How Long Does It Take To Get To Los Angeles? A Breakdown By Travel Method

With its iconic attractions, beaches, museums and endless entertainment options, Los Angeles remains a top destination for travelers across the globe. But LA is a massive city spread over 500 square miles, so how long it takes to actually get there can vary significantly depending on where you’re coming from and how you choose to travel.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: It takes around 5-6 hours to drive to LA from nearby major cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix. Flying takes 2-5 hours from most U.S. cities. Coming from further away can take 10+ hours.

Driving Times to Los Angeles

From Nearby Southwestern Cities

If you’re coming from nearby southwestern cities, such as San Diego, Las Vegas, or Phoenix, you’ll be pleased to know that the drive to Los Angeles is relatively short. From San Diego, it takes approximately 2 hours to reach the City of Angels, depending on traffic conditions.

From Las Vegas, the drive usually takes around 4 to 5 hours, depending on the route you take. If you’re driving from Phoenix, you can expect a drive time of around 5 to 6 hours. These driving times are estimates and can vary depending on traffic and road conditions.

From Further California Destinations

For those traveling from further California destinations, such as San Francisco or Sacramento, the drive to Los Angeles will take a bit longer. From San Francisco, the drive typically takes around 6 to 7 hours, depending on the route and traffic.

From Sacramento, you can expect a drive time of around 7 to 8 hours. These driving times are approximate and can vary based on traffic and weather conditions.

Cross-Country Road Trips

If you’re embarking on a cross-country road trip and Los Angeles is one of your destinations, the driving time will depend on where you’re starting from. For example, if you’re starting from New York City, the drive can take around 40 to 45 hours, covering a distance of approximately 2,800 miles.

From Chicago, the drive typically takes around 30 to 35 hours, covering a distance of approximately 2,000 miles. These driving times are estimates and can vary based on the route you take and the stops you make along the way.

It’s important to note that driving times can be affected by various factors, including traffic congestion, road construction, and weather conditions. It’s always a good idea to check the current traffic conditions and plan your route accordingly.

Additionally, it’s recommended to take breaks and rest when needed to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.

Flight Duration From Main Airport Hubs

Short Flights from Western Cities

If you are traveling to Los Angeles from western cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, or Las Vegas, you can expect a relatively short flight duration. On average, flights from these cities to Los Angeles take around 1 to 2 hours.

The exact duration may vary depending on factors such as weather conditions and air traffic. It’s worth noting that these short flights are not only convenient but also offer stunning aerial views of the Pacific coastline.

Medium-Length Flights from Midwest and Southern Cities

For travelers coming from cities in the Midwest and the South, the flight duration to Los Angeles is slightly longer compared to those coming from western cities. Flights from cities like Chicago, Dallas, or Atlanta typically take around 3 to 4 hours.

These medium-length flights provide an opportunity to relax, catch up on your favorite TV shows or movies, or even get some work done before reaching the sunny shores of Los Angeles.

Long-Haul Flights from the East Coast

If you are flying to Los Angeles from cities on the East Coast such as New York, Boston, or Miami, be prepared for a longer journey. The flight duration from these cities can range from 5 to 6 hours. However, with the availability of non-stop flights, the travel time can be significantly reduced.

Many major airlines offer direct flights from these cities to Los Angeles, making it easier for travelers to reach their destination without any layovers.

It’s important to keep in mind that these flight durations are approximate and can vary depending on various factors. It’s always a good idea to check with your airline for the most up-to-date information regarding flight schedules and durations.

Additionally, factors such as airport security procedures, check-in times, and baggage claim can also affect the overall travel time.

Getting to LA by Train and Other Transport

Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, attracts millions of visitors each year. If you’re wondering how long it takes to get to this vibrant city, it largely depends on the mode of transportation you choose.

Let’s explore the different options for getting to Los Angeles and their estimated travel times.

Amtrak Train Trips

If you prefer a scenic and relaxed journey, traveling to Los Angeles by train can be a great option. Amtrak, the national rail service in the United States, offers various routes that connect major cities to Los Angeles.

For example, if you’re coming from San Francisco, you can board the iconic Coast Starlight train, which takes you along the stunning California coastline. The journey takes approximately 12 hours, allowing you to kick back, enjoy the views, and even grab a meal in the dining car.

If you’re starting your journey on the East Coast, you can take the Amtrak Southwest Chief from Chicago, which typically takes around 43 hours. While it may seem like a long duration, the train offers comfortable sleeping accommodations, dining options, and breathtaking views of the American Southwest.

Arriving by Bus

Traveling by bus is often a more affordable option for getting to Los Angeles. Several bus companies, such as Greyhound and Megabus, operate routes that connect major cities across the country to Los Angeles.

The travel time by bus can vary depending on the distance and the number of stops along the way. For instance, a bus trip from San Diego to Los Angeles can take around 2-3 hours, while a journey from Las Vegas can take approximately 4-5 hours.

While the travel time may be longer compared to other modes of transportation, bus travel offers the advantage of cost-effectiveness and the opportunity to admire the scenic landscapes along the way.

Traveling by Boat

While Los Angeles is known for its coastal location, traveling by boat to the city is not a common option for most travelers. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are cruise ships and ferries that make stops in the Port of Los Angeles, offering a unique and leisurely way to arrive in the city.

For example, if you’re coming from nearby Catalina Island, you can take a ferry that typically takes around 1 hour to reach the mainland. Additionally, if you’re on a cruise vacation, there are various cruise lines that include Los Angeles as a port of call, allowing you to explore the city during a stopover.

It’s important to note that traveling by boat may not be the most time-efficient option, but it can certainly provide a memorable and scenic experience for those who enjoy being on the water.

Factors That Can Increase Travel Time

Traffic and Delays in LA

One of the biggest factors that can significantly increase travel time to Los Angeles is the notorious LA traffic. With its sprawling highways and a large population, traffic congestion is a common occurrence in the city.

Whether you are driving or taking public transportation, it’s important to be prepared for potential delays. Rush hour traffic, accidents, and road construction can all contribute to slower travel times.

To get real-time updates on traffic conditions in LA, you can use websites or apps like Sigalert or Waze.

Time of Day and Year

The time of day and year can also have a significant impact on travel time to Los Angeles. During peak travel seasons, such as holidays or summer vacations, there may be more travelers heading to LA, resulting in busier airports, longer security lines, and increased flight delays.

It’s also important to consider the time of day you plan to travel. Rush hour traffic in LA typically occurs during the morning and evening commute times, so it’s best to avoid these times if possible.

Layovers and Stopovers

If you are traveling to Los Angeles by air, layovers and stopovers can add extra time to your journey. Depending on your flight route and airline, you may have to make a connecting flight at another airport before reaching LA.

The duration of layovers can vary greatly, ranging from a short hour to several hours or even overnight stays. It’s important to plan your travel itinerary accordingly and factor in the time needed for layovers to avoid any potential stress or missed connections.


With its sunshine, beaches and Hollywood glamour, the appeal of LA draws visitors from near and far. Luckily, the city is easily accessible by plane, train or car. While traffic in the region is notorious, you can minimize your transit time with strategic planning. Knowing how long it takes to reach LA by various modes of transportation allows you to maximize your exploration time once there.

Now that you know how to get there efficiently, get ready to soak up all the excitement that LA has to offer!

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