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

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Los Angeles and New York City are two of most popular cities to visit in the United States. Los Angeles is 2,775 miles west of New York City. To get from New York City to Los Angeles, there are several transportation options. Generally, flying makes the most sense for anyone on a time constraint. The flight takes about 6 hours, and sometimes you can find good deals on flights. Buses are more affordable, but the trip is extremely long (about three days). The train trip is also quite long, and fairly pricey, but if you’re looking to see the country and experience a sleeper car, this could be the time. Driving takes about 40 hours without stopping—but if you’re driving cross country, it probably makes sense to give yourself up to two weeks to make a trip out of it. Be sure to take into account the cost of gas and tolls, food along the way, and overnight accommodations.

How to Get From New York City to Los Angeles
  Time Cost Best For
Train 2 days, 19 hours from $197 Slow travel
Plane 6 hours from $50 Arriving on a time crunch
Bus 2 days, 20 hours, 30 minutes from $77 Eco-conscious travel
Car 40 hours 2,775 miles (4,466 kilometers) A cross-country road trip

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From New York City to Los Angeles?

Flying is the fastest and most convenient way to get from NYC to LA. The duration of the flight takes about 6 hours, but that does not include time spent getting to and from the airport, checking bags, or clearing security. All of the major carriers (JetBlue, Delta, United, and American Airlines), as well as smaller airlines (Alaska Airlines) and budget carriers (Southwest, Sun Country, and Spirit Airlines) service the route.

You can find one-way fares as low as $50 (with one or two stops), so flying can be the cheapest way to travel between the two cities. However, this mode of transit is typically more expensive than the bus or train, as the average one-way ticket costs $152.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is one of the world's busiest airports and, just 18 miles away, the largest international airport closest to downtown LA. Hollywood Burbank Bob Hope Airport is 15 miles away from downtown, but it takes in fewer flights. Other nearby small airports include Long Beach Airport (24 miles from downtown LA) and John Wayne Airport in Orange County (39 miles from downtown LA).

How Long Is the Train Ride?

Traveling by train to and from Los Angeles and New York City is a very long, multi-day journey. Amtrak trains go from Penn Station in Manhattan to Los Angeles Union Station in downtown LA. The shortest and most direct trip is via the Lake Shore Limited service, which goes as far west as Chicago. You would then transfer to the Southwest Chief for the remainder of the trip. Stops include St. Louis, Kansas City, Topeka, Albuquerque, and Flagstaff. The entire journey takes about 67 hours.

There are also routes with more than two segments, which take longer and involve more transfers. One-way tickets range from $197 for a seat to upwards of $900 for a sleeper car.

Many find train travel romantic, and if sleeping overnight in a sleeper car is on your bucket list, this cross-country train ride might be the perfect trip for you. The picturesque views are sure to be incredible. However, it won’t save you much money—especially if you spring for a sleeper car, which you may want for this multi-day journey.

You can purchase tickets in advance online or in person at Penn Station.

Is There a Bus That Goes From New York City to Los Angeles?

The bus ride from New York City to Los Angeles takes more than 70 hours, with one-way tickets starting at $77. Greyhound is the only company that services this route, and buses depart from Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan and arrive at the Los Angeles Bus Station downtown. There are no sleeper options, only regular seats, though Greyhound does offer a direct trip with no transfers. This is a long, uncomfortable ride that is not recommended—especially since you can sometimes score a cheaper flight on a budget airline.

How Long Does It Take to Drive?

The 2,775-mile drive from NYC to LA takes at least 42 hours, though it will likely take longer when you factor in traffic jams and rest stops. The most direct routes take you west along I-80 (which is slightly north), or the iconic Route 66, which goes more south and starts in Chicago. You'll pass through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. Visitors to New York City can rent cars in Manhattan, although rates at the airports tend to be more expensive.

The biggest advantage to traveling via car is that there is no schedule to stick to and this route makes for a memorable road trip, with plenty of fascinating and beautiful places to stop along the way. You might save some money driving (if you don’t have to rent one), especially if you are traveling with a group of people. Remember to add gas and tolls into your budget, along with accommodations, snacks, and meals. Camping or staying with friends can reduce costs.

What Time Is It in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles in in Pacific Daylight Time, which runs 3 hours behind New York City. For example, 4 p.m. in NYC would be 1 p.m. in LA.

Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?

You can get to downtown LA from LAX on the FlyAway Bus or the Metrolink. There is also a free shuttle, though it's an hour-long ride downtown. Alternatively, you can take a taxi, ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft, or rent a car. Driving from LAX to downtown usually takes about 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

What Is There to Do in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is one of the United States’ most popular and beloved cities. It has a diverse population, which means a wide variety of attractions and restaurants. There are beaches galore, including famous Venice and Santa Monica, with its pier and amusement park. Hollywood is full of star-studded amusements, and the television and movie studios all offer lot tours. Downtown LA has a thriving arts and restaurant scene, while Silver Lake and Los Feliz in the eastern part of the city are full of boutique shops and creative cafés. Nature lovers can explore Griffith Park and its observatory, while art appreciators will enjoy LACMA, the Broad Museum, and the J. Paul Getty Museum.