Traveling from Central Illinois to California

Chelsey Brandon

Earning My Ears
Dec 3, 2018
Hey guys! This is my first ever forum, so sorry if I mess things up! For my 25th birthday, we are wanting to drive from Central Illinois to California! I haven't done a ton of research yet, but found this and figured it's best to hear from actual people. We won't be going until March of 2020, around the 16th, which is my birthday. I've been to Cali once, and went to Long Beach, Hollywood, and Anaheim. We went to Disneyland (AMAZING), and did the walk of fame. I have found at least one place I definitely want to go, and it is Safari West. They are in Santa Rosa, so need to plan to go that way for part of the trip! Any and all advice is welcome!! :)
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It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
Apr 20, 2007

I don't have any advice for a trip that's 16 months away but thought I'd just say hey. Should be a fun drive - I love road trips. How many days from home to home are you planning?


Earning My Ears
Jun 14, 2018
I went to safari west a few years ago. I got a Groupon for it but honestly I don’t know if I would pay full price for it. It’s mostly the antelope type grazing animals and most of them stayed away from the safari trucks so I couldn’t see them up close. I think there are better safari type experiences out there. San Diego zoo is on the top of my mind.

If you do go call ahead of time to make sure safari west wasn’t affected by the Santa Rosa fires last year. Sonoma and Napa wine country is close to Santa Rosa so you might wanna check it out. That would be worth it.

Hope this helps.


DIS Veteran
Aug 29, 2013
We did Safari West and had a great time but it’s going to be really far if you want to do anything in southern CA. You might want to consider the San Diego Zoo and their separate Safari Park. Both are great and will have a lot more to see and do.


Jan 12, 2016
StageTek asked the most important question-how many days are you planning. Just driving alone you’ll need a minimum of six days (each with about 10-11 hours of drive time). I’d plan eight days to enjoy the sites in between Illinios and Cali. If you want to go to Santa Rosa I’d take I80 out and make stops in Salt Lake City and possibly Reno. I’d spend threeish days in the Bay Area and enjoy Santa Rosa, San Fran, Napa, etc. I’d then take a day or two and cruise down the coast stopping in Monterey for some time. I’d head to the LA/Orange County Area for a few days and then visit DL for 2-3 days. I’d head to San Diego for a day or two. On the way home I’d look to do Vegas, Zion NP, Moab and the Colorado Mountains or I’d do Sadona and the Grand Caynon with a stop in Santa Fe NM. Could do a good trip in 12 days and a kick *** trip in 18-21 days. Any which way enjoy the road and a happy 25th in 2020.


Minty fresh happy haunts
Aug 19, 2017
I'll throw this idea out there in case there's a time crunch: I would personally fly to San Francisco and rent a car, and drive the following itinerary:

1) San Francisco/Bay Area -- The City, wine country, go to a Giants or Warriors game, go hiking in Muir Woods, take the ferry around, etc...
2) Drive down Highway 1/Highway 101 along the coast
3) Stop in Monterey, Big Sur (Bixby Bridge, et al), and San Luis Obispo (visit Hearst Castle)
4) Stop in Santa Barbara
5) Enter Los Angeles County and visit Malibu, Hollywood, et al. (Studio tours! WB, Universal if you're so inclined, etc...)
6) Scoot down to Anaheim (Disneyland of course)
7) Scoot down to San Diego
8) Drive to Las Vegas (5hrs from San Diego, more if it's over a weekend).
9) Drive back to Illinois

Your main cost would be a one-way car rental, but upside is you wouldn't be piling so many miles onto your car, and you'd have more time to spend in each of the above cities. Taking the coastal route is a MUST.... when it's late afternoon and the fog starts to roll in, and you're driving through Big Sur on that quiet coast highway, it's truly magical. #3 would be the highlight of my trip (I bolded it above, haha)


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