Los Angeles to Nashville road trip

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Experience roadtripping at its finest as you travel from Los Angeles to Nashville. After seeing the flashing lights of Las Vegas in your rear-view mirror, succumb to one of the biggest natural attractions on earth, the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, before leisurely continuing east along the Mother Road, Route 66, and beyond.

Hit Interstate 15 northeast from Los Angeles to make Las Vegas your first stop. While you can party night and day in Vegas, just the comfy accommodation and fascinating roadside attractions warrant a visit.

Then, find your way to Kingman, where you can either enter Interstate 40 or take the slightly longer and slower but much more iconic Route 66 east towards the Grand Canyon. No matter your pick, myriad Route 66 destinations await further east on the itinerary, from the unique Petrified Forest to Oklahoma City.

When you think the high engagement level must drop off, it doesn’t. Finish the adventure on a high note with a rejuvenating soak in Hot Springs, a national park off the beaten path, and music history in Memphis before saying hi to Nashville.

Map showing the scenic route from Los Angeles to Nashville
Click for interactive mode.
  • Total distance: 2,213 mi / 3,561 km
  • Total driving time: 35 h 15 min

1. Los Angeles, CA

You may think that you have seen it all already. But there’s always more to see and do in Los Angeles.

Highlights:

  • End of the Trail – Witness the sign that marks the traditional end of Route 66, conveniently located at the upbeat Santa Monica Pier.
  • Venice Beach – Spread out a towel on a legendary beach complete with basketball courts, a skatepark and a fitness institution, Muscle Beach.
  • Disneyland – Revel in the original Disney park, surrounded by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and all the others.
People gazing at the Hollywood Sign from Griffith Park
Goodbye, LA.

2. Las Vegas, NV

270 mi (435 km) / 4 h 30 min

As you approach Las Vegas, tick off the first highlight. Then, go big, or go to bed, before continuing your road trip adventure.

Highlights:

  • Seven Magic Mountains – Pause to inhale the desert air and photograph these colorful stacked boulders just off Interstate 15 south of Las Vegas.
  • The Strip – Follow the flashing lights to this renowned stretch of asphalt, where sprawling themed casinos provide the quintessential Vegas experience.
  • Hoover Dam – Say goodbye to Las Vegas and marvel at an eye-popping landmark along the Colorado River.
A as Vegas Boulevard stretch, known as the Strip, lined by towering casinos and attractions
Cruise through Las Vegas.

3. Grand Canyon NP, AZ

280 mi (451 km) / 4 h 30 min

Reaching the rim of the Grand Canyon, you can’t help but feel small. Be amazed by its staggering scale, trying to grasp its 18-mile (29 km) width, 277-mile (446 km) length and 1-mile-plus (1.6 km) depth.

  • Rim Trail – Contemplate the greatness of the Grand Canyon from the Rim Trail, easily accessed from Grand Canyon Village, where you can park your car and spend the night.
  • Hopi Point – Be sure to stop at Hopi Point, one of the most breathtaking overlooks along the Rim Trail.
  • Bright Angel Trail – Embark on the hike of a lifetime, venturing into the heart of the Grand Canyon.
Woman with a winter hat on a trail leading into the Grand Canyon
Consider hiking into the Grand Canyon.

4. Petrified Forest NP, AZ

203 mi (327 km) / 3 h 15 min

This stretch of your LA to Nashville road trip brims with nostalgia. Cruise along Route 66, singing to the Eagles’ “Take it Easy” as you pass by Winslow, commemorating the song with Standin’ on the Corner Park, ahead of arriving at Petrified Forest National Park.

Highlights:

  • Painted Desert Rim Trail – Go for a 1-mile (1.6 km) return walk, beginning either at Tawa Point or Kachina Point, and absorb expansive views of the Painted Desert.
  • Jasper Forest – Gaze across the namesake remains of a forest that thrived here some 225 million years ago.
  • Crystal Forest – Be mind blown again — now by the petrified forest lining the 0.75-mile (1.2 km) Crystal Forest Trail.
Road cutting through the Painted Desert, Arizona
The Painted Desert, a highlight when driving from LA to Nashville.

5. Albuquerque, NM

208 mi (335 km) / 3 h 15 min

There’s no shortage of fun in Albuquerque, a Route 66 town filled with history. Start in Old Town, founded in 1706, and work your way out from there.

Highlights:

  • Old Town – Tour Albuquerque’s historic heart, offering everything from shops and eateries to galleries and museums.
  • Albuquerque Museum – Appreciate the engaging art and historical objects at Old Town’s number-one museum.
  • 66 Diner – Come for the classic American fare or just the authentic 1950s theme — you have probably already figured out which route it’s on.
Open gate leading into a narrow pathway in Old Town, Albuquerque
Stretch your legs in Old Town.

6. Amarillo, TX

289 mi (465 km) / 4 h 15 min

Continue east along Route 66, cutting through the Texas Panhandle, with Amarillo an essential stop to check out. Backdropped by the type of vast open space that defines the Lone Star State, classic road trip pleasures abound.

Highlights:

  • Cadillac Ranch – Snap pictures of these ten graffiti-covered half-buried Cadillacs on the western outskirts of Amarillo, maybe adding some color yourself.
  • Route 66 Historic District – Get something to eat or browse antique shops along this mile (1.6 km) of commercial development dating back to Route 66’s heyday.
  • Cowgirls & Cowboys In The West – Embrace the American West in the best way possible, riding a horse surrounded by grand scenery.
The Cadillac Ranch backdropped by a golden sunset
Stop by at the Cadillac Ranch.

7. Oklahoma City, OK

260 mi (418 km) / 4 h

While you don’t hear a lot about Oklahoma City, it’s an excellent stop to recharge your batteries. Discover a modern hub where the spirit of the frontier proudly lives on.

Highlights:

  • National Cowboy & Western Museum – Be carried away by engaging Western history, with artworks elevating the experience.
  • Wheeler Ferris Wheel – Hop aboard the eye-catching ferris wheel that once, surprisingly, called your starting point, the Santa Monica Pier, home.
  • Arcadia Round Barn – Pop by a simple but highly pleasing Route 66 attraction, a red historic landmark dating back to 1898.
The white Wheeler Ferris Wheel by the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City
Power up in Oklahoma City.

8. Hot Springs NP, AK

304 mi (489 km) / 5 h 15 min

After the itinerary’s longest stretch, you deserve some prime relaxation. Bathing enthusiasts and national park lovers unite at Hot Springs National Park.

Highlights:

  • Fordyce Bathhouse – Step into this history-steeped bathhouse functioning as part visitor center, part museum.
  • Bathhouse Row – Reward yourself with a soak in the thermal springs at the Buckstaff Bathhouse or Quapaw Bathhouse.
  • Grand Promenade – Stroll the walkway that connects Bathhouse Row with a bigger system of trails.
Stone terrace in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Embrace a different, very relaxing national park.

9. Memphis, TN

187 mi (301 km) / 3 h

Cross the Mississippi River to enter both Tennessee and Memphis. Here, immerse yourself in moments that have shaped America, from politics to music.

Highlights:

  • National Civil Rights Museum – Learn invaluable lessons at the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was murdered in 1968.
  • Sun Studio – Tour the studio that so many music legends have come through — including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
  • Graceland – Travel back in time at Elvis’ grand mansion, uncovering captivating stories and surveying extensive memorabilia (including jumpsuits, of course).
Red-brick Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee
Stand where Elvis stood.

10. Nashville, TN

212 mi (341 km) / 3 h 15 min

Following a few more hours on the road, and maybe a stop at the Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum in Jackson, you arrive at the finish line. Nashville certainly is a great place for celebration.

Highlights:

  • Lower Broadway – Feel the high-spirited vibe in downtown Nashville, where honky-tonks (bars with music) show why it’s called Music City.
  • Grand Ole Opry – Celebrate that you have traveled all the way from LA to Nashville with the show that made country music famous.
  • Parthenon – Ask yourself if you really have reached Nashville, and not a European destination, at the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the Greek original temple.
Historic Lower Broadway meets towering shiny skyscrapers in Downtown Nashville
Yay — you did it!

Where to stay between Los Angeles and Nashville

We suggest putting some extra focus on picking a great place to stay for the Grand Canyon. If you stay inside or near the national park, you can effortlessly take in a sunrise and/or sunset from the rim — a breathtaking experience.

To be in the first row, you can stay within Grand Canyon National Park in Grand Canyon Village. One of several complexes, the Bright Angel Lodge provides simple lodging right on the Rim Trail.

Alternatively, the town of Tusayan offers accommodation just outside the national park border. At The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon, you can enjoy more amenities without having to pay the in-park premium.

Best time to go from Los Angeles to Nashville

While you can drive from Los Angeles to Nashville every month of the year, each season has its own character.

Late spring allows drivers to take in the sights when the weather is the best. Along large portions of the route, temperatures hover around 80°F (27°F) come May.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection if you plan a summer drive. It’s not unusual with temperatures hitting the low 90s (33°C) — drive with the AC on high.

Fall involves pleasant temperatures for the majority of the course and a potential bonus feature: The annual International Balloon Fiesta takes place in Albuquerque in October.

Winter can mean freezing days and snow, especially at higher elevations where winter arrives early and ends late. If you plan on hiking the Grand Canyon, prepare for icy trail conditions.

Los Angeles to Nashville road trip FAQ

How long is the Los Angeles to Nashville road trip?

This ultimate Los Angeles to Nashville road trip is 2,213 miles (3,561 km) long, taking 35 hours and 15 min excluding the time you need for the stops along the way.

How many days do I need to drive from LA to Nashville?

For the best experience, we recommend allowing at least 10 days for driving from Los Angeles to Nashville.

Which is the best stop between LA and Nashville?

Among many gems, Albuquerque stands out for its friendly, walkable Old Town area, where you can stretch your legs and power up in a historic setting before continuing east.

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