How hard are these to get as a tourist? I have an SSN from when I briefly worked there a long time ago if it helps.
For both, driver’s license and non driver’s license id, you have to go through the 6-points-of-identification process. For further details se hear https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/license/docselector/index.htm. If you can get it together then you shouldn’t have a problem. But this is such an assumption.
That looks helpful and should definitely be possible. Do other states have the same system?
Each US state handle it slightly different. Just look it up on the internet for the state you want to have the ID from. Also, there is currently a roll out of new so called Real ID cards. You need them if you want to fly domestic without a passport. For further info look here. https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs
It should work in California as well—I did the same several years ago.
Note that the ID card will only be valid for as long as your current I-94 permits you to stay in the US on the current entry (typically 90 days from when you entered the US if you enter on an ESTA, possibly up to 180 days if you have a business visa). I assume this is the same across all states, but I could be wrong.
I’d recommend booking a DMV appointment several months in advance of your visit (depending on the location they are often fully booked for weeks or months into the future). You can of course show up without an appointment, but be prepared to spend most of your day standing in line.
They told me that it would take several weeks at least to get the ID card, but I got it in less than a week (IIRC).
Just had a look for Michigan and it seems if you enter on ESTA for 90 days, your state ID will only be valid for 90 days: https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1627_8668_53359_53361-213197--,00.html
Guess I should look to try in other states then?
I think that will be the case in all states.