Best Stops on a New York to LA Road Trip

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Head through Maryland and Ohio before swinging south toward Oklahoma and Texas on this New York to LA road trip.
Excited for 3,000 miles of incredible views and 50 hours of driving? Then you’re ready for this life-changing drive! We recommend a minimum of one week to complete this route, although 10 to 14 days will give you ample time to explore along the way.
Our top piece of advice? Get roadside assistance before you go—because there’s nothing like a flat tire on a dusty two-lane highway to ruin your road trip. Jerry’s is only $6.99 per month and it covers flat tires, fuel delivery, lockout assistance, and more. Make sure your car insurance is up to date before you head out, too.
Prepare yourself, because this epic coast-to-coast adventure will change your life (and make your friends super jealous). Let’s go!

New York City to Washington DC

Travel time: 4 hours plus stops
It’s only a four-hour drive, but this leg is jam-packed with incredible eats, history, and culture. Whether you’re in a rush to cross the country or not, it’s worth following the Atlantic Coast to enjoy the one-of-a-kind offerings in this area.
Stop in: Philadelphia, Baltimore

What to do

Inside the impressionist gallery at the Walters Museum of art in Baltimore, Maryland
Walters Museum, Baltimore, Maryland
History buffs can visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and movie fans can pose with the famous Rocky statue. The Delaware River Waterfront is a great place to stretch your legs.
Baltimore hosts some of the best art museums in the country. The Walters Museum has 36,000 items and counting!
Once you arrive in DC, take a deep breath and take a meditative stroll around the U.S. Botanic Garden near the Capitol. A colorful diversity of plants complements the smooth stone of the national monuments nearby.

Where to eat

Before you leave New York, stock up on some road trip snacks and classic dishes—try one of the Patsy’s Pizza locations scattered throughout Manhattan, or Katz’s deli near the Lower East Side.
Once you reach Philly, there are some iconic international dishes you should sample. Go to Hardena in South Philly for award-winning, affordable Indonesian food and then grab a soft pretzel for the road from the Philly Pretzel Factory (multiple locations).
In Baltimore, you’ve got to try a crab dish (we recommend Fishnet just north of downtown). For a unique experience, H3irloom Food Group in the Clifton neighborhood has incredible African-inspired dishes made from local ingredients.
Key Takeaway The East Coast is full of history, so don’t rush through this leg of your trip if you can help it!
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Washington DC to Cleveland

Travel time: 6 hours plus stops
Now you’re headed into Appalachia. Isn’t this country amazingly diverse? Go northwest from DC on I-70 toward Pittsburgh and enjoy the incredible views. Continue on toward Lake Erie and spend the night with lake-fresh air in Cleveland.
Stop in: Pittsburgh

What to do

Crowds of people in front of a juice vendor inside the over century old West Side Market
Inside the West Side Market, Cleveland, Ohio
Pittsburgh is the birthplace of artistic icon Andy Warhol. Visit The Andy Warhol Museum holds the largest collection of his works––including the famous Campbell’s Soup Box in the flesh.
If you’re interested in the development of industry in the Steel City, sign your group up for the Carrie Furnace Tour. It takes tourists through the massive Carrie Blast Furnaces that melted the steel that propelled Pittsburgh through the 20th century.
In Cleveland, you can pay homage to icons and their six-stringed guitars at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There’s lots to see here, so budget two to three hours to walk though.
The West Side Market is a spacious and bustling place to score local products from fruit to herbs to art. Even if you don’t buy anything, be sure to gaze at the vaulted ceiling. The building was specially designed to please shoppers in the early 20th century.

Where to eat

Stop in Pittsburgh to stuff your face with pierogies—you can even get these Polish dumplings to go at Pierogies Plus off PA-51. Try traditional flavors, like potato and sauerkraut, or inventive ones, like apricot and cream cheese.
If you’re looking to stroll around uptown, you may enjoy freshly-grilled Venezuelan street food at Arepittas. Arepas are cornmeal bread stuffed with a variety of meats or vegetarian options—and they’re delicious!
In Cleveland, breweries abound. The Harp pub on Detroit Ave. is worth a try for its cozy atmosphere and Irish style, including a Celtic style stained glass window decal behind the bar.
For a no-frills atmosphere and pleasantly-presented sushi, try out Sushi 86 in the Fifth Street Arcade. Then, stay in the arcade for a sweet dessert at Colossal Cupcakes. You can top a waffle cone with sprinkles, fudge, and more.

Cleveland to Chicago

Travel time: 5 ½ hours plus stops
Head due west on I-90 toward Lake Michigan. Chicago is a great place to stop over for a full 24 hours if you need to regain your strength. Take in the sights at Navy Pier, try deep dish pizza, and catch a jazz show to reconnect with traditional Americana (meaning hot cheese and innovative art).
Stop in: South Bend

What to do

View from the Navy Pier ferris wheel of downtown Chicago skyline on a cloudy day
View from the Navy Pier ferris wheel, Chicago, Illinois
A slow drive through South Bend will reveal a wealth of charming historic buildings, from the Hager House to the old Stephenson Underwear Mills. Grab a cup of coffee at Zen Cafe Coffee Roasters and catch your breath before the final 1.5-hour drive into Chicago.
In the Windy City, take a ferris wheel ride at Navy Pier to get a bird’s-eye view of Lake Michigan. Shoppers and fans of city architecture will delight walking through the downtown Chicago Loop, home to Neiman Marcus and the county’s tallest building Willis Tower.

Where to eat

While traveling through Indiana, a few places are well-suited for grabbing good food on the go. In Fremont, there’s a delightful dive bar called The Hang Out Bar & Grill on Snow Lake.
The Simonton Lake Drive-In in Elkhart allows you to eat burgers and drink root beer in your car. In South Bend, you can nom on pupusas at the Salvadoran restaurant Juan Camaney.
In Chicago, there’s no shortage of good eats. If you have the budget, splash out on a meal at Michelin-starred Alinea, which appeared on Netflix’s Chef’s Table. Otherwise, seek out greasy deep dish pizza at the highly-appraised chain Lou Malnati’s.
Key Takeaway Food is a focus in the Midwest. Try some classic square pizza from a street vendor or be adventurous and try the newest Michelin-starred restaurant.
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Chicago to St. Louis

Travel time: 4 ½ hours plus stops
St. Louis is like Chicago’s little brother—it’s a bit more courageous and heartfelt, and you can definitely feel the pioneer spirit here. The blues scene is accessible to all, and there’s an incredible BBQ joint in every neighborhood.
Stop in: You’ll pass through Bloomington and Springfield, but this is a good day to drive straight through without stopping.

What to do

Interior of Busch Stadium at an evening Cardinals game with the Gateway Arch in the background
Inside Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals play Major League baseball
Get the iconic photo at the Gateway Arch, which marks Missouri’s historic location along Lewis and Clark’s westward expansion route. The Botanical Garden is a relaxing daytime pitstop and you may even be able to catch a Cardinals game depending on the season.

Where to eat

In St. Louis, BBQ fans should consider BEAST Craft BBQ Co. or Salt and Smoke for dinner and BBQ Saloon for brunch. Be sure to leave room for gooey butter cake and frozen custard—classic Midwestern treats.

St. Louis to Oklahoma City

Travel time: 9 hours plus stops
You’re about to reach the halfway point! Forget LA (no offense), Kansas City and Wichita are some of the newest “American dream” cities. Homes are affordable, arts and culture are vibrant, and young families are moving here to build a real sense of community.
Stop in: Kansas City, Wichita

What to do

The sculpture Keeper of the Plains stands at the convergence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers in Wichita, Kansas
The sculpture Keeper of the Plains honors indigenous people in Wichita, Kansas
There are two museums incredibly important to national history in Kansas City: the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
The City Market is free to explore, and you’re guaranteed to stumble on some incredible street art if you just stroll downtown with no agenda.
In Wichita, the Old Cowtown Museum is a playful recreation of 1800s Wichita. The Keeper of the Plains is a gorgeous sculpture honoring indigenous Americans that’s best seen at sunrise or sunset.
In Oklahoma City, cowboy culture continues to this day. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum will delight anyone with an interest in the Wild West. Bring families to see animals (other than cows) at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Where to eat

Kansas City is also famous for BBQ—specifically burnt ends. Try Q39 to sample some of the city’s best. Corvino Supper Club is a popular dinner place, too.
Coffee is big here, and Monarch Coffee offers delicious brews and an attractive (dare we say, Instagrammable) interior. In Wichita, look beyond grilled meat for some lighter fare, including farm-to-table restaurants like HomeGrown Wichita.
In Oklahoma City, get adventurous with dishes like cowboy caviar, fried okra, Frito chili pie, and sweet tea. Go classy at the upscale Grey Sweater or opt for a more casual experience at Mary Eddy’s. All-day breakfast is available at the Guatemalan Cafe Kacao.

Oklahoma City to Albuquerque

Travel time: 8 hours plus stops
The Great Plains of America are awe-inspiring, though a bit vacant. We recommend doing a quick midday stopover in Amarillo and then pushing on to New Mexico all in one day. Try to set aside a full day to explore Albuquerque and the surrounding area.
Stop in: Amarillo

What to do

A male tourist takes a picture of Canyon's Lighthouse at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Amarillo, Texas
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo is a quick but memorable stopover—be sure to bring a couple of cans of spray paint (just take our word for it).
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is just 30 minutes outside of town and it offers quintessential desert hikes.

Where to eat

The Big Texan Steak Ranch is a tourist attraction in Amarillo. The food is good and the entertainment is even better. Fill up here before hitting the empty road heading west.
In Albuquerque, you’re in foodie heaven. Indian Pueblo Kitchen has incredible indigenous food and offers an immersive educational experience. Mary & Tito’s Cafe serves classic New Mexican food flush with green chiles and tender spiced meat.
If you’re hungry for brunch, don’t miss Farm & Table, where you can tour the gardens.
Key Takeaway The desert is beautiful but fierce. Pack extra water and get roadside assistance so you don’t have to worry about getting stranded.
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Albuquerque to Las Vegas

Travel time: 8 ½ hours plus stops
You’re in the home stretch now! Going from Albuquerque to Vegas is hard—but not impossible—to do in one day. We recommend booking a plush hotel bed in Vegas to motivate yourself.
Another option is to car camp in a national park (or go glamping) to break up the long drive. The desert is very hot during the day and very cold at night, so plan your route carefully and fill your gas tank regularly.
Stop in: Gallup, Flagstaff

What to do

Outside on the fountains of the Bellagio resort and casino in Las Vegas
The Bellagio luxury resort and casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Rio Nutria preserve in the Zuni mountains is well worth a 30-minute detour if you have the time. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll see otters! Don’t miss the Rock Art Ranch near Winslow, Arizona with ancient petroglyphs.
If you have time, divert north after Flagstaff to visit the Grand Canyon. Otherwise, the Walnut Canyon Drive is a one-hour scenic route that you can enjoy from your vehicle.
In Las Vegas, visit The Bellagio to say you’ve done it and then explore the Strip. When you’re done with the new flashing lights, head to the Neon Museum or the Mob Museum.
For outdoor adventurers, Mystic Falls Park and Red Rock Canyon are two great choices.

Where to eat

In Flagstaff, Fat Olives is recommended for their authentic Neapolitan pizza. Go to Josephine’s Restaurant for classy food with gorgeous views. Need caffeine? Grab coffee at Late for the Train.
In Vegas, there’s plenty of good food to eat beyond the all-inclusive hotel buffet. The city has become a draw for celebrity chefs and their inventive cuisines.
Try Dirt Dog for a clever twist on Mexican street corn. At Cafe Hollywood, your food comes in a clever miniature ferris wheel. Go to Guy Fieri’s restaurant for Trash Can Nachos—just be sure you bring a friend to help shovel them down.

Las Vegas to Los Angeles

Travel time: 4 hours plus stops
Once you’ve had your fill of Sin City, it’s time for the final leg of your grand adventure. Skirting the Mojave National Preserve on I-15, this four-hour stretch of road is guaranteed to cleanse your body and soul.
Mountain views, desert flora, and quirky roadside attractions await.
Stop in: Mojave National Preserve

What to do

View of a meadow full of Evergreens in the San Bernardino National Forest
San Bernardino National Forest
Your first stop is Seven Magic Mountains, a lone art installation in the middle of the desert. Stop here and meditate before continuing on to the Mojave National Preserve. The shortest hikes with the best views are the Ring Trail Loop and the Kelso Dunes.
The Calico Ghost Town is also on your route. Need one final stop in the wilderness? San Bernardino National Forest has 154,000 acres of trails, and it’s just one hour from your final destination in Los Angeles.
Drive for another 60 minutes and… you’ve made it to the City of Angels! Congratulations on your epic adventure—feel free to tag us on Instagram (thejerryapp) if you stopped anywhere we recommended!
Of course, LA is filled with iconic tourist attractions like Hollywood, Long Beach, and the Griffith Park Observatory. You can take things slow by the seaside, get your glam on in the shopping district, or try to get starstruck celebrity-watching.

Where to eat

Stop in Barstow for a refreshing cold treat at Foster’s Freeze. Hit the Barstow Asian Food Center to sample a variety of Asian cuisines at a food court.
The food quality improves noticeably in Victorville. Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe is a classic Route 66 diner, but it’s clean and more delicious. The Galley Fish Tacos is a good choice for a quick but tasty bite.
In Los Angeles, there are too many good eats to cover in this article so we’ll let the Food Network be your guide.

Why you need roadside assistance

A flat tire is a minor annoyance when you can call your best friend or your mom to help you out. But a flat tire in dusty Arizona? Locking yourself out in St. Louis? These are major catastrophes!
Roadside assistance is affordable (just $6.99 with Jerry!) and a really smart idea. Jerry has partnered with Urgently to cover your fuel delivery, lockout assistance, flat tire help, winching, and more. Premium members even get Uber credits.
You never know what obstacles you’ll encounter––so before you embark on the great American road trip, get Jerry’s roadside assistance on speed dial. For the price of a cheap gas station slushie, you can definitely afford it.
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Finding cheap car insurance

Most states require car insurance, but minimums vary across the country. Since you’re traveling from the east to the west coast, there are many situations you could encounter––including getting in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Jerry can help you get the best policy before you embark. The Jerry app is free to download and allows you to find and compare quotes from up to 50 top insurance companies.
Plus, the average Jerry user saves over $800 a year on car insurance. That could buy a lot of tanks of gas!
Jerry is awesome! I loved my experience. Love from Las Vegas NV.” ––Kelly G.

FAQs

How long does it take to drive across the country?

It takes about one week (seven days) to drive across the country if you spend more than eight hours a day on the road. Most people prefer to do a bit of sightseeing, so 10-14 days is a better estimate.

What are the best snacks for a road trip?

Everybody needs a bit of sugar and salt to keep their spirits up! There’s nothing wrong with some gas station candy and chips.
However, it’s a good idea to keep some healthy food in the car, too. If your tummy is rumbling and you’re in the middle of the Great Plains, you’ll be grateful to have some tortillas and peanut butter stowed in the backseat.
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