Anyone drive from OH to CA?

ToyStory3

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 29, 2013
We are thinking of making our summer vacation a road trip from OH to CA and back. We love road trips but this would be the longest we've done. My son is intensely afraid of flying right now so flying is not an option. My daughter and I have been to CA and we fell in love with DL. We want our whole family to see it together. We want to see some sights on the way but not drag out the trip too long. I'm figuring about 3 days there, 3 days back, and about a week in CA.

I don't want to try to go too many places in CA since we'll only have about a week there. My favorite place is Laguna Beach So, I thought we'd do 3 days there, 4 days in DL, then head back. I think that someday my son will get past his fear of flying and we'll be able to go back and do more. I want to explore Northern CA and Yosemite. But, not going to try to fit it in on this trip.

Anyone else road trip from OH to CA?? Thanks for any thoughts or advice!
 

nikibyrd724

Earning My Ears
Joined
Feb 24, 2020
Are you planning on staying on the 80? It will take you in, I believe. To the I5. Then down the 5 you go. You get to see some of the beautiful midwest this way. We travel a lot. If you are not RVing, I would advise you to become a member of a hotel chain and map your route so you can grab those points. The difference between a 1 star like Super 8(Wyndam) or a holiday inn.... about $20 when all is said and done. Super 8s are clean, but cramped. Holiday inns are spacious and include breakfast. Gas prices vary throughout the country, California has some of the highest prices reaching $4 gal. Also, traffic in SoCal is terrifying sometimes if you are not used to it.

Add up your costs and see if its comparable to the train. You'll still might spend the same amount of time give or take an hour or so travelling. You might enjoy that better and just Lyft or uber or ART to your parks.
 


ToyStory3

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 29, 2013
I have a terrible time on the Amtrak website. But, as far as I can tell it would be over $2000 each way if we want a place to sleep and a shower.
 
  • nikibyrd724

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 24, 2020
    Oh holy wow! Sounds like a road trip for you guys. I must say, I am a bit jealous. You know, you might could change it up a little. Head over to Chicago and pop on route 66 to Santa Monica. Cars themed. Check out some serious Americana history. Might lengthen the trip, but man would that be legendary.
     

    TikiRob

    In a Tropical Hideaway
    Joined
    Apr 4, 2018
    As an Ohioan, I'd love to make that trek. My wife–no way! We are flying there this month. From what I understand, there are long stretches with not much to see.

    I agree that I'd take route 66 at least one way. From what I've researched, is it is an extra few hundred miles. Luckily, if you take that route, there are few road trips that have been written about more. You won't have a lack of research and documentation on the trip!
     

    nikibyrd724

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 24, 2020
    I actually checked how far Chi town is from the CLE. It's about a 5ish hour detour on the 90. I suppose it really depends on where you are in Oh10.
     

    China Expat

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 29, 2014
    Three days in Laguna will give you at least two days to see San Diego and Coronado, or at least Lego Land in Carlsbad.
     
  • Fred M

    DIS Dad #860
    Joined
    Jul 1, 2019
    I've never done that road trip (although I'd love to one day), but just a few caveats.

    If you take I-80, you'll want to head south on I-15 when you hit Salt Lake. Unfortunately, if you stay on I-80 the whole way to California, you'll end up in Sacramento and you'll be too far north of Disneyland (400+ miles north). But you could at least have lunch with my wife and I 😂

    The primary disadvantage from taking I-80 or I-70 is getting stuck taking I-15 through Las Vegas. Traffic to/from Vegas on I-15 from California can be notoriously bad, especially if you hit Vegas around a Friday or Sunday.

    Taking I-40 gets you past the worst of the traffic going to/from Vegas on I-15. Also, I-40 and I-44 is most of the old Route 66 route, and if I'd get off the interstate to see parts of Route 66, I'd probably pick New Mexico.

    If it were me, I'd come out to California on I-40/I-44, and on the way back, I'd probably go I-70.
     

    LAS2AMS

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 9, 2006
    I've made the drive between my home in Orange County and Metro Detroit (where I have family) several times. From Metro Detroit, the shortest route brings you around the outskirts in Indiana, Illinois (Chicago), Iowa, then directly through Omaha and Lincoln, then around the outskirts of Nebraska and into the plains of Colorado. You then travel through Denver, then into and through the Rocky Mountains, rural Utah, a piece of Arizona, then through Nevada and directly into Las Vegas. From there, it's the standard drive into Los Angeles. You're largely avoiding populated areas, and if you time your travels well, you won't run into any traffic. The drive is scenic, with plenty of lookout points once you get past Denver. Note that most of the drive is pretty remote -- once you make it to Utah, the speed limit hits 85 and you'll go through miles without seeing another car (and often 60+ miles without seeing an exit with gas and food). We're in our late 30s and don't find the drive to be that bad; cell coverage is good throughout most of the journey, which keeps the kids occupied.

    That said, I second the Amtak option. They do BOGO sales several times per year, including offers for the summer. We booked a trip this summer doing just that -- $36 for two adult tickets from Detroit-area to Chicago, then $184 for two adult tickets from Chicago-Los Angeles (the BOGO offer doesn't apply to the lowest fares; kids travel at a lower rate, some ages are free but it varies among the line). IMO, a room is completely unnecessary - the coach seats are huge and very comfortable -- more comfortable than the roomettes IMO. Bring some toiletries to clean up (tons of bathrooms, so it's never an issue), you won't need a shower since you'll largely be inactive. The Chief is one of the last Amtrak routes with a full dining car - prices seem high, but you don't have to leave a full tip (its built into the meal...these are unionized employees making big bucks + likely better benefits than you or me... not somebody working for a tipping wage). There's also a cafe below the observation car, and fresh items are typically sold for 50% off latter in the trip. Otherwise, bring a cooler... the nice thing about Amtrak is that you can bring as much luggage with you as you'd like and nobody will say a word. Note that Amtrak takes a much different route than you would drive... the route running from Oakland-area to Chicago travels the route you would mostly drive.
     

    ToyStory3

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 29, 2013
    I've made the drive between my home in Orange County and Metro Detroit (where I have family) several times. From Metro Detroit, the shortest route brings you around the outskirts in Indiana, Illinois (Chicago), Iowa, then directly through Omaha and Lincoln, then around the outskirts of Nebraska and into the plains of Colorado. You then travel through Denver, then into and through the Rocky Mountains, rural Utah, a piece of Arizona, then through Nevada and directly into Las Vegas. From there, it's the standard drive into Los Angeles. You're largely avoiding populated areas, and if you time your travels well, you won't run into any traffic. The drive is scenic, with plenty of lookout points once you get past Denver. Note that most of the drive is pretty remote -- once you make it to Utah, the speed limit hits 85 and you'll go through miles without seeing another car (and often 60+ miles without seeing an exit with gas and food). We're in our late 30s and don't find the drive to be that bad; cell coverage is good throughout most of the journey, which keeps the kids occupied.

    That said, I second the Amtak option. They do BOGO sales several times per year, including offers for the summer. We booked a trip this summer doing just that -- $36 for two adult tickets from Detroit-area to Chicago, then $184 for two adult tickets from Chicago-Los Angeles (the BOGO offer doesn't apply to the lowest fares; kids travel at a lower rate, some ages are free but it varies among the line). IMO, a room is completely unnecessary - the coach seats are huge and very comfortable -- more comfortable than the roomettes IMO. Bring some toiletries to clean up (tons of bathrooms, so it's never an issue), you won't need a shower since you'll largely be inactive. The Chief is one of the last Amtrak routes with a full dining car - prices seem high, but you don't have to leave a full tip (its built into the meal...these are unionized employees making big bucks + likely better benefits than you or me... not somebody working for a tipping wage). There's also a cafe below the observation car, and fresh items are typically sold for 50% off latter in the trip. Otherwise, bring a cooler... the nice thing about Amtrak is that you can bring as much luggage with you as you'd like and nobody will say a word. Note that Amtrak takes a much different route than you would drive... the route running from Oakland-area to Chicago travels the route you would mostly drive.

    Hi - this is super helpful! I've been trying to find out more information about Amtrak and haven't been very successful. So, Coach seats would be comfortable for all 4 of us to get to California and back? How easy is it to sleep in the seats? Thanks so much for the info!!
     

    FreeTime

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 11, 2000
    We took 2 weeks driving from central OH. With three adult drivers we made it in 36 hours over two days. Our goal was to get there and take our time coming back. We spent and afternoon in LA then 3 nights at DL. From there we went to Yosemite then to Lake Tahoe for a few days. Took our time coming back and went to the Grand Canyon, kingman, and some roadside stops on the way.
     
  • fsjking

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 14, 2016
    In a past life I drove from Cincy to California...... Except I never made it past Vegas.... Turned around and went to Tampa after a few days.

    Hell of a trip. Lots of stories. Best advice, don't do it in Winter months. Driving for 2 hours at 90 mph in a blizzard on 70 when the only thing in the world you can see is the tail lights on the semi 20 feet in front of you will change you.
     

    LAS2AMS

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 9, 2006
    Hi - this is super helpful! I've been trying to find out more information about Amtrak and haven't been very successful. So, Coach seats would be comfortable for all 4 of us to get to California and back? How easy is it to sleep in the seats? Thanks so much for the info!!
    Yes, the coach seats on long distance trains are very comfortable -- they're comparable to a classic business class seat on a long distance flight. Tons of legroom, tons of recline and there's both a foot rest and leg rest. Personally, I find them to be significantly more comfortable than the roomette -- the seats in the roomette turn into a bed, but it's a short bed, and when it's in a seating position, it's much more cramped. You'll be exploring the train throughout your journey, whether it's in the panoramic lounge, cafe or dining car, so in the unlikely event one person has trouble seating, when the others are up, that person can stretch out and catch up. I have no trouble sleeping in those seats, and I'm somebody who falls asleep easier.

    The good new is that the train that runs from Chicago to Toledo, Cleveland, etc. continues onto NYC/Boston or D.C. and has the long distance seating, so you'd have a similar seat on both trains (the train from Ohio to Chicago uses single level equipment, whereas the train from Chicago to Los Angeles uses bi-level). Note that the second to last stop on the Southwest Chief (Chicago->Los Angeles) is Fullerton. Fullerton is only a couple miles further from Disneyland than the Anaheim Station.
     

    bcla

    On our rugged Eastern foothills.....
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    Hi - this is super helpful! I've been trying to find out more information about Amtrak and haven't been very successful. So, Coach seats would be comfortable for all 4 of us to get to California and back? How easy is it to sleep in the seats? Thanks so much for the info!!
    Here's a photo of a the upper level of a Superliner car:



    I've only been overnight on Amtrak once. It's an interesting way to travel. I had a seat mate and basically we never said anything to each other. In the dining car though you'll generally never have a seat all to yourself. They always put people together. It's supposed to be part of the experience.

    There is no center armrest, and I'm not sure if that will be a problem. However, the seats are huge. Someone said business class. More like a the space of a traditional first class airline seat. Because it's so far in front, the tray drops and then has to slide back to be within reach. There are also two 120V outlets on the side.
     

    Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    Wow, that would be a heck of a drive. We did Detroit to L.A. last summer, but we went the long way round and took weeks. Even the drive home, which we did mostly straight through, took 5 days. If I were going to do it in a shorter timeframe, I'd lean towards taking the train rather than driving. At least that way, fatigue isn't so much of an issue, you can enjoy the scenery and sleep as needed, and you'll arrive energetic and ready to explore.
     

    taaren

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 17, 2010
    Are you still planning on taking this trip?

    I've driven from Michigan to San Diego, but that was in 2000 when I moved from there to my new state with a car full of my college apartment stuff. We stopped to see friends in Nebraska, watch some shows in Denver, eat at some buffets in Vegas but all the activities I did on that trip weren't really kid-friendly (well I was 19 at the time ... so maybe a different kind of kid).

    There's a lot of corn fields on this drive, and I remember southern Utah winds trying to blow my car off the highway. I'd third the Amtrak option.
     

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