The cross-country street journey from Chicago to Los Angeles is a frightening but rewarding driving trip to try. There are two foremost routes street trippers can observe to get from Chicago to Southern California. The primary is the quickest option to LA, passing via locations akin to Omaha, Denver and Salt Lake Metropolis, whereas the second route follows the enduring Route 66 via Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona earlier than ending up in LA.
There’s no proper or unsuitable approach of road-tripping to LA from the Midwest, nonetheless, few street journeys can rival the mysterious cities, roadside sights and beautiful landscapes that the historic Route 66 gives. From Chicago and Springfield to Flagstaff and the Dying Valley Nationwide Park, essentially the most iconic approach of travelling from Chicago to Los Angeles or Los Angeles to Chicago follows the remnants of the well-known Route 66 via America’s Southwest.
Chicago To Los Angeles
20 Locations To Discover On A Chicago To Los Angeles Highway Journey
1- Route 66 Beginning Level
The place to begin of your epic street journey from Chicago to LA ought to, indisputably, be the start line of one of the crucial iconic stretches of street on this planet, the well-known Route 66.
Route 66 was first opened in 1926 and linked the Midwest to the West Coast by way of Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Whereas the route was made redundant many a long time in the past, over 85% of the unique Route 66 stays driveable, making it potential to drive from Chicago to LA virtually solely on Route 66.
Route 66 place to begin is on the nook of Jackson Boulevard and Michigan Avenue. For those who’re spending the night in Chicago, you’ll discover tons to do.
Really useful tour: Chicago Architectural River Cruise
Historic Springfield is the capital of the state of Illinois and the primary cease alongside the Illinois part of Route 66.
Based in 1821, the town is probably most well-known for being the house of former US President Abraham Lincoln between 1837 and 1861, nonetheless, this sizeable metropolis has loads of different sights and landmarks to take pleasure in.
Probably the greatest landmarks in Springfield to see is, indisputably, the Illinois State Capitol, the place leaders like Lincoln and Barack Obama paved the best way ahead for Illinois and, finally, the complete nation.
One other nice Springfield attraction is the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Dana-Thomas Home, inbuilt 1904.
With a lot to see and do, to not point out essential historical past to uncover, Springfield is an absolute should on any Chicago to LA street journey.
Springfield is 201 miles (3 hours) from Chicago.
Really useful tour: Springfield City Scavenger Hunt
3- Shawnee Nationwide Forest
The large 289 000-acre (116 954 ha) Shawnee Nationwide Forest is sandwiched neatly between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers within the coronary heart of southern Illinois.
That includes an unblemished panorama highlighted by landmarks and options such because the Backyard of the Gods, Jackson Falls and the Rim Rock Nationwide Recreation Path, the forest is among the many prime out of doors sights within the Midwest.
Whereas not fairly located alongside the principle path to LA, Shawnee Nationwide Forest is just too lovely and idyllic to overlook out on throughout your Route 66 street journey to LA, good for an in a single day tenting journey earlier than heading west to St. Louis.
Shawnee Nationwide Forest is 216 miles (3.5 hours) from Springfield.
4- St. Louis
Nicknamed the Gateway to the West, the nice metropolis of St. Louis is legendary for its rowdy sports activities followers, full of life blues music scene and the world-famous Gateway Arch.
The town sits proper on the Mississippi and Missouri River confluence, overlooks Illinois to the east, and is the second-largest metropolis in Missouri.
Based by French fur merchants and named in honour of King Louis IX of France, St. Louis was positioned firmly on the map when the Lewis and Clark expedition set off from the town in 1804.
Right this moment, this contemporary and eclectic metropolis boasts a wealthy craft beer trade, a number of attention-grabbing neighbourhoods and Forest Park, one of many best city parks in America.
St Louis is 152 miles (2.5 hours) from Shawnee Nationwide Forest.
Really useful tour: St Louis Lemp Haunted Neighbourhood Walking Tour
5- Meramec Caverns
Located beneath the Meramec Valley in japanese Missouri, the Meramec Caverns are a 4.6-mile-long (7.4 km) subterranean cave community positioned proper alongside Route 66.
The caverns characteristic a number of Pre-Columbian Native American artefacts, a 6-foot tall (1.83 m) onyx desk, a Mirror Room, and several other different distinctive sights.
Not solely are the caverns among the many hottest sights alongside Route 66, however the caverns have additionally starred in a number of Hollywood movies and TV reveals, together with Deep Impression, Lassie and Tom Sawyer.
The Meramec Caverns are 65 miles (about 1 hour) from St Louis.
6- The Ozarks
The Ozark Mountains, generally known as the Ozarks, is an impressive physiographic area that spills into 4 states: Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Spanning over 47,000 sq. miles (122 000 km2), the Ozarks is a significant ecological zone with idyllic mountainside cities and extremely spectacular geological options.
The Ozarks additionally characteristic the 165-mile (266 km) Ozark Highlands Path, which connects the Buffalo Nationwide River with Lake Fort Smith State Park, making certain you’ll by no means miss out on this superb area’s uncooked pure magnificence.
With loads of campsites and motels positioned all all through the Ozarks, it’s simple to spend a few days right here simply exploring each nook and cranny of the Ozarks.
The Ozark Mountains is 206 miles (about 3.5 hours) from Meremec Caverns.
7- Oklahoma Metropolis
The most important metropolis within the ‘Sooner State’, Oklahoma City is the state’s capital and is house to a number of sights for guests to absorb.
Nicknamed ‘OKC’, the town is house to the NBA’s Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, the Nationwide Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Route 66 cuts proper via Oklahoma Metropolis, making it a straightforward place to cease for a day or two.
This contemporary metropolis treats guests to world-class purchasing and eating choices, a bustling nightlife scene, and that distinctive Western attraction to place you within the Frontier spirit throughout your once-in-a-lifetime street journey.
Oklahoma Metropolis is 305 miles (round 5 hours) from The Ozarks. You might need to break your journey in Tulsa, a few 3.5-hour drive from Ozark Mountains.
Really useful tour: Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum Tickets
8- Amarillo, Texas
Located inside the Texas Panhandle and close to the midway level of Route 66, Amarillo is a vibrant metropolis with an extremely numerous vary of sights and sights to behold.
The town was a significant centre for cattle advertising and marketing within the area, nonetheless, Amarillo’s previous consists of all kinds of industries starting from large-scale helium manufacturing to nuclear weapons.
With such a novel historical past, Amarillo stands out among the many different cities alongside Route 66, boasting many sights such because the Palo Duro Canyon State Park and the Cadillac Ranch.
Stopping by Amarillo is an actual deal with throughout any Chicago to LA street journey, due to the town’s nice mixture of previous and new structure, wealthy tradition and assortment of bizarre roadside sights.
Amarillo is 260 miles (underneath 4 hours) from Oklahoma Metropolis.
9- Santa Fe
Crossing the state border into New Mexico and approaching Santa Fe, street trippers are instantly struck by the realm’s many Pueblo-style buildings and adobe landmarks.
Santa Fe is New Mexico’s capital and is house to an extremely wealthy arts scene that’s rumoured to be among the many finest on this planet.
Though first settled by the Spanish within the fifteenth century, Santa Fe has been inhabited for hundreds of years by the Tewa and Navajo folks, giving Santa Fe an extremely vibrant tradition that few cities on this planet can rival.
From its well-known Santa Fe Plaza and Palace of the Governors to its Georgia O’Keefe Museum and distinctive New Mexican delicacies, Santa Fe is a very spectacular vacation spot on the street from Chicago to LA to cease at that’s filled with distinctive experiences to take pleasure in.
Santa Fe is 285 miles (4.5 hours) from Amarillo.
Really useful tour: Santa Fe Revisited
10- Meteor Crater Pure Landmark
Proper earlier than arriving in Flagstaff, street trippers are struck with one of many world’s most unusual and awe-inspiring sights, the Meteor Crater Pure Landmark.
Situated roughly 37 miles (60 km) east of Downtown Flagstaff, the Meteor Crater is over 3,900 toes vast (1,200 m) and 560 toes deep (170 m), making it one of many largest impression craters on this planet.
The meteorite that brought on the huge impression struck roughly 50,000 years in the past, fairly current in geological phrases.
Regardless of giant efforts made to show the crater right into a recognised public landmark, the crater continues to be privately owned by the Barringer Crater Firm, which prides itself on preserving the crater for future generations to expertise.
Although the crater is positioned on personal property, it stays open to the general public and includes a museum and customer centre for travellers to be taught all about this famous Arizona landmark.
Meteor Crater Pure Landmark is 352 miles (about 5 hours) from Santa Fe. Alongside the best way, you can cease at Albuquerque.
Located inside the tall mountainous terrain of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff is a real year-round trip vacation spot boasting indoor and out of doors actions to partake in each season of the 12 months.
Throughout spring, Flagstaff comes alive with vivid colors because the world’s largest emerald inexperienced ponderosa pine forest blooms.
In winter and autumn, Flagstaff transforms into Arizona’s personal Aspen, with snowboarding and snowboarding alternatives accessible round each bend.
Summertime brings clear skies and a gentle local weather to Flagstaff, making for good mountaineering or tenting alternatives.
It doesn’t matter what time of the 12 months you resolve to cross via Flagstaff, you’ll discover tons to do in and round this superb Arizona vacation spot.
Flagstaff is 43 miles (44 minutes) from Meteor Crater Pure Landmark.
Really useful tour: Flagstaff Haunted History Tour
12- Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is THE must-see landmark throughout any street journey from Chicago to LA.
Located inside the Grand Canyon Nationwide Park, this iconic landmark is legendary all over the world for its beautiful gorges, vibrant cliffs and massive dimension, in addition to its unblemished landscapes and wealthy biodiversity.
With many actions round or inside the canyon, akin to an ultra-marathon and the favored Grand Canyon Skywalk, the canyon is among the many world’s best out of doors sights.
Not solely is the Grand Canyon free to take pleasure in and filled with actions for all ages, however its handy location proper alongside the principle path to LA makes it an absolute no-brainer to place in your street journey checklist.
Grand Canyon Nationwide Park is 75 miles (1.5 hours) from Flagstaff.
Really useful tour: Grand Canyon Railway Adventure Package
13- Zion Nationwide Park
The beautiful Zion National Park is positioned in Utah’s southwestern nook and is roughly 250 miles (402 km) north of the Grand Canyon Nationwide Park.
Finest recognized for its steep canyons, pure arches and wealthy Native American historical past, Zion Nationwide Park’s extremely distinctive landscapes could be derived from the park’s geographic location on the conjunction between the Colorado Plateau, Mojave Desert and Nice Basin.
Zion blends a number of the finest landscapes on this planet to create one really terrific out of doors vacation spot that have to be seen to really imagine.
The park is immensely widespread as a tenting and glamping venue, so there’s no scarcity of improbable in a single day choices to select from for those who’re planning on establishing camp for a day or two earlier than hitting the street once more.
Whereas not fairly on the principle path to LA from Chicago, Zion Nationwide Park is definitely worth the quick detour from Arizona to really absorb all of the sights and actions on provide inside and round Zion Nationwide Park.
Zion Nationwide Park is 332 miles (5.5 hours) from Grand Canyon Nationwide Park and nicely definitely worth the detour!
Really useful tour: Award-Winning UTV Slot Canyon Tour
14- Las Vegas Strip
When road-tripping west in direction of LA, you merely should cease at Las Vegas, and in Las Vegas, there’s no different place fairly just like the Strip.
The spotlight of any journey to Sin Metropolis and the guts of all the town’s motion, nightlife and well-known sights, the Las Vegas Strip is a 2.5-mile-long (4 km) stretch of motels and casinos that cuts proper via the town’s downtown space from north to south.
The Las Vegas Strip is a bit of Las Vegas Boulevard, that includes all of the ritzy venues Las Vegas is so well-known for all over the world.
Probably the greatest methods of experiencing the Strip is by foot, to soak up sights akin to The Venetian, Caesar’s Palace and the Bellagio, together with prime eating and purchasing choices in Las Vegas at night.
With so many nice locations to see and iconic landmarks in Las Vegas to go to, it’s finest to allocate a few days simply to discover each inch of this exceptional stretch of street in one of many world’s main leisure hubs.
Las Vegas is 164 miles (underneath 3 hours) from Zion Nationwide Park.
Really useful tour: Las Vegas Helicopter Night Flight with non-compulsory VIP transportation
15- Dying Valley Nationwide Park
The notorious Dying Valley Nationwide Park is a spot of uttermost extremes on the California-Nevada border.
The park’s scorching daytime temperatures and frigid night-time situations make it one of the crucial bodily difficult parks to go to in the USA.
It’s within the Dying Valley Nationwide Park the place the best ambient air temperature on Earth was measured in 1916, clocking in at a scorching 134 °F (56.7 °C) on the thermometer.
Not solely is the park’s excessive warmth a problem to beat, but it surely’s additionally the driest place in North America.
But, regardless of its inhospitable nature, the park is house to splendid pure options and is a improbable spot to gaze on the stars away from metropolis gentle air pollution.
Dying Valley Nationwide Park is 118 miles (2 hours) from Las Vegas and might simply be finished as a day trip from Las Vegas if you wish to base your self within the metropolis for longer.
Really useful tour: Death Valley Small Group Day Adventure from LV
16- Mojave Nationwide Protect
One of many main pure and historic landmarks in California, the Mojave Nationwide Protect tells the story of man’s connection to the desert that’s greater than 10,000 years within the making.
From the arrival of the primary Native Individuals millennia in the past, this protect has captivated guests with its awe-inspiring dunes and Joshua Timber.
Mojave Nationwide Protect is the third-largest protected stretch of land underneath the Nationwide Park Service’s care and is conveniently located roughly midway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
The protect is superb to go to and has distinctive pure landmarks to find, such because the Mojave Desert Mailbox, the Lava Tubes Path and the Mojave Memorial Cross for visitors to take pleasure in.
Mojave Nationwide Protect is 274 miles (2.5 hours) from Dying Valley Nationwide Park.
Really useful tour: Valley of Fire and California Mojave Desert tour
17- San Bernardino Nationwide Forest
The scenic San Bernardino Nationwide Forest incorporates numerous climates and biomes to create an outside wonderland.
The sprawling forest’s landscapes vary from barren desert to the tallest alpine mountain vary in SoCal.
With over 820,000 acres (331,842 ha) of unblemished nature to uncover and beautiful pure options to soak up, such because the San Jacinto Mountains and Bighorn Mountain, it’s simple to see why locals flock to those foothills yearly.
San Bernardino Nationwide Forest is 156 miles (underneath 3 hours) from Mojave Nationwide Protect.
18- Hollywood Signal
Stopping by the world-famous Hollywood Signal is a ceremony of passage for a lot of first-time guests searching for well-known landmarks in Los Angeles.
Perched atop Mount Lee, the Hollywood signal is without doubt one of the metropolis’s most photographed websites and serves as a monument to Tinseltown’s movie trade that’s so ingrained into SoCal and Western popular culture.
Although direct entry to the signal is strictly prohibited, the close by Griffith Observatory and Mount Lee summit are two of the most effective locations to see the join shut.
A really superb spectacle to clap your eyes on for the primary time, the Hollywood signal is a well-liked spotlight of the complete street journey.
The Hollywood Signal is 122 miles (2.5 hours) from San Bernardino Nationwide Forest.
Really useful tour: The Official Hollywood Sign Walking Tour in Los Angeles (free water and images)
19- Rodeo Drive
A convergence of upscale purchasing and leisure in Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive is synonymous with luxurious boutiques and Hollywood’s elite.
Spanning roughly 2 miles (3.2 km) from Sundown Boulevard within the north to Beverwil Drive within the south, Rodeo Drive first started receiving an inflow of high-end outlets proper across the begin of the Nineteen Sixties.
Although purchasing is the most important attraction alongside Rodeo Drive, you don’t should splurge to have a good time visiting this iconic LA landmark, due to the district’s lovely structure and surroundings which might simply be loved on foot.
No matter whether or not you’re planning a last-minute purchasing spree or simply window purchasing, Rodeo Drive is in contrast to another venue on this planet, making it the right stopping level to say goodbye to Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
Rodeo Drive is 10 miles (28 minutes) from the Hollywood signal.
Really useful tour: Hollywood Sightseeing and Celebrity Homes Tour by Open Air Bus
20- Santa Monica
The well-known seaside metropolis of Santa Monica lies simply exterior Downtown LA and is the most effective place to finish what is probably essentially the most iconic street journey on this planet.
That includes an illuminated pier, energetic rooftop bars and golf equipment overlooking the ocean, and a few of LA’s finest eating places, Santa Monica is the place to be in SoCal.
Not solely is that this vibrant metropolis the beating coronary heart of LA’s browsing and skateboarding scene, but it surely’s additionally famend for its superb arts and purchasing scenes.
From its sandy seashores to Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica is a enjoyable place to finish (or begin your journey for those who’re driving from Los Angeles to Chicago).
Santa Monica is 8.4 miles (quarter-hour) from Rodeo Drive.
Really useful tour: Small Group Electric Bike Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach