California To Chicago Road Trip: Top 27 Tips

Note: This guide was last updated 8 months and 14 days ago. If you've spotted anything that seems a bit out-of-date or if you have some killer tips to share, we're all ears! Feel free to leave a comment below.

Traveling from California to Chicago is one of the best journeys you can experience in the USA. The 2,140 miles of the road trip from California to Chicago takes around 31 hours of driving without stops.

This article includes 27 top tips that turn your Chicago trip into an unforgettable journey. So if you’re looking for the best hotels, restaurants, and places to visit on the road trip from California to Chicago, take your coffee and keep reading!

9 Best Hotels On The Way From California To Chicago

On the way from California to Chicago, you may want to stay at some points on the way. Here are the top nine hotels on the California – Chicago route!

  1. Best Western Plus Hill House: Best Western Plus Hill House is one of the best hotels where you can stay on the road trip from California to Chicago. Driving from California to Best Western Plus Hill House might take around one hour and 56 mins. This pet-friendly hotel is close to popular attractions in Bakersfield, including Rabobank Arena. It features a variety of thoughtful amenities, such as a complimentary continental breakfast, and is a short drive to many area points of interest. Check the Best Western Plus Hill House, one of the best Bakersfield, California hotels on TripAdvisor and Booking.com, for recent reviews, prices, and availability.
  2. Park MGM Las Vegas: Another top hotel where you can choose the stay on the road trip to Chicago from California is Park MGM Las Vegas. Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, the hotel is 389 miles away from California, and it would take 6 hours and 5 mins to drive. So instead, chef Roy Choi, the creator of LA’s famous street food spot Kogi, has teamed up with Bavette to bring the best of both worlds to the desert – a poolside restaurant that conjures the South of France and a bodega-style bar and eatery that brings the best of LA’s food scene to the desert. If you want to learn more about the Park MGM Las Vegas, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Booking.com.
  3. Best Western Plus Abbey Inn: Didn’t our first two hotel suggestions interest you? So we would like to introduce you to the Best Western Plus Abbey Inn. Best Western Plus Abbey Inn is located in St. George, Utah, and it’s 511 miles away from California. You can arrive there in 7 hours and 50 mins of non-stop driving. The Abbey Inn offers modern amenities and thoughtful design, making it stand out among other Saint George, UT hotels. They also have an in-house fitness room so that you can keep up your workout routine while on the road. Check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of Best Western Plus Abbey Inn for more information.
  4. La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Grand Junction: If you are taking the road trip from California to Chicago, Grand Junction, Colorado is must have a place you should visit. La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Grand Junction is one of the best hotels in town. It is La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Grand Junction, 900 miles from California, and it would take 13 hours and 18 mins to drive. Finding an ideal family-friendly hotel in Grand Junction doesn’t have to be complicated. The property also boasts a pool and complimentary breakfast. Free parking is available if you are driving to La Quinta Grand Junction Hotel. If you need more info about the price and availability of La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Grand Junction, check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages.
  5. The Oxford Hotel: Our next hotel is The Oxford Hotel, Denver, Colorado. It will take 17 hours, and 2 mins of car ride o reach this hotel from California. The Oxford Hotel is a historic hotel located in the Lower Downtown district of Denver. It features elements of the past combined with modern amenities, providing guests with a comfortable and classic experience. Check The Oxford Hotel on TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of The Oxford Hotel for reviews, prices, and availability.
  6. La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kearney: Another hotel you can accommodate on the road trip from California to Chicago is La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kearney. It’s possible to arrive at this hotel, located in Kearney, Nebraska, within 21 hours and 52 mins drive from California. The Wingate By Wyndham Kearney Hotel is a great place to stay if you’re interested in visiting Kearney’s famous landmark. Additionally, as a valued Wyndham Hotel guest, you can enjoy a pool and breakfast on-site.
    Before making the reservation, we suggest you read the latest reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking.com.
  7. Best Western Plus Lincoln Inn & Suites: Another hotel that deserves to be on the list is Best Western Plus Lincoln Inn & Suites. It’s located in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is 1,625 miles from California. You can arrive there within 23 hours and 39 mins of car drive. The business traveler will appreciate a spacious work desk and free internet access in all of our guest rooms. A complimentary hot breakfast is also offered each morning. You can check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of Best Western Plus Lincoln Inn & Suites if you need further information.
  8. Magnolia Hotel Omaha: Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Magnolia Hotel Omaha is another hotel where you can stay on California to Chicago road trip. Magnolia Hotel Omaha is 1,676 miles from California and will take one day of non-stop driving. This downtown Omaha hotel offers stylish rooms and suites near many primary corporate headquarters and offices. The hotel also features a lovely quiet courtyard for reading and a beautiful historic building. Check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of Magnolia Hotel Omaha for more information.
  9. Surety Hotel: As we approach the end of our list, another hotel we would like to introduce to you is the Surety Hotel. Surety Hotel, Des Moines, Iowa, is 1,807 miles from California, and you can arrive there in one day and 2 hours of non-stop driving. The Surety Courtyard in Des Moines is a great place to stay if you’re looking for top-notch service, fantastic design, and a unique Iowa experience. In addition, the courtyard is home to shared bites and live music, so you can relax and connect with friends. Check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of Surety Hotel for more information about the Surety Hotel hotel.

In this part, we explained nine different hotels you can stay at on the road trip from California to Chicago. You can pick one of them that suits your taste. Don’t forget to share your experience by writing a comment to this post. It will help people who will take some California to Chicago route.

Now, it’s time to discover the best restaurants from California to Chicago. We have nine restaurant recommendations worth your attention.

9 Best Restaurants On The Way To Chicago From California

If dining is a pleasure, some restaurants will please you on your California to Chicago road trip. This section lists the nine dining restaurants on the road trip from California to Chicago. Stay hungry and enjoy!

  1. 24th Street Cafe: We would like to start our restaurant recommendation list on the road trip from California to Chicago with 24th Street Cafe. 24th Street Cafe is located in Bakersfield, California, 108 miles from California. It would take one hour and 54 mins of driving. So, stop by this restaurant for a delicious meal if you’re in Bakersfield. They have a wide variety of food options that will make your old-fashioned dinner experience great. For more information about 24th Street Cafe, visit the TripAdvisor or Google Maps pages of 24th Street Cafe.
  2. Fresco Italiano, Las Vegas: Another top restaurant you can choose to eat at on the road trip to Chicago from California is Fresco Italiano, Las Vegas. Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, Fresco Italiano, Las Vegas is 393 miles from California and would take 6 hours and 9 mins of driving. Fresco Italiano is a Tuscan-inspired restaurant that specializes in creative Italian cuisine. Their dishes are often based on traditional pasta and sauce combinations, but they also offer a variety of handcrafted flatbreads, steaks, chicken, and seafood dishes. If you want to learn more about Fresco Italiano, Las Vegas, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps.
  3. Cliffside Restaurant: Another restaurant that can be preferred by those who are fond of food is Cliffside Restaurant. It will take 7 hours and 55 mins of car drive to take 513 miles from California to Cliffside Restaurant, St. George, Utah. The restaurant is on a cliff above the boulevard, overlooking the scenic St. George valley. The restaurant offers a unique experience you will not find elsewhere in southern Utah. For more information, you can check Cliffside Restaurant on TripAdvisor or Google Maps.
  4. Bin 707 Foodbar: Bin 707 Foodbar deserves to be on our list. It is one of the most recommended restaurants in Grand Junction, Colorado. Bin 707 Foodbar is a full-service Colorado restaurant that specializes in seasonal cuisine. They pride themselves on being environmentally conscious and using local, Colorado, and domestic sources when possible to create a unique, thoughtful experience for their customers time and time again. Bin 707 Foodbar is also a Zero Foodprint member, a 2018 Good Food 100 restaurant, and a James Beard Smart Catch “Leader” for its commitment to sustainability within the industry. Bin 707 Foodbar is 900 miles away from California, and it would take 13 hours and 22 mins of non-stop car driving. If you want to learn more about Bin 707 Foodbar, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps.
  5. Corinne Restaurant: If you enjoy dining, Corinne Restaurant would be an excellent choice in Denver, Colorado. It’s 1,141 miles from California and would take 17 hours and 2 mins of car driving. Corinne Denver is a contemporary restaurant with a comfortable design and a welcoming neighborhood environment perfect for gatherings with friends and colleagues. The menu offers hearty food choices as well as healthy options, making it the perfect place to enjoy a meal or drink. You can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps to learn more about Corinne Restaurant.
  6. Alley Rose: Another restaurant we recommend you to visit on the road trip from California to Chicago is Alley Rose, Kearney, Nebraska. It will take 21 hours and 54 mins of driving to reach Alley Rose from California. Alley Rose is a locally-owned bar and restaurant with an extensive menu. It’s located in the downtown area of Kearney, close to the railroad tracks. You can check TripAdvisor or Google Maps restaurant pages for more information about Alley Rose.
  7. The Green Gateau: Ranked seventh on our list, The Green Gateau appeals to those who want to turn their Chicago vacation into a memorable experience. Located in Lincoln, Nebraska, 1,621 miles away from California, and it’ll take 23 hours and 37 mins to drive. The food at the restaurant is fresh, vibrant, and on-trend. The restaurant offers weekly specials for all three meals-trying and refining dishes, adjusting seasonings and portion prices, and it never stops evolving. If you want to learn more about The Green Gateau, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps.
  8. M’s Pub: Corinne Restaurant is an excellent restaurant that is 1,677 miles away from California. Corinne Restaurant is located in Denver, Colorado, and you can reach there after one day of car driving. M’s Pub is a popular spot for locals and tourists, thanks to its timeless décor, casual atmosphere, and friendly service. The menu has something for everyone, ensuring diners always find something they enjoy. If you want to discover the menu and more information about M’s Pub, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps.
  9. Centro Restaurant: Eating is a serious business. Another restaurant that can be preferred by those who take this job seriously is the Centro Restaurant, Des Moines, Iowa. It is 2,055 miles from California and would take around one day and 6 hours of car driving. Centro’s delicious Italian-inspired food is expertly prepared with fresh ingredients and a lively, casual yet upscale atmosphere that makes it perfect for dining with friends, family, clients, and business associates. You can visit the official TripAdvisor and Google Maps pages of Centro Restaurant for detailed information.

This section lists our nine restaurant recommendations for you to eat on your road trip from California to Chicago. We hope these suggestions will help you turn your 2,140 miles journey into a feast of taste. Of course, you can choose a suitable restaurant from the list according to your preference. Remember, like you, people planning a Chicago road trip need your opinion. Therefore, we kindly ask you to share your experience with us in the comment field at the end of the blog post.

In the next section, we list the destinations worth seeing along the route from California to Chicago. Keep reading.

9 Places To Visit On The Way From California To Chicago

A unique experience awaits you in Chicago. However, on your road trip, there are also some unique destinations, like Bakersfield, California. We want to explain the top nine destinations we recommend on the Chicago route.

  • Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace: Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace will be the first destination we recommend you to stop by on your California to Chicago road trip. Located in Bakersfield, California, Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace is 108 miles away from California, and it would take one hour and 54 mins to drive. We enjoyed the live music while dining at this restaurant. The ambiance was great, and the service was excellent. It is a very family-friendly place too, with lots of memorabilia and art to enjoy. If you want to learn more about Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, you can check it on TripAdvisor or the official website.
  • Clark County Heritage Museum: Clark County Heritage Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the destinations we recommend you to stop by on California to Chicago route. It’s 404 miles from California, and it’ll take about 6 hours and 17 mins to drive. The museum is a 30-acre site that features exhibits on southern Nevada from pre-historic to modern times. The museum also has restored historic buildings that depict daily life from different decades in Las Vegas, Boulder City, Henderson, and Goldfield. I enjoyed learning about Las Vegas in the early years and all of the history associated with it. This place is worth a visit for anyone interested in southern Nevada history. If you want to learn more about Clark County Heritage Museum, you can check it on TripAdvisor or their website.
  • Red Hills Desert Garden: One of the stops you should not neglect to stop by when you take the road trip from California to Chicago is St. George, Utah. And if you visit St. George, Utah, we suggest you visit Red Hills Desert Garden. You can arrive at Red Hills Desert Garden after 7 hours and 55 mins of driving. The park is worth a stop, whether you’re looking for a quick caffeine fix or an opportunity to wake up the pathways. It’s free, peaceful and close to downtown. You can visit TripAdvisor and the official site of Red Hills Desert Garden for more information.
  • Downtown Grand Junction: Do you also like to travel and experience new things? Then, it would be best to visit Downtown Grand Junction, Colorado, on the road trip from California to Chicago. Downtown Grand Junction is 899 miles from California, and you can arrive there after the 13 hours and 21 mins of drive. Downtown is home to dozens of businesses with a local focus that offers a variety of products and services. In addition, there are public art, fountains, and historic buildings – as well as tantalizing local cuisine, unique gifts, and relaxing family fun. In addition, you should check TripAdvisor and the official website of Downtown Grand Junction before going there.
  • Denver Botanic Gardens: Located in Denver, Colorado, Denver Botanic Gardens ranks fifth in our list of tourist destinations on the Chicago road trip. You must take 17 hours and 5 mins of driving to arrive at Denver Botanic Gardens. The Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street has a diverse collection of gardens and plants worldwide. The gardens span more than 24 acres and include representations of different climates and regions. If you want to learn more about Denver Botanic Gardens, you can check it on TripAdvisor or the official website.
  • Great Platte River Road Archway Monument: Another attraction you can visit on a trip from California to Chicago is the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, Kearney, Nebraska. Great Platte River Road Archway Monument is 1,497 miles from California, and it would take 21 hours and 53 mins to drive. So instead, visit the Archway in Kearney, Nebraska, and learn about the epic adventure of those who followed the Great Platte River Road and helped to build America. This family-friendly historical exhibit tells the story of pioneers who traveled westward during the Oregon Trail era and modern-day adventurers who follow in their footsteps. For more information about Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, you can check their TripAdvisor page or official website.
  • Sunken Gardens, Lincoln: You can visit many destinations on your California to Chicago journey. One of these destinations is Sunken Gardens, Lincoln, in Lincoln, Nebraska. You can arrive at Sunken Gardens, Lincoln, after 23 hours and 41 mins of driving. This is an excellent spot for photography! The flowers are beautiful, and there are tons of butterflies flying around. There’s also a hidden statue and a koi pond. If you want to read the reviews of previous visitors about Sunken Gardens, Lincoln, you can visit Sunken Gardens, Lincoln’s TripAdvisor page, or their website.
  • Old Market: As we near the end of our list of the top 9 best places to visit on the road trip from California to Chicago, it would be unfair not to mention Old Market. Old Market locates in Omaha, Nebraska, 1,678 miles from California, and it takes one day to drive from California to get there. Omaha’s historic district is a popular tourist destination where visitors can stroll along the cobbled streets and explore the many preserved buildings. In addition, the district contains several notable landmarks, including the Union Pacific Depot and Omaha City Hall. If you want to learn more about Old Market, you can check it on TripAdvisor or the official website.
  • Capitol Building, Des Moines: Now, we would like to introduce you to another vibrant restaurant on the Chicago trip. Located in Des Moines, Iowa, Capitol Building, Des Moines is 1,808 miles from California, and it would take one day and 2 hours to drive. The State Capitol is an architectural and artistic showcase, as well as the seat of state government. If you have the time and interest, I recommend taking the free tour to learn more about its history and design. If you want to learn more about Capitol Building, Des Moines, you can check it on TripAdvisor or the official website.

FAQ of the Road Trip From California to Chicago

Here we are answering the frequently asked questions about California to Chicago drive.

How Long Is The Road Trip From California To Chicago?

  • With ideal traffic and weather conditions, the road trip takes approximately one day and 7 hours to drive. The distance between California to Chicago is 2,140 miles.
  • If you want to make California to Chicago road trip by bike, the time you spend on the road will be seven days and 17 hours.
  • If you are crazy enough and plan to walk the California-Chicago route, you will have to walk for 27 days and 18 hours.

Where Do You Stop On Driving From California To Chicago?

There are many beautiful pit stops along the way to Chicago. Here we list nine of them. For more information about the best places on California to Chicago journey, you can check the 9 Best Places To Visit On The Way From California To Chicago part.

  1. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace: 108 miles / one hour and 54 mins to drive from California | 2,034 miles / one day and 5 hours and of driving to Chicago.
  2. Clark County Heritage Museum: 404 miles / 6 hours and 17 mins to drive from California | 1,766 miles / one day and 2 hours and of driving to Chicago.
  3. Red Hills Desert Garden: 514 miles / 7 hours and 55 mins to drive from California | 1,629 miles / 23 hours and 32 mins of driving to Chicago.
  4. Downtown Grand Junction: 899 miles / 13 hours and 21 mins to drive from California | 1,243 miles / 18 hours and 10 mins of driving to Chicago.
  5. Denver Botanic Gardens: 1,142 miles / 17 hours and 5 mins to drive from California | 1,006 miles / 14 hours and 33 mins of driving to Chicago.
  6. Great Platte River Road Archway Monument: 1,497 miles / 21 hours and 53 mins to drive from California | 645 miles / 9 hours and 27 mins of driving to Chicago.
  7. Sunken Gardens, Lincoln: 1,623 miles / 23 hours and 41 mins to drive from California | 524 miles / 7 hours and 52 mins of driving to Chicago.
  8. Old Market: 1,678 miles / one day to drive from California | 468 miles / 7 hours and 2 mins of driving to Chicago.
  9. Capitol Building, Des Moines: 1,808 miles / one day and 2 hours and to drive from California | 333 miles / 5 hours and 4 mins of driving to Chicago.

Where Should You Stay On The Road Trip From California To Chicago?

There are many excellent hotels during your California to Chicago road trip. We have selected nine hotels for you. These hotels are listed below. Remember, you can find detailed information about these hotels in the 9 Best Hotels On The Way To Chicago From California section.

  • Best Western Plus Hill House: 110 miles / one hour and 56 mins to drive from California | 2,031 miles / one day and 5 hours and of driving to Chicago.
  • Park MGM Las Vegas: 389 miles / 6 hours and 5 mins to drive from California | 1,752 miles / one day and one hour and of driving to Chicago.
  • Best Western Plus Abbey Inn: 511 miles / 7 hours and 50 mins to drive from California | 1,630 miles / 23 hours and 29 mins of driving to Chicago.
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Grand Junction: 900 miles / 13 hours and 18 mins to drive from California | 1,242 miles / 18 hours and 3 mins of driving to Chicago.
  • The Oxford Hotel: 1,141 miles / 17 hours and 2 mins to drive from California | 1,002 miles / 14 hours and 26 mins of driving to Chicago.
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kearney: 1,494 miles / 21 hours and 52 mins to drive from California | 648 miles / 9 hours and 31 mins of driving to Chicago.
  • Best Western Plus Lincoln Inn & Suites: 1,625 miles / 23 hours and 39 mins to drive from California | 517 miles / 7 hours and 41 mins of driving to Chicago.
  • Magnolia Hotel Omaha: 1,676 miles / one day to drive from California | 470 miles / 7 hours and 2 mins of driving to Chicago.
  • Surety Hotel: 1,807 miles / one day and 2 hours and to drive from California | 334 miles / 5 hours and 5 mins of driving to Chicago.

Where To Eat Between California to Chicago?

If you are thinking of taking a break and having a nice meal on your California to Chicago journey, you can consider the nine restaurants we have chosen. In addition, you can read detailed information about the restaurants in the section titled 9 Best Restaurants On The Way From California To Chicago.

  1. 24th Street Cafe: 108 miles / one hour and 54 mins to drive from California | 2,032 miles / one day and 5 hours of driving to Chicago.
  2. Fresco Italiano, Las Vegas: 393 miles / 6 hours and 9 mins to drive from California | 1,750 miles / one day and one hour and of driving to Chicago.
  3. Cliffside Restaurant: 513 miles / 7 hours and 55 mins to drive from California | 1,630 miles / 23 hours and 33 mins of driving to Chicago.
  4. Bin 707 Foodbar: 900 miles / 13 hours and 22 mins to drive from California | 1,245 miles / 18 hours and 9 mins of driving to Chicago.
  5. Corinne Restaurant: 1,141 miles / 17 hours and 2 mins to drive from California | 1,004 miles / 14 hours and 29 mins of driving to Chicago.
  6. Alley Rose: 1,496 miles / 21 hours and 54 mins to drive from California | 649 miles / 9 hours and 33 mins of driving to Chicago.
  7. The Green Gateau: 1,621 miles / 23 hours and 37 mins to drive from California | 522 miles / 7 hours and 45 mins of driving to Chicago.
  8. M’s Pub: 1,677 miles / one day to drive from California | 468 miles / 7 hours and 2 mins of driving to Chicago.
  9. Centro Restaurant: 2,055 miles / one day and 6 hours and to drive from California | 410 miles / 6 hours and 20 mins of driving to Chicago.

Conclusion

So, there you have it- a complete guide to planning a road trip from California to Chicago. We have listed nine hotels, nine restaurants, and nine places to visit on the way. We have also given you detailed information about each place so that you can make an informed choice about where to stay, eat, and what to see. We hope this guide has helped make your road trip from California to Chicago as enjoyable as possible.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you ever taken a road trip from California to Chicago? So, it would be perfect if you shared your experience with other travelers who want the same experience. You can share your thoughts about the road trip from California to Chicago and your recommendations about this route by using the comment field below.

Video: Chicago Road Trip: Top 10 Things to Do in Chicago

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Ece

Hi, I'm Ece. Join me in navigating memorable road trips around the USA, Europe, and Australia. I provide valuable tips and destination guides, sometimes enhanced by AI. Let's hit the road and make memories!

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