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Chicago To California Road Trip: The Ultimate Guide

Note: This guide was last updated 1 year and 2 months and 22 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 If you've spotted anything that seems a bit out-of-date or if you have some killer tips to share, we're all ears!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 Chicago to California is one of the best journeys you can experience in the USA. The 2,139 miles of road trip from Chicago to California takes around one day and 7 hours of driving without stops.

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

9 Best Hotels On The Way From Chicago To California

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

  1. Surety Hotel: Surety Hotel is one of the best hotels where you can stay on the road trip from Chicago to California. Driving from Chicago to Surety Hotel might take around 5 hours. The Surety Courtyard is a hotel in Des Moines that offers unmatched service, incredible design, a superior level of hospitality, and an Iowa experience that is unique for travelers and locals. There are many shared spaces where guests can gather to share bites or drinks, and the live music venue provides a great place to socialize. Check the Surety Hotel, one of the best hotels in Des Moines, Iowa, on TripAdvisor and Booking.com for recent reviews, prices, and availability.
  2. Magnolia Hotel Omaha: Another top hotel where you can choose the stay on the road trip to California from Chicago is Magnolia Hotel Omaha. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, the hotel is 467 miles away from Chicago, and it would take 6 hours and 55 mins to drive. This downtown Omaha hotel offers attractive rooms and suites close to many primary corporate headquarters and offices. The courtyard is a lovely place to read, relax, or take in the beauty of the historic building. If you want to learn more about the Magnolia Hotel Omaha, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Booking.com.
  3. Best Western Plus Lincoln Inn & Suites: Didn’t our first two hotel suggestions interest you? So we would like to introduce you to the Best Western Plus Lincoln Inn & Suites. Best Western Plus Lincoln Inn & Suites is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, and it’s 516 miles away from Chicago. So you can arrive there with 7 hours 35 mins of non-stop driving. If you’re a business traveler, our guest rooms have plenty of workspaces and free internet access. In addition, we serve a complimentary breakfast each morning. Check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of Best Western Plus Lincoln Inn & Suites for more information.
  4. La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kearney: If you are taking the road trip from Chicago to California, Kearney, Nebraska, is must have a place you should visit. La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kearney is one of the best hotels in town. It is La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kearney, 646 miles from Chicago, and it would take 9 hours and 25 mins to drive. This hotel is an excellent option for travelers visiting Kearney’s famous landmark. Additionally, as a Wingate By Wyndham Kearney Hotel guest, you can enjoy access to the hotel’s pool and breakfast offerings. If you need more info about the price and availability of La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kearney, check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages.
  5. The Oxford Hotel: Our next hotel is The Oxford Hotel, Denver, Colorado. It will take 14 hours, and 25 mins of car ride o reach this hotel from Chicago. The Oxford Hotel is a historic hotel in the popular Lower Downtown neighborhood of Denver. The hotel combines elements of the past with modern conveniences, 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 Grand Junction: Another hotel you can accommodate on the road trip from Chicago to California is La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Grand Junction. It’s possible to arrive at this hotel in Grand Junction, Colorado, within 18 hours drive from Chicago. Finding a family-friendly hotel in Grand Junction is not tricky. The property also boasts a pool and complimentary breakfast. Free parking is available if you drive to the La Quinta Grand Junction Hotel. Before making the reservation, we suggest you read the latest reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking.com.
  7. Best Western Plus Abbey Inn: Another hotel that deserves to be on the list is Best Western Plus Abbey Inn. It’s located in St. George, Utah, and is 1,629 miles from Chicago. You can arrive there within 23 hours 27 mins of car drive. The Best Western Plus Abbey Inn in Saint George, UT, offers guests modern amenities, thoughtful design, and an in-house fitness room. This makes it stand out among other Saint George hotels. If you need further information, you can check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of Best Western Plus Abbey Inn.
  8. Park MGM Las Vegas: Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, Park MGM Las Vegas is another hotel where you can stay on the Chicago to California road trip. Park MGM Las Vegas is 1,752 miles from Chicago and will take one day and 1 hour of non-stop driving. Chef Roy Choi brings the best of Los Angeles’ food scene to the desert with bodega-style bars and eateries at Bavette’s Pool Bar and Grill. Enjoy flair without the formality at Bavette’s, where handcrafted cocktails are a specialty. Check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of Park MGM Las Vegas for more information.
  9. Best Western Plus Hill House: As we approach the end of our list, another hotel we would like to introduce to you is the Best Western Plus Hill House hotel. Best Western Plus Hill House, Bakersfield, California, is 2,029 miles from Chicago, and you can arrive there within one day and 5 hours of non-stop driving. This pet-friendly hotel is close to Rabobank Arena and many other popular attractions and is a short drive to areas of interest. In addition, it offers complimentary continental breakfast and on-site restaurant dining options. Check the TripAdvisor and Booking.com pages of Best Western Plus Hill House for more information about the Best Western Plus Hill House hotel.

In this part, we explained nine different hotels you can stay at on the road trip from Chicago to California. 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 the same Chicago to California route.

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

9 Best Restaurants On The Way To California From Chicago

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

  1. Centro Restaurant: We would like to start our restaurant recommendation list on the road trip from Chicago to California with Centro Restaurant. Centro Restaurant is located in Des Moines, Iowa, 334 miles from Chicago. It would take 5 hours of driving. At Centro, we pride ourselves on the delicious Italian-inspired food we serve, which is made with fresh ingredients and expertly prepared. Whether you’re ordering a multi-course meal or picking up some pizza at the bar, Centro has an atmosphere that’s lively and casual yet upscale enough for social gatherings. For more information about Centro Restaurant, you can visit the TripAdvisor or Google Maps pages of Centro Restaurant.
  2. M’s Pub: Another top restaurant you can choose to eat at on the road trip to California from Chicago is M’s Pub. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, M’s Pub is 466 miles from Chicago and would take 6 hours and 55 mins of driving. M’s Pub offers a casual atmosphere and extensive regular menu, which helps make dining genuinely pleasurable. The Pub’s timeless décor, casual atmosphere, and friendly service make it a popular spot for guests of all ages. If you want to learn more about M’s Pub, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps.
  3. The Green Gateau: Another restaurant that can be preferred by those who are fond of food is The Green Gateau. It will take 7 hours 41 mins of car drive to take 522 miles from Chicago to The Green Gateau, Lincoln, Nebraska. The food at the restaurant has been popular for many years, and it continues to be well-received. The menu is colorful, bold, and classic – with weekly specials for all three meals. The quality of the food remains consistent, with careful seasoning adjustments made to keep it fresh. You can check The Green Gateau on TripAdvisor or Google Maps for more information.
  4. Alley Rose: Alley Rose deserves to be on our list. It is one of the most recommended restaurants in Kearney, Nebraska. Alley Rose is a popular bar and restaurant in Kearney that offers a large variety of food. The establishment is well known for its friendly staff and local atmosphere. Alley Rose is 648 miles from Chicago and would take 9 hours and 28 mins of non-stop car driving. If you want to learn more about Alley Rose, 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 1,002 miles from Chicago and would take 14 hours and 28 mins of car driving. Corinne Denver, with its modern, comfortable design and welcoming neighborhood environment, provides a place to gather with friends and colleagues for honest food + drink. You can learn more about Corinne Restaurant on TripAdvisor or Google Maps.
  6. Bin 707 Foodbar: Another restaurant we recommend you to visit on the road trip from Chicago to California is Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction, Colorado. It will take 18 hours and 8 mins of driving to reach Bin 707 Foodbar from Chicago. Bin 707 Foodbar is a seasonal Colorado restaurant that focuses on sustainable sourcing. The restaurant was awarded a Good Food 100 designation in 2018 and 2019 and has also been designated as a Zero Foodprint member. This dedication to sustainability makes Bin 707 Foodbar one of the industry’s leaders in terms of sustainability goals. For more information about Bin 707 Foodbar, you can check the TripAdvisor or Google Maps pages of the restaurant.
  7. Cliffside Restaurant: Ranked seventh on our list, Cliffside Restaurant appeals to those who want to turn their California vacation into a memorable experience. Located in St. George, Utah, 1,630 miles from Chicago, it’ll take 23 hours and 31 mins to drive. The restaurant has a beautiful view overlooking the scenic St. George valley and is one of the only places in southern Utah that offers such an experience. If you want to learn more about Cliffside Restaurant, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps.
  8. Fresco Italiano: Corinne Restaurant is an excellent restaurant that is 793 miles away from Chicago. Corinne Restaurant is located in Denver, Colorado, and you can reach there after 13 hours and 24 mins of car driving. Fresco Italiano is a Tuscan-inspired Las Vegas restaurant specializing in creative Italian cuisine. Their menu features pasta dishes with homemade sauces, flatbreads, chicken, and seafood dishes, all prepared with the utmost care. If you want to discover the menu and more information about Fresco Italiano, you can check it on TripAdvisor or Google Maps.
  9. 24th Street Cafe: Eating is serious business. Another restaurant that can be preferred by those who take this job seriously is the 24th Street Cafe, Bakersfield, California. It is 2,030 miles from Chicago and would take around one day and 5 hours of car driving. If you’re in the Bakersfield area, stop by this restaurant. They have a wide variety of food and an old-time dinner feeling that is great. You can visit the official TripAdvisor and Google Maps pages of 24th Street Cafe for detailed information.

This section lists our nine restaurant recommendations for you to eat on your road trip from Chicago to California. We hope these suggestions will help you turn your 2,139 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 California 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 Chicago to California. Keep reading.

9 Places To Visit On The Way From Chicago To California

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

  • Capitol Building: Capitol Building will be the first destination we recommend you to stop by on your Chicago to California road trip. Located in Des Moines, Iowa, Capitol Building is 704 miles away from Chicago, and it would take 11 hours and 41 mins to drive. The building is a well-designed and beautiful architectural showcase and the state capital. If you have time and interest, I recommend taking the free tour to learn more about its history and design. If you want to learn more about the Capitol Building, you can check it on TripAdvisor or the official website.
  • Old Market: Old Market, Omaha, Nebraska, is one of the destinations we recommend you to stop by on the Chicago to California route. It’s 466 miles from Chicago, and it’ll take about 6 hours and 55 mins to drive. Omaha is a historically significant city, and its preserved buildings are a valuable tourist attraction. In addition, the cobbled streets and historic architecture make it an exciting place to walk around. If you want to learn more about Old Market, you can check it on TripAdvisor or their website.
  • Sunken Gardens: One of the stops you should not neglect to stop by when you take the road trip from Chicago to California is Lincoln, Nebraska. And if you visit Lincoln, Nebraska, we suggest you visit Sunken Gardens. You can arrive at Sunken Gardens after 18 hours and 39 mins of driving. This is an excellent spot for photography. The flowers are beautiful, and many butterflies are hidden among the statues and the koi pond. You can visit TripAdvisor and the official site of Sunken Gardens for more information.
  • Great Platte River Road Archway Monument: Do you also like to travel and experience new things? Then, it would be best to visit Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, Kearney, Nebraska, on the road trip from Chicago to California. Great Platte River Road Archway Monument is 643 miles from Chicago, and you can arrive there after the 9 hours 22 mins of drive. 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 through this area during different eras of American history. In addition, you should check TripAdvisor and the official website of the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument before going there.
  • Denver Botanic Gardens: Located in Denver, Colorado, Denver Botanic Gardens ranks fifth in our list of tourist destinations on the California road trip. You must take 14 hours and 32 mins of driving to arrive at Denver Botanic Gardens. Located on York Street in Denver, the Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street boasts a large variety of gardens and collections that illustrate an ever-widening diversity of plants from all corners of the world. Spanning more than 24 acres, the gardens contain many styles, including traditional English and Japanese gardens. If you want to learn more about Denver Botanic Gardens, you can check it on TripAdvisor or the official website.
  • Downtown Grand Junction: Another attraction you can visit on the road trip from Chicago to California is Downtown Grand Junction, Grand Junction, Colorado. Downtown Grand Junction is 1,242 miles from Chicago, and it would take 18 hours and 9 mins to drive. Downtown is home to dozens of shops, restaurants, and galleries that are all locally owned. The tree-lined streets and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere make it a great place to spend a day shopping or dining. There are also public art installations, fountains, and historic buildings to explore. All of this makes Downtown an ideal place for family fun as well as relaxation. For more information about Downtown Grand Junction, you can check their TripAdvisor page or official website.
  • Red Hills Desert Garden: You can visit many destinations on your Chicago to California journey. One of these destinations is Red Hills Desert Garden, St. George, Utah. You can arrive at Red Hills Desert Garden after 23 hours and 27 mins of driving. The landscaping is worth a stop, and the pathways are peaceful and close to Downtown. It’s free, so it’s a great way to spend an afternoon. If you want to read the reviews of previous visitors about Red Hills Desert Garden, you can visit Red Hills Desert Garden’s TripAdvisor page or their website.
  • Clark County Heritage Museum: As we near the end of our list of the top 9 best places to visit on the road trip from Chicago to California, it would be unfair not to mention Clark County Heritage Museum. Clark County Heritage Museum locates in Las Vegas, Nevada, 1,768 miles from Chicago, and it takes one day 1-hour drive from Chicago to get there. The museum is a large site that features a modern exhibit hall with exhibits about southern Nevada from pre-historic to modern times and historic buildings that depict daily life in different decades in Las Vegas, Boulder City, Henderson, and Goldfield. In addition, this museum has some excellent exhibits on Las Vegas history. I found the timeline exhibit on southern Nevada fascinating. The collection of restored historic buildings is also very well done. If you want to learn more about Clark County Heritage Museum, you can check it on TripAdvisor or the official website.
  • Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace: Now, we would like to introduce you to another vibrant restaurant on the California trip. Located in Bakersfield, California, Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace is 2,032 miles from Chicago, and it would take one day and 5 hours to drive. We found the live music and ambiance charming while dining at this restaurant. The service was good, and the family-friendly atmosphere made it a great place to spend an evening. The museum and memorabilia add even more character to this unique establishment. If you want to learn more about Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, you can check it on TripAdvisor or the official website.

FAQ of the Road Trip From Chicago to California

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

How Long Is The Road Trip From Chicago To California?

  • With ideal traffic and weather conditions, the road trip takes approximately one day and 7 hours to drive. The distance between Chicago to California is 2,139 miles.
  • If you want to make the Chicago to California 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 Chicago-California route, you will have to walk for 27 days and 19 hours.

Where Do You Stop On Driving From Chicago To California?

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

  1. Capitol Building: 704 miles / 11 hours 41 mins to drive from Chicago | 2,772 miles / day 18 hours of driving to California.
  2. Old Market: 466 miles / 6 hours 55 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,677 miles / 1 day 1 hour of driving to California.
  3. Sunken Gardens: 1,167 miles / 18 hours 39 mins to drive from Chicago | 2,683 miles / one day 16 hours of driving to California.
  4. Great Platte River Road Archway Monument: 643 miles / 9 hours 22 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,497 miles / 21 hours 57 mins of driving to California.
  5. Denver Botanic Gardens: 1,004 miles / 14 hours 32 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,142 miles / 17 hours 5 mins of driving to California.
  6. Downtown Grand Junction: 1,242 miles / 18 hours 9 mins to drive from Chicago | 899 miles / 13 hours 21 mins of driving to California.
  7. Red Hills Desert Garden: 1,628 miles / 23 hours 27 mins to drive from Chicago | 514 miles / 7 hours 58 mins of driving to California.
  8. Clark County Heritage Museum: 1,768 miles / one day 1 hour to drive from Chicago | 402 miles / 6 hours 21 mins of driving to California.
  9. Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace: 2,032 miles / day 5 hours to drive from Chicago | 107 miles / 1 hour 53 mins of driving to California.

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

There are many excellent hotels during your Chicago to California 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 California From Chicago section.

  • Surety Hotel: 333 miles / 5 hours 0 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,807 miles / one day 2 hours of driving to California.
  • Magnolia Hotel Omaha: 467 miles / 6 hours 55 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,676 miles / 1 day 0 hours of driving to California.
  • Best Western Plus Lincoln Inn & Suites: 516 miles / 7 hours 35 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,625 miles / 23 hours 46 mins of driving to California.
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Kearney: 646 miles / 9 hours 25 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,494 miles / 21 hours 55 mins of driving to California.
  • The Oxford Hotel: 1,001 miles / 14 hours 25 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,141 miles / 17 hours 2 mins of driving to California.
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Grand Junction: 1,241 miles / 18 hours 1 min to drive from Chicago | 900 miles / 13 hours 19 mins of driving to California.
  • Best Western Plus Abbey Inn: 1,629 miles / 23 hours 27 mins to drive from Chicago | 511 miles / 7 hours 51 mins of driving to California.
  • Park MGM Las Vegas: 1,752 miles / one day 1 hour to drive from Chicago | 389 miles / 6 hours 7 mins of driving to California.
  • Best Western Plus Hill House: 2,029 miles / one day 5 hours to drive from Chicago | 109 miles / 1 hour 56 mins of driving to California.

Where To Eat Between Chicago to California?

If you are thinking of taking a break and having a nice meal on your Chicago to California 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 Chicago To California.

  1. Centro Restaurant: 334 miles / 5 hours 1 min to drive from Chicago | 1,807 miles/ one day 2 hours of driving to California.
  2. M’s Pub: 466 miles / 6 hours 55 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,677 miles / 1 day 1 hour of driving to California.
  3. The Green Gateau: 522 miles / 7 hours 41 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,622 miles / 23 hours 44 mins of driving to California.
  4. Alley Rose: 648 miles / 9 hours 28 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,496 miles / 21 hours 58 mins of driving to California.
  5. Corinne Restaurant: 1,002 miles / 14 hours 28 mins to drive from Chicago | 1,141 miles / 17 hours 4 mins of driving to California.
  6. Bin 707 Foodbar: 1,242 miles / 18 hours 8 mins to drive from Chicago | 899 miles / 13 hours 21 mins of driving to California.
  7. Cliffside Restaurant: 1,630 miles / 23 hours 31 mins to drive from Chicago | 513 miles / 7 hours 55 mins of driving to California.
  8. Fresco Italiano: 793 miles / 13 hours 24 mins to drive from Chicago | 2,410 miles/ one day 11 hours of driving to California.
  9. 24th Street Cafe: 2,030 miles/day 5 hours to drive from Chicago | 108 miles / 1 hour 54 mins of driving to California.

Conclusion

So, there you have it- a complete guide to planning a road trip from Chicago to California. 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 Chicago to California enjoyable.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you ever taken a road trip from Chicago to California? 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 Chicago to California and your recommendations about this route by using the comment field below.

Video: California Road Trip – 20 Places to Visit at California

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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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