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Getting from Los Angeles to popular tourist cities explained

carjump1As someone who grew up in Los Angeles, it’s easy to forget just how complicated the transportation city can be. When I am planning a trip to another city for the first time I have been known to spend a lot of time researching exactly the best way of getting from one place to another, and it can often be far more complicated than you’d think.

You may have already noticed that we’ve been working on this series for a while now, and we’ll keep it going adding new places regularly. The main things we are trying to help people sort out is when is it best to fly or to take the bus, or drive, or is there even train service available? Some of these things aren’t nearly as straightforward as you would guess.

On each of these articles we not only discuss how long each method takes, but also the typical price of each method. Many places on the internet seem reticent to quote prices, for fear that they’ll quickly be out of date, but most of these things are fairly stable, and even if the prices go up by 5 or 10% next year, having this information should still be enough to help you determine which strategy works best for you.

Getting from Los Angeles to…


When most people are planning their first-ever trip here, they at least want to know how they’d get to Disneyland, even if they don’t actually go through with it. The fact is that getting from LA to Anaheim is somewhat complicated and time consuming unless you’ve got a car, but of course this is Los Angeles and you really should rent a car if you can. There are buses and even trains that will help, though they aren’t fast or cheap, which really sucks considering how close Disneyland is to most of Los Angeles.

San Diego

This is kind of similar to Anaheim in that you’d think there would be a variety of cheap and relatively easy ways of getting from LA to San Diego, but again the best method by far is by car. There are buses and trains, but both of them tend to be slow and complicated, and not all that cheap either. You would never want to fly between these two cities, as they are just close enough that it would actually take way longer dealing with all the airport stuff than any of the other methods available.

San Francisco

This one is far more straightforward. Getting from LA to San Francisco is usually done by air, and cheap flights are usually available if you book a bit in advance. There’s also a train, and even though it’s kind of slow and expensive, it’s actually a great ride with incredible scenery. You can of course drive or take a bus, and at least you don’t waste a lot of time making connections on this route.

Las Vegas

This is similar to San Francisco, except with no train option. Getting from LA to Las Vegas is usually done by air as well, and flights can be crazy cheap if there is a promotion on. Driving takes about 5 hours each way, or a bit less if there is no traffic. There are buses, but you really don’t want to take them unless you have to.


Here’s another nearby city with a similar situation, except we add a complicated train trip in as another choice. Getting from LA to Phoenix is very easy by air, and there are nonstop flights leaving every few minutes from one of LA’s five major airports. But if you want to drive yourself it’s a rather nice journey. There are cheap buses, and even trains that will get you fairly close.

Grand Canyon

This one is tricky since there is no proper airport near the canyon itself. Getting from LA to the Grand Canyon means getting to Flagstaff, Arizona, one way or another, and then driving or taking a shuttle bus from there. The instructions are all here, and driving the whole way may be your best option.

New York

This one is obvious, but still there are quite a few people from abroad who wonder if there are trains or buses running between these huge coastal cities. Well, there are, so getting from LA to NYC has plenty of choices involved. Flying is surprisingly cheap most of the time, but one of the land-based methods can make for an unforgettable trip (but avoid the buses).