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San Francisco to Los Angeles

Gibraltar, null...
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San Francisco to Los Angeles

What's the best way to travel between the two?

San Francisco
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1. Re: San Francisco to Los Angeles

Do you want to do it fast? Fly. There are all kinds of internal flights. Check Southwest or Virgin America airlines.

Do you want to see the coastline? Then rent a car and take three days.

A bit more info about you and your trip would help. It's hard to respond to a Twitter formatted posting.

Los Angeles
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2. Re: San Francisco to Los Angeles

There are many ways - each involves a compromise of cost, time, and what you'll see.

You can rent (hire) a car and drive yourself. As a foreigner, if you use a 3rd party booking site like www.rentalcars.com, even if you pick up the car in one city and drop it off in another city, they will not charge you a one-way drop fee.

There are 3 main driving routes:

a) the slowest, but most scenic, is to use Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway / PCH) north from LA. This route passes through a very scenic section of coast called Big Sur, which is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. However, its 10-12 hours total driving time without stops and really needs at least one overnight stopover along the way, but preferably 2-3 or more. This drive is covered extensively in the top questions which you will see on the right hand side of this page if you are on a PC (may not show up on smart phone or tablet).

b) the compromise route is Highway 101, which is the same road as Highway 1 for part of the way, but goes inland and while not dull and boring, is also not as scenic, but this drive can be done more easily in one (long) day.

c) the fastest route is to use Interstate 5 - this route the drive can be done in 6 hours or so, but the majority of the drive is through the flat, seemingly endless farmland of California's central valley and so is, for the most part, dull and boring.

Note that, generally, one does not want to have a car in San Francisco, so it would be good to drop off your rental when you arrive. San Francisco is a compact city with excellent public transportation, so a car is not necessary there, and on the flip side parking in San Francisco is quite expensive, which makes it worth not having a car while there.

Of course, you can also fly. Check www.southwest.com or www.kayak.com for inexpensive flights. The flight time is a little bit over an hour (usually around 70 minutes), but you also have to consider transportation to/from the airport, going through security, etc. which adds time. The main airport in LA is LAX, but we also have smaller airports that have direct flights to the airports in San Francisco - these smaller airports are quicker to get through security etc. Burbank is one of these (BUR), which is closer to Hollywood and West Hollywood than LAX is, for instance. The others are LGB, SNA and ONT. Likewise, in San Francisco, SFO is the main, large airport, but a smaller alternative is OAK which is across the bay from San Francisco itself. There's also SJC though that's quite a ways outside of San Francisco.

You can also go via train using Amtrak - www.amtrak.com - the Amtrak train goes from Union Station in downtown LA to Oakland, but if you book your ticket to one of the "stations" in San Francisco, Amtrak will bus you from Oakland to San Francisco. Unfortunately while some sections of the train route are on the coast, it heads inland before it reaches the really scenic sections in Big Sur so its not as scenic as driving the highway 1 route yourself. The train takes something like 12 hours.

Finally, you can go via bus - try companies like www.megabus.com - these generally take longer than driving on your own, but are probably the least expensive way to go. They usually go via I-5 or 101 so not the scenic route.

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Gibraltar, null...
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3. Re: San Francisco to Los Angeles

Thanks, was really helpful!

I don't have any specifics, as I'm looking at different ways to do it. Just after people's personal opinions!

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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4. Re: San Francisco to Los Angeles

If one has the time, Highway 1 is the "best" way to go.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
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5. Re: San Francisco to Los Angeles

How about this driving route?

SF - Yosemite Valley (in via Hwy 120 or 140 and out via Hwy 41, 2 nights) - Monterey - Cambria - {lunch in Santa Barbara to} L.A.

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6. Re: San Francisco to Los Angeles

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