectacular of them all is the McAfee Knob, a rock overhang perch on the legendary Appalachian Trail.

Do the bucket list spots never end on this ultimate Los Angeles to NYC itinerary?

The Roanoke star during cross country road trip
Roanoke’s star.

Part 5: Big City Life (grey on map)

Our ultimate road trip across America from Los Angeles to New York ends with the stretch Big City Life, capturing some of the most influential cities in the US. Meet the president in Washington D.C., stop by at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and finish in style in the always busy New York City.

Big city life
It’s time for Big City Life!

Total driving distance in this leg, starting from Roanoke, is 480 miles (772 km) with a driving time estimated at 9 h.

A. Washington D.C.

  • Driving distance: 240 mi / 386 km
  • Driving time: 4 h

In the center of the capital of the US, you find the National Mall. In contrast to your regular mall, this is a park home to eye-popping historical buildings and monuments.

A few of the landmarks in the National Mall are the Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial and, of course, the White House. History buff or not, prepare for a big experience.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Everything within the National Mall is available by foot. So take the opportunity to let the car rest while you explore not only the history of Washington D.C but also the history of the entire country.

And who knows, maybe the president waves at you when you approach the White House?

The White House in Washington
The home of the president.

B. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Driving distance: 142 mi / 228 km
  • Driving time: 3 h

Sandwiched between the giant New York City and capital Washington D.C, Philadelphia doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s hard not to be overshadowed by the enormity of NYC or importance of DC.

However, if you don’t stop by in Philly, you’re missing out.

Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell doesn’t make a sound nowadays, but its inscription “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” is as clear as it was the last time it rang (in 1846). Go to the Independence Hall and inspect the symbol of freedom with your own eyes.

If you have seen the Rocky movies, you also have seen the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. First get a picture with the adjacent Rocky Statue; then join fellow travelers jogging up the stairs just like Rocky himself.

For food, you definitely need to have a Philly cheesesteak. Maybe you have had one before, but they taste better in Philly than anywhere else. The thinly sliced steak, cheese, fried onions and hoagie roll — you’ll crave for another one.

Cross country road trip stop at Independence Hall
Independence Hall in Philly.

C. New York City

  • Driving distance: 98 mi / 157 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

You have now traveled all the way from Los Angeles to New York on an epic cross country journey. But the fun is far from over; New York City offers an abundance of more great places to visit before the trip is over.

In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell is the symbol for freedom. In New York, it’s the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. Take a boat tour to get out to the island for a close look at the towering landmark.

Statue of Liberty during cross country road trip
Statue of Liberty.

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world. Especially after an extensive drive — like this one — it feels good to put on your shoes, walk Brooklyn Bridge and admire the fantastic views of Manhattan’s skyline.

The skyscrapers on Manhattan are from different periods of time: Empire State Building and the Chrysler building are older buildings, while One World Trade Center represents the new.

Want a bird-eye perspective? Go up to the top of Empire State Building and savor the massive New York City from there.

Empire State building during cross country road trip
Empire State Building in NYC.

From Empire State Building’s top, you can see a green oasis in the middle of the city, Central Park. Stroll the park and find peace even on a busy day.

Crave for some art? New York’s art scene is outstanding and pleases the most picky art lover out there. There’s the Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art and, of course, much more.

The sophisticated museums meet a great contrast in the always buzzing Times Square. Here, the pulsating energy of New York City can be experienced day or night.

Where to stay

Bed down in Midtown to be at the heart of the skyscraper maze that Manhattan is. Or opt for one of the many other, less flashing New York City neighborhoods, each with its own unique character.

New York Times Square
Times Square.

Keep driving: New York with all it has to offer is a great place to end your road trip. But if you want to continue driving, consider making the trip to Niagara Falls, on the border between the US and Canada, for another powerful experience.

American cross country road trip FAQ

How long is a road trip from LA to New York?

This ultimate Los Angeles to New York road trip is 3464 miles (5575 km) long. Driving it takes about 58.5 hours, not including any stops along the way. It’s a very scenic route that encompasses many of the biggest attractions in the United States.

Is there a quicker route from California to New York?

If you take the shortest route and just stick to the highway, you can get from Los Angeles to New York much quicker. The shortest route from LA to NYC is roughly 2800 miles (4506 km) and takes 41 h to drive. However, that’s certainly not the most scenic route from California to New York.

Where should I stop on a road trip from California to New York?

Some of the most popular stops on our ultimate California to New York road trip are Las Vegas, Zion NP, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Albuquerque, Amarillo, Memphis, Nashville, Great Smoky Mountains and Washington D.C.

How long time do you need to take the LA to New York road trip?

We recommend setting aside 4 weeks or more to fully enjoy the LA to New York road trip. With an estimated driving time of 58.5 h, you drive on average 2 h a day if you have a full month at your disposal.

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