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Drive from LA to San Francisco. Highlights and duration?

Drive from LA to San Francisco. Highlights and duration?

Old Oct 7th, 2002, 02:57 AM
  #1  
Sonia
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Drive from LA to San Francisco. Highlights and duration?

Hi All

As part of a round the world trip my boyfriend and I are planning to fly into LA and need to get to San Fran to visit a friend. We could fly, but I understand the highway between the two cities is pretty amazing. Can anyone advise me as to how long the drive would take, possible places to stop and what the weather will be like in Jan/Fab?

Many thanks

Sonia
 
Old Oct 7th, 2002, 07:59 AM
  #2  
J Correa
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Hi Sonia,

There are basically 3 different routes you can take from LA to SF.

The amazing hwy that you have probably heard about is Hwy 1 which is absolutely incredible. It goes right along the coast. Unfortunately you are going to be travelling during the winter when we have the most rain. Hwy 1 is only 2 lanes and generally closes in winter due to mud and rock slides. Even if it was open, I wouldn't drive it in a storm.

The 2nd route is Hwy 101, which is a freeway for the most part and is somewhat scenic - nothing compared to Hwy 1, but it's ok.

The 3rd route is Interstate 5, which is long, boring, and ugly. The average speed is something like 80-85 mph, so if you aren't used to driving those speeds, it can be really unnerving.
 
Old Oct 30th, 2002, 08:53 PM
  #3  
susanna
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101 will take you about 6hrs.
 
Old Oct 30th, 2002, 09:24 PM
  #4  
SSJ
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Hi Sonia

My husband and I just did this trip last week and it was incredible!

We flew into Los Angeles and then drove up Highway 1 to San Simeon, where we spent the night and visited Hearst Castle (one of the most memorable experiences of our trip). The drive took us about 5 hours (with brief stops along the way for lunch, stretching, etc). The next day, we drove from San Simeon to San Francisco -- also about 5 hours.

We returned to Los Angeles via Interstate 5. This time, the drive was about 6 hours and we did it in one trip (stopping only for gas and lunch).

On Highway 1 and 101 there were several small towns with motels and bed and breakfasts. There wasn't a lot on Interstate 5 -- it's pretty much a one-shot trip.

Good luck with your trip! You'll have a wonderful time!
 
Old Oct 30th, 2002, 09:27 PM
  #5  
David
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J Correa is right about Highway 1 in the winter, specifically the stretch around Big Sur. I would suggest taking the 101 then 156 west to Highway 1 south into Monterey. This stretch of Highway 1 is always open. In the Monterey area (www.monterey.com) I would recommend the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17 Mile Drive, and Fisherman's Wharf. The nearby town of Carmel (www.carmelbythesea.com) is very quaint with lots of cafes, galleries, and shops. From the Monterey and Carmel area you can take Highway 1 north to 17 north toward San Jose. On the way toward Santa Cruz on Highway 1, stop at Phil's in Moss Landing http://www.philsfishmarket.com/ The food there is great. Phil's is best known for its excellent clam chowder. Off of Highway 17 in the nearby town of Felton, you can take a steam train tour of the redwoods at Roaring Camp, weather permitting. (www.roaringcamp.com) In San Jose (www.sanjose.org) some of the key sites include the Tech Museum of Innovation (www.thetech.org) the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum (www.rosicrucian.org) and the Winchester Mystery House (www.winchestermysteryhouse.com) There are lots of great restaurants, especially downtown (www.sj-downtown.com) and www.sanpedrosquare.com) From the city I would suggest the scenic 280 freeway up to San Francisco.

Have a great trip.
 
Old Oct 30th, 2002, 10:18 PM
  #6  
joe
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Unfortunately the weather can be dull or rainy at this time of year. Definitely do not plan to leave L.A. too early as morning fog could ruin part of the lovely coastal drive.
 
Old Oct 31st, 2002, 10:26 AM
  #7  
xxx
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Don't bother wasting time in San Jose when you could spend the time in Carmel or San Francisco.
 
Old Nov 4th, 2002, 01:27 PM
  #8  
Sherry
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Hi, Sonia,

You've definitely heard about Highway 1, I am sure. If you are not averse to driving, I think it is definitely not that bad, even in the rain. However, I'm a native Californian, and we drive the road all the time, so it might be different for you. DEFINITELY worth it for the views. Stop in Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel. If you have time, Santa Barbara is also gorgeous, as is Hearst Castle in San Luis Obispo.

If you want a safer road, take Interstate 5. It is *NOT* ugly. Those of us whe are native Californians, particularly central or northern Californians (I grew up in Sacramento, and now live in SF), I-5 showcases a big part of what California is-- wide open spaces, and farm country. It's prettier in the summer, when the grasses turn gold and make for rolling golden hills, but it's nice nonetheless. It's definitely NOT exciting, but it is pretty.

Jan/Feb is off and on rain through most of the state. If you get lucky you could hit LA when the Santa Ana winds hit, bringing with them very warm weather (sometimes 80's) in the middle of the winter! I went to college in LA and will never forget the Santa Anas and sunbathing in January!
 
Old Nov 4th, 2002, 01:44 PM
  #9  
Really
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Sherry,

I must have missed something on the last earthquake. Hearst's Castle has always been in San Simeon, not San Louis Obispo. Probably about a 35-40 mile difference.

Regarding I-5, you are the only person I have ever heard of that thinks it is pretty. In the summer, it is uglier than any other time....baren hills, hot, absolutely nothing to see. I grew up in Coalinga......I know I-5, trust me.

I-5 can also be very dangereous because of fog. It has been the scene, at various places, of incredible wrecks. Visibility gets down to almost zero, then cars just start running into each other. It is also noted for dust storms in the Bakersfield area. Yes, Sherry, it is a pretty highway.

I also lived in Huntington Beach in Southern California. I also remembe the Santa Ana's. I remember finding very large rocks (read boulders) on my roof after a Santa Ana. They are especially nice when there is a fire and the winds move it right along, endangering half of the area.

Really
 
Old Nov 4th, 2002, 01:52 PM
  #10  
J Correa
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As a native Californian - born north of Sac, grew up in Ventura and Santa Cruz, now living in San Jose - I find nothing scenic about I-5. The only reason I ever drive it is to get from one place to the other in a minimum of time.
 
Old Nov 4th, 2002, 02:32 PM
  #11  
xxx
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How in the hell did you have boulders land on your roof in Santa Anas? The winds are strong, but that's an exageration to say the least!
 
Old Nov 4th, 2002, 06:05 PM
  #12  
Sherry
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To "Really":

You are right. Hearst is in San Simeon. We always stayed in SLO when we would visit it, though. It's the closest large town.

I'm not the only person I know who thinks I-5 is pretty. The "ugly, barren" hills are part of the California landscape-- they are golden and beautiful in the summer in my opinion. The fog can be nasty, but a little fog can also be pretty. I think, particularly to someone who has never seen the California landscape and doesn't want to be hugging the curves on Hwy 1 in the fog on the edge of a cliff plunging down to the ocean, it would make for nice scenery, and probably definitely unlike anything they had seen before. My husband and most people I know who grew up in central CA think that I-5 is pretty much the essence of that part of the state.

And, I'm sorry about the boulders on your roof, if that's true, but your story certainly smells like a rat to me. The Santa Anas can also spread fire, which can also be bad. That doesn't mean it can't make for fabulous weather in L.A. in the winter, which it does. Objectively.

I see no reason for your negativity in your post. Just because you disagree as to what is "scenic" does not mean you need to be so clearly rude. REALLY.

 
Old Nov 4th, 2002, 10:26 PM
  #13  
sandy
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Sherry thank you sharing your thoughts on the I-5. I live on the Monterey Bay so I always take 101 to LA but you are right about the beautiful golden hills. We are the Golden State after all. I do think a tourist might enjoy the coast route though.
My favorite stop on the way to LA is Santa Barbara. It is really beautiful.Do be prepared for rain though. We haven't had any rain yet but it will be here sooner or later.
 
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