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-   -   Seattle to LA area, driving straight thru... (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/seattle-to-la-area-driving-straight-thru-880102/)

ryspahr Mar 1st, 2011 07:18 PM

Seattle to LA area, driving straight thru...
 
Hi there, just wondering if there is anywhere place along the way down I-5 from Seattle to Los Angeles my girlfriend and I should stop.

We are going on a 10 day roadtrip, but have to go basically directly from Seattle to LA on Friday March 18th in order to be able to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain on Sunday the 20th (they aren't open during the week unfortunately).

I figure we've got a 20hr drive or so ahead of us to get there by Saturday evening, just wondering if anyone would recommend a quick little jaunt off I-5 to a must see/eat experience. We were thinking of hitting a brewery to eat dinner in Portland (no beers for me as I'm driving... I'll get a growler to go)... Any suggestions?

As for the rest of the trip, we'll hit Disney/Cal Adventure for 2 days, SD for a day, 2 days in SF... I've been to SF 5 times now and have seen Alacatraz every time (and loved it). Have also done Lombard street, Coit Tower, the experience musuem (can't remember the exact name, near Golden Gate park I think).

Any and all help/suggestions are appreciated!
Ryan

janisj Mar 1st, 2011 08:00 PM

OMG -- do not attempt this in one go! And w/ just one driver no less. It will be more than 20 hours. That is the absolute bare minimum w/o ANY stops for food, rest/stretch. You are talking 24 hours minimum and likely more because you will probably run into traffic <i>somewhere</i>.

Plus - what if there is snow in Oregon/northern CA?

ryspahr Mar 1st, 2011 08:10 PM

My girlfriend will drive some as well, so that's not so bad.

The problem is if we want to go to Six Flags we basically HAVE to drive straight thru... They are only open on Sat/Sun and we are leaving Seattle at 2 or 3pm on Friday.

janisj Mar 1st, 2011 08:18 PM

The fact that you want to do Six Flags doesn't change anything. It is still more than 20 hours. The 'mapping' sites say 20-ish hours. That is in gear and in motion. That does not include ANY stops or any traffic or any bad weather.

And if chains are required on I-5 -all bets are off.

happytrailstoyou Mar 1st, 2011 08:25 PM

The only thing that comes to mind is Old Town in Sacramento, which is right off I-5: http://www.oldsacramento.com

There you will find loads of restaurants and bars, such as these:
http://www.oldsacramento.com/
http://www.fannyanns.com/

Have a great time.

HTTY

tomfuller Mar 1st, 2011 08:26 PM

If there is any snow falling south of Medford you will not make it. If the weather is good I would recommend the Black Bear Diner not far off the Willows Exit (603).
If you are looking for a late night place to eat, try the Denny's not far from Old Town Sacramento (open 24 hours).
Be careful with the sweeping turns near Lake Shastina especially if the temp is close to 32.
Plan on at least 7 hours drive after leaving Sacramento.

janisj Mar 1st, 2011 08:51 PM

Old Sac? If they start at 2 PM in Seattle, and drive straight through, and the road is clear, they will get to Sacramento around 3:30 or 4:00AM - not much open in Old Sac at that time of day ;)

tomfuller Mar 1st, 2011 09:24 PM

Only restaurant open all night. It's at 925 3rd St. Left off J Street east of I-5. You are right about Old Sac, there was 3 inches of snow there very recently.
Not the best Denny's by a long shot but OK to sit for awhile and get some caffiene.
If you want to eat earlier, you could stop at the Golden Corral in the south end of Medford, Oregon.

janisj Mar 1st, 2011 09:37 PM

"<i>You are right about Old Sac, there was 3 inches of snow there very recently.</i>"

What the heck are you talking about?

ryspahr Mar 1st, 2011 09:41 PM

Ahh, you people are freaking me out! I hadn't even thought about snow, arrggghhhh!!!

Ok, thanks for the recommendations, especially the Black Bear Diner I've actually eaten there on a previous roadtrip to Palm Springs!

janisj Mar 1st, 2011 09:46 PM

There are about 8 or 9 Big Bears in towns all the way down I-5. Yreka, Mt Shasta and lots of others and even down into the San Joaquin Valley.

"<i> I hadn't even thought about snow, arrggghhhh!!!</i>"

You do have to worry about snow in Oregon and very northern CA (and over the Grapevine in SoCal) But you do NOT have to worry about snow in Old Sac.

BTW - if it snows in the Tehachapis -- they don't use chains - they close the road . . .

bbqboy Mar 1st, 2011 10:01 PM

? If there's a golden corral here it is news to me.
That said, if you leave Seattle at 2:00 pm, you'll run right into rush hour traffic in Portland.Add at least 1 hour.
You could stop in Albany for dinner at Novak's.
http://www.novakshungarian.com/
I'd strongly consider spending the night in the Rogue Valley
and rising early the next morning.
If you choose to ignore, the Petco truck stop in Phoenix
(E. side at exit 24)is open 24 hours. {big)
Wild Goose in Ashland
http://www.wildgoosecafe.com/
at the south exit serves til late.
or you could head into DT Ashland and actually enjoy yourselves.
Driving through the mountains from Ashland to Redding is
much more enjoyable during the day, and the drive from the Oregon border to LA is actually feasible in one day.

Surfergirl Mar 1st, 2011 10:52 PM

Fly and rent a car. With current gas prices, you'll not only save $$$, but about 40 hours roundtrip for the 1k miles each way that you will never, ever get back; you'll save the complete flattening of each of your butts, and you'll save your relationship. Because 24 hours on the road when you're crabby and tired can ruin even the most sympatico of relationships.

tomfuller Mar 1st, 2011 11:08 PM

bbqboy you are right-it is not a Golden Corral. I was thinking of the Hometown Buffet close to the Rogue Valley Mall. My DW and I ate there on the way home since we could not come up US97 from Weed.
The gas station next door (Fred Myers) is a good place to fill up before going into California.

POlson Mar 2nd, 2011 07:04 AM

I second the idea of flying, but understand the appeal of a road trip. Lots of time for talks.

My sister does the long haul straight through a couple times a year. She just puts in a book on tape and goes. Says she finds it relaxing.

Don't know what time of year it strikes but be mindful of Tully (sp?) fog in the early hours around Sacramento. We had a scary experience one year just missing a major pileup in the fog.

As for food, I think she just stops along the way when she is hungry or needs some coffee. She also takes a little cooler with fruit and a few treats (red vines etc). Lots of water.

Gardyloo Mar 2nd, 2011 08:02 AM

Leaving Seattle around 2, I'd shoot for Medford Friday night - around 7-8 hours. Don't try driving over the Siskiyous at night.

The next day you only have to go as far as the southern half of the San Joaquin valley - if your aim is to get to Six Flags by opening time (10:30) Sunday you could stay in the valley and just shoot over the Grapevine the next morning - Six Flags is well to the north of the main LA traffic zone, and coming down I-5 on a Sunday morning you'll have no trouble being first in line if you leave a hotel around 7 or 8 AM. You might look at one of the wide spots on the freeway near Kettleman City, or around Bakersfield for lodgings. From Medford/Ashland it will be a horrendously boring day, but it is what it is. You might try Old Town Sacramento for a late lunch before joining the truckers on the I-5 racetrack south of Modesto.

suze Mar 2nd, 2011 04:06 PM

Maybe I'm missing something, but why don't you leave Seattle a little earlier?

I don't think you are allowing enough time for the drive. Even if you don't hit snow.

sheri_lp Mar 2nd, 2011 07:07 PM

You know there's a Six Flags in Vallejo?

NorthwestMale Mar 7th, 2011 05:50 PM

I say that if you can't make it out of town by 2pm on a FRIDAY, you might as well delay your departure until 7pm or later.

If you haul a** then Sacramento is somewhere near to 12 hours of DRIVING time (not allowing for gas and restaurant stops)

Maybe you can push yourselves on that Friday night... (much less traffic late)... and then get such a good jump that you can stay in a hotel somewhere for Saturday night and get to your hoped-for destination fairly freshened on Sunday.

Don't alter your path YET with regard to possible snow, just deal with it IF it becomes a factor, and be prepared to maybe encounter it in Southern Oregon or Northern California and STOP for the night if indeed it is there.

I hope you make it... but doing so isn't worth taking chances with your lives in terms of driving while tired.

If you start driving @ 7pm Friday... and you yourself drive for 4-ish hours, and then let your GF drive for 2 or 3, you may be somewhat refreshed enough to take the wheel again after that.


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