Los Angeles-San Francisco-Los Angeles

Old Mar 16th, 2004, 11:04 AM
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Los Angeles-San Francisco-Los Angeles

Hi,
we have originally planned to drive from LA to SF stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery and explore the area, move to Yosemite for a day and drive back to LA. I realized reading all the posts here that 6 days is not enough for such a trip. We do need to get back to LA for our flight home. We will, alas, skip the Yosemite NP this time.

On the 6th day we will have to drive back from SF to LA. Are there any good tricks on how to do it fast?

Any other good suggestions on how to plan this trip are welcome.
thanks
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 12:02 PM
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The fastest way to get from SF to LA is to get over to I5 and head all the way down. It's not scenic, but it's fast.

If you have a little more time, you might consider Hwy 101 instead. It's more scenic, but it a freeway so you can go fast.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 12:44 PM
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I5 is absolutely the fastest way. If you look at a map, you will think you are going out of the way, but anyone will tell you it's actually much quicker.

If you do take 101, here is a tip we just used and were very pleased with. Instead of taking 101 out of SF, get on 280 South. Then take 85 to avoid the San Jose megaplex and attendant traffic. You'll connect back up with 101 South and save yourself a bit of time.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 01:14 PM
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It's true that I-5 is faster (around 2-3 hours) than US 101, although that difference can be consumed in morning traffic leaving the Bay Area and/or afternoon traffic entering LA. Same goes for 101; however, if you don't need to fly out that night or early the next day, you could overnight in Santa Barbara using 101, then continue to the airport the next morning (hopefully avoiding the morning rush hour on 101 and I-405.) There are no such "bailout" possibilities on I-5; just trucks and more trucks.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 01:24 PM
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Another vote for I-5, it's faster by several hours, and twice as fast as taking PCH 1.

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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 02:40 PM
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Most people I know who drive I-5 leave very early in the morning in order to avoid the commute traffic or late at night--it is the fastest route.
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Old Mar 18th, 2004, 08:03 AM
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Fantastic! Thank you very much. We need to be in LA around 10:00 pm so it seems that we have plenty of time to drive back. We would probably want to make a stop for a break. Is there a good place between SF and LA along I5 and/or 101?
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Old Mar 18th, 2004, 08:57 AM
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Stops on I5 between SF and LA are basically truck stops.

There are LOTS of appealing stops on 101, depending on what takes your fancy. One of my favorites is the Madonna Inn, one of the world's great testaments to what happens when unlimited funding meets unlimited bad taste.
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Old Mar 18th, 2004, 09:26 AM
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There are all the usual fast food places along I-5. However, for a nice lunch (restaurant/gift shop) there is the Harris Ranch, near Coalinga. www.harrisranch.com

Have you considered driving the fast route to SF, and taking the leisurely route back to LA? Just a thought.
 
Old Mar 18th, 2004, 10:48 AM
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We haven't really. What's the advantage of doing it that way?
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Old Mar 18th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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With the fast route I-5 to the north, you'd have that boring drive behind you. To me, that would be an advantage.

After SF, Monterey, etc., the drive along the Pacific coast is beautiful. (Some prefer to drive it going north, and being on the inside.) Heading south, however, you have great views and the turnouts are on the right and easy to pull in and back out on the road again.

It just seems less stressful not to be a long distance/hitting all the LA traffic on the afternoon of your departure. If you're having a great time, and your time becomes limited, you could have the option of cutting some of your planned attractions in LA.

If that's the case, you could stay in Santa Barbara on the last night, next morning to the Getty Center for a couple of hours/lunch (or wherever), and then a nice dinner someplace along the beach. By that time, you will have used up day 6.

 
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