How to Travel From San Francisco to New York by Plane, Train, Car, or Bus

Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan

Nico de Pasquale Photography / Getty Images

San Francisco and New York, two of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S., are located 2,908 miles (4,680 kilometers) apart on the country's opposite coasts. There are various ways to travel between the two cities. Adventurers may not mind a lengthy two or three-day journey by car, bus, or train, but flying is the cheapest and quickest option to get to The Big Apple.

  Time Cost Best For
Plane 5 hours, 30 minutes from $136 Quicker trip
Car 45 hours 2,908 miles (4,680 kilometers) Exploring as you please
Train 74 hours from $306 An adventure
Bus 74 hours from $318 Enjoying the scenery

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From San Francisco to New York?

The cheapest way to get from San Francisco to New York is to fly. Flights start at $136 one way from San Francisco International Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Many airlines fly this roughly 5 hour, 30-minute route directly or with stops every day, including Delta, JetBlue Airways, Alaska, and American Airlines.

Buying tickets online or by phone in advance may be less expensive. You may also find a cheaper flight leaving from San Jose or Oakland in California, or landing in Newark, New Jersey. However, it may not be worth the extra time spent getting to those farther airports.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From San Francisco to New York?

The least expensive way to get from San Francisco to New York is also the fastest. While taking the bus or train, or driving between the West Coast and the East Coast can take at least two or three days, you can fly to New York in about 5 hours, 30 minutes. The speediest travel routes are typically between San Francisco International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

To drive from San Francisco to New York will take about 43 hours. The time can vary significantly depending on the stops you make, as well as any unfavorable weather and traffic you encounter. It is a fairly direct route along Interstate 80 East.

Parking in Manhattan isn't always easy, but there are parking garages, which typically charge high prices. You can reserve a spot using the app BestParking. Street parking usually has meters. Watch out for street signs pointing out certain days that parking is prohibited.

How Long Is the Train Ride?

There is no direct train from San Francisco to New York, but with some patience, you can get to Manhattan in about 74 hours. The first step is an Amtrak California Zephyr train from the Richmond Amtrak/BART Station about 30 minutes from San Francisco. Amtrak will drop you off at Chicago Union Station after about 2 days, 3 hours. The second leg of the journey entails boarding a 20-hour train to New York Penn Station. Prices begin at $309 for the trip. Both trains leave just once a day, so it is best to reserve in advance.

Is There a Bus That Goes From San Francisco to New York?

Like the train, a bus (from $318) from San Francisco to New York takes approximately 74 hours. You will start with a 20-minute AC Transit bus, which leaves every 30 minutes from Salesforce Transit Center Bay in San Francisco to Thomas L Berkley Way in Oakland. The next step is taking a 13 hour, 20-minute Greyhound bus (three times a day) to Las Vegas. Finally, you will board a second Greyhound bus between Las Vegas and New York; it's a 2 day, 10-hour bus leaving twice a day.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to New York?

The best time to go to New York is in December when the city is lit up and decorated for the holidays and the world-famous Times Square New Year’s Eve. However, it's a chilly and crowded time of year. For more pleasant temperatures, consider a fall trip in September or October to see the leaves changing during a lovely stroll in Central Park. In September, New York Fashion Week also takes place, and the Village Halloween Parade and Oktoberfest are fun traditions in October.

What's the Most Scenic Route to New York?

Driving along Interstate 80 east, a roughly 43-hour journey, allows you to see a diversity of landscapes and sites. You can visit the Capitol Building in the state capital Sacramento. Nature lovers will enjoy the lake, mountains, and forests of Salt Lake City. Just east of Chicago, in Gary, Indiana, check out the house where Michael Jackson and his family lived.

An alternative route—about 45 hours—entails going on Interstate 5 south and Interstate 15 north to Las Vegas, an exciting city. You will then pass by beautiful places like the Grand Canyon National Park and the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, and continue on Interstate 70 east to Denver. Next, you will connect with Interstate 76 east and Interstate 80 east.

There are toll roads on Interstate 80 east from close to Chicago east to near Youngstown, Ohio.

What Time Is It in New York?

New York is in the Eastern Time Zone, which runs three hours ahead of San Francisco. For example, 3 p.m. in New York would be 12 p.m. in San Francisco.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

John F. Kennedy International Airport is located approximately 17 miles (27 kilometers) from the center of Manhattan. There are many ways to get from the airport to the city.

You will find metered taxis at all terminal buildings; the ride takes just 25 minutes, but it's expensive at about $85 once you factor in tolls and a tip. An airport shuttle with Jayride is budget-friendly (from $24), and takes around 30 minutes. Lasting around 35 minutes, the Long Island Railroad commuter train (from $15.50) is another one of the quicker options; you'll first take the AirTrain tram from the airport to Jamaica Station. The AirTrain costs about $7.75 when traveling from the airport and takes approximately 11 minutes to Jamaica Station. You can also board an AirTrain to Jamaica Station and then ride a subway (from $2.75). The trip will take at least 60 minutes. NYC Express Bus (from $19) offers an additional but slower option, which takes 1 hour, 30 minutes.

What Is There to Do in New York?

New York offers a dazzling array of activities. You can take a ferry to see the Empire State Building and Ellis Island or enjoy a concert in lovely Central Park. Days can go by exploring a wealth of vibrant neighborhoods like Harlem, Greenwich Village, the East Village, Chinatown, and others. Tourists are impressed with New York's global cuisine, as well as the art galleries and museums. The city is home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art—the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere—plus the Museum of Modern Art, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

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