How to Travel From Los Angeles to Boston by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

TripSavvy / Julie Bang

The capital of Massachusetts is waiting 2,605 miles from Los Angeles with its mix of American and literary history, legendary sports franchises like the Celtics and the Red Sox, and natural beauty—especially in the fall when New England bursts with autumnal colors. To get to there from LA, travelers can take a plane, train, bus, or cars. 

Consider the pros and cons of each option to figure out which best suits your needs. The fastest way to travel from LA to Boston is obviously flying, which typically takes 5.5 hours. All of the other transportation choices take more than a day. The cheapest choice varies depending on what amenities you can’t live without, time of year, and sales. Booking in advance and scoping out promotions/sales usually garners additional savings.

How to Get From Los Angeles to Boston
  Time Cost Best For
Train 71 hours from $197 Traveling comfortably
Plane 5 hours, 30 minutes from $119 Arriving on a time crunch
Bus 72 hours, 50 minutes from $164 Eco-conscious travel
Car 44 hours 2,983 miles (4,801 kilometers) An extended road trip
USA, Massachusetts, Boston, Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, dusk
John Coletti / Getty Images

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Los Angeles to Boston?

Flying is easily the fastest way to get to Boston, which means more time on the ground enjoying your destination. A nonstop flight from LA is roughly five hours and 30 minutes, give or take 15 minutes. Obviously that does not take into consideration time spent getting to and from airports, delays and cancellations, checking and collecting baggage, or airport security lines. 

According to Kayak, there are on average 898 flights a week from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). Nonstop flights are offered by United, American, Delta (a hub), Alaska, and Jet Blue. Round-trip tickets average $236, but one-way flights can can be scored for $119. Kayak reports that the low travel season is in February while the high season is in December.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

Under normal traffic conditions, it takes roughly 44 hours to drive from LA to Boston. The fastest route (2,983 miles) goes east out of LA on I-10 through Las Vegas, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and Massachusetts via I-15, I-70, I-76, I-80, I-90, and I-93. However, travel time may vary depending on the weather, season, and traffic as routes go through large cities like Denver, Cleveland, Albany, and Omaha. If you time departures badly, you could hit multiple rush hours and potentially add hours. 

Road trips aren’t fast but can be a scenic and fairly economical choice, especially if you don’t need to rent a car or you have a large group splitting the cost. It also buys travelers freedom. Unlike buses and trains, you call the shots. Stop and eat when and where you want. Get a hotel and sleep in a real bed. Take detours to swim in a Great Lake, eat wings where they were invented, or tour the Basketball Hall Of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

How Long Is the Train Ride?

Amtrak has two routes from LA to Boston’s South Station that take 71 hours. Both start at Union Station in downtown aboard the Southwest Chief, which travels through Flagstaff, Albuquerque, and Kansas City before arriving in Chicago. Riders then transfer to the Lake Shore Limited (Chicago-Albany-New York-Boston). Adding a second transfer in Albany brings the cost down. A one-way reserved coach seat starts around $197, but a premium fare with bunks will likely run closer to $1,105. Another option is taking the Southwest Chief and transferring to Capitol Limited (Chicago-Cleveland-Pittsburgh-Washington, D.C.) and then to the Northeast Regional (D.C.-New York-Hartford-Providence/Springfield-Boston). It adds four hours and 21 minutes but is occasionally cheaper.

Amtrak has five classes of service from saver (only refundable within 24 hours of purchase) to premium (comes with sleeping accommodations, includes meals, and is 100 percent refundable prior to departure without a cancellation fee). All levels come with two free checked bags and WiFi. 

Is There a Bus That Goes From Los Angeles to Boston?

Taking the bus is the slowest method of transportation. Greyhound's route crosses 12 states, takes 72 hours and 50 minutes, and requires one transfer in New York City. There are 37 stops between the Seventh Street station in downtown LA and the South Station in Beantown. 

Passengers aren’t allowed to disembark during stops that are 10 minutes or less and not all stations have dining options. A one-way ticket can cost between $164 and $221, depending on the level of service (economy, economy extra, and flexible), day of the week, and time of the year. 

New buses have WiFi, extra legroom, no dreaded middle seat, and a free checked bag no matter what class of service. Greyhound claims traveling by bus is better for the environment than using cars and trains thanks to new technology like low-sulfur fuel, idle management systems, and diesel particulate filters. The new, free onboard entertainment system is currently on 71 percent of the fleet. 

What Time Is It in Boston?

Boston is in the Eastern Time Zone, so don’t forget to move clocks forward three hours from LA time when you arrive. 

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) provides a quick and easy way to get from Logan Airport to Boston and the surrounding area. You can take the free Silver Line bus to South Station; from there, you can connect to the Red Line, which travels to downtown Boston and Cambridge.

Alternatively, you can board a free Massport shuttle bus. Bus Routes 22, 33, and 55 will take you to the MBTA Blue Line, which connects to the Orange Line at State Street Station. This is a good option if you're traveling to downtown Boston, Fenway Park, Boston College, Boston University, or Northeastern University.

What Is There to Do in Boston?

Boston is a must for history buffs thanks to the large part it played during colonial times and the American Revolution. Sites include the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, Old South Meeting House, Paul Revere’s house, the Old North Church, the Boston Tea Party Ships Museum, the USS Constitution, and Bunker Hill. Boston Common is the oldest park in America. It’s also home to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, prestigious universities like Harvard, and legendary sports teams like the Red Sox and the Celtics. More ideas can be found in our complete guide to Boston.