The exact distance from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast varies based on your starting coast, your ending coast, and your route between the two coasts. On average, it’s anywhere from 2,400 to 3,500 miles coast to coast across the U.S. One popular route known as the Southern Route is 2,650 miles from Miami, Florida, to San Diego, California. Other routes have longer mileages but expose you to different parts of the country.
Details of the Southern Route
As the name suggests, the southern route sticks to some of the southernmost states of the U.S. After starting out from San Diego, California, you’ll drive through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
Although this route is one of the shortest ways to traverse from the West Coast to the East Coast, it isn’t your most picturesque option. This route includes a lot of time driving through isolated or desert regions. You’ll want to make sure you take a vehicle with a strong air conditioner as this route takes you across states known for having hot, stifling temperatures.
Details of the Northern Route
If you don’t like hot weather, consider taking the northern route. This route takes you from Houlton, Maine, to Pacific Beach State Park in Washington. Your entire drive is about 3,500 miles. After leaving Maine, you’ll drive through New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana before arriving at the Washington coastline.
The northern route isn’t your quickest option, but it takes you through many interesting cities and sites. It also boasts a variety of gorgeous scenery, including the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. This route makes for a fantastic journey, but it’s important to be aware of hazardous driving conditions that can impact your journey. Many of the states in this route have snow, ice, or other frozen precipitation during the late fall, winter, and early spring. Should you decide to go this route, try to stick with traveling in late spring, summer, or early fall.
Details of the Southern Pacific Route
The southern Pacific route is a slightly shorter variation on the southern route. With this alternative, Tybee Island, Georgia, is one of your end or starting points. Like the southern route, San Diego is the other end or starting point.
Expect the southern Pacific route to be approximately 2,400 miles in length. When traveling this route, you’ll go through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Even though this route includes a fair share of time in the desert, it also takes you through plains and bayous.
Details of the Panhandle Crossing
The Panhandle Crossing takes you from the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, to Los Angeles, California. This route is right at 2,500 miles. It takes you through the same states as the southern Pacific route but also allows you to hit South Carolina during your travels.
Details of the Middle-America Route
The middle-America route is approximately 2,800 miles, and it includes sites and states not found on any of the other cross country routes. You start in San Francisco, California, and then head through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. You’ll also pass through the downtown portion of Washington, D.C., as well.
This route is also known as the “loneliest route.” This nickname comes from the Nevada portion of the route. Expect to be greeted by miles of desolate farmland and desert.
Tips for Choosing a Route
There’s no single “right” route to take when driving across the U.S. Although some routes are shorter, you should also consider the weather that you’ll be driving in, the time of year that you’ll be taking your journey, and the specific states are along your route. Your travel budget is another consideration. Routes that take you through predominantly southern states tend to be cheaper than those that consist of northern states.