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Driving from LA to SF

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Melbourne, Australia
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Driving from LA to SF

Hi, we are planning on driving from LA to SF on Sunday 2nd Feb 2014 we will be leaving from Hollywood. We are thinking about heading out Hwy 101 then down Route 27 (Topanga Canyon Blvd) to Highway 1 and then up the coast to Monterey. We are expecting this drive to take approximately 7 hours but would like to know what the best time would be for leaving LA. I am not sure what sort of morning traffic to expect on Hwy 101. Initially we were thinking to leave at about 8.00am. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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1. Re: Driving from LA to SF

Humm that is a very long drive if you are planning to do the coastal route

Carmel/Monterey (they are next door) to Big Sur Village -- 1 hour

Big Sur Village to Cambria -- 2 hours. Hearst Castle in San Simeon is about 15 minutes North of Cambria

Cambria to San Luis Obispo - 1 hour

SLO to Santa Barbara -- 1.5 hours

Santa Barbara to Santa Monica -- Around 2 hours (take 1 to Malibu and Santa Monica)

Now this is all without stops so if you plan to see more , then you are going to have a long day . Traffic at 7 or 8 is the least of your issue on a Sunday

You can check the feb sunset timing and unlike Summer where it gets dark after 8-9pm, that won't be the case

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2. Re: Driving from LA to SF

I think 7 hours for this coastal drive is a bit optimistic, even if absolutely no stop in between (which is kind of impossible). I know Google Map gives a distance of 333 miles, and 6 hours 15 minutes. This is averaging about 55 miles per hour. This average speed maybe impossible along the coastal route. It is windy with many turns for a stretch of 50 miles or so. (No passing lane). Once you are stuck behind a camper at 25-30 mph... good luck.

If you leave from Hollywood, why use Topanga Canyon Blvd from 101 to 1? You are back-tracking southward while you should be heading north. If you want a shorter trip, skip the coastal drive from Santa Monica to Oxnard. If you want to include that coastal drive, I think it is more efficient to drive to and start from Santa Monica via 405.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Driving from LA to SF

Blimey, same as HappyFeet said. Why do you want to drive Topanga Canyon Blv first? That will be a major and timeconsuming detour. No way to get from Hollywood to Monterey in 7 hours diving this way.

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4. Re: Driving from LA to SF

Monterey isn't a logical midway stop between LA and SF. Nor is 7 hours a realistic drive time unless you make NO stops whatsoever. There is simply too much to see/do in between LA and Monterey. If you're doing a straight shot drive, be sure to have food with you that you can nibble on en route and to gas up in San Luis Obispo before setting out on the Highway 1 part of the drive. Gas along the Big Sur coast is far and few between and much more pricy.

Edited: 23 November 2013, 13:19
San Francisco...
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5. Re: Driving from LA to SF

Welcome to TA Kibbles09

Uden, The...
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6. Re: Driving from LA to SF

Yes, we are loosing our "moms" ;-) First Riff, now Kibbles

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7. Re: Driving from LA to SF

Cambria is a more logical stopping point to spend the night, as its a bit closer to the half way point between LA and SF. If you head to Cambria and stop there, then the next morning you can start early for the long drive to Big Sur and take your time stopping along the way to admire the scenery, which you'll want to do. This is how I would approach it, unless you need to arrive in San Francisco early on day 2.

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8. Re: Driving from LA to SF

>> If you want to include that coastal drive, I think it is more efficient to drive to and start from Santa Monica via 405. <<

In reply #2, sorry I meant to drive to Santa Monic via I-10 freeway.

Los Angeles
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9. Re: Driving from LA to SF

I agree with the general advice from the other posters. Traffic won't be an issue leaving LA unless it get close to noon, but it could be an issue arriving in SF since locals will be returning from the weekend. Hwy 1 through Malibu is nice, but IMO not worth the extra time. I would take the 101 all the way to San Luis Obisbo and then go up the 1. That will be a spectacular drive. Between Cambria and Monterey there are not a lot of options for food or gas. Google puts this trip at 437 miles and 8 hours 20 minutes. That is probably a pretty accurate estimate since most of Hwy 1 will be about 50 miles an hour. On the 101 you should be to average close to 70 mph. If you leave at 7:00am, and minimize stops you can make it to SF before it gets dark around 6:00pm.

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: Driving from LA to SF

Thanks for all your replies. We are taking 2 days to drive from LA to SF and the reason that we have chosen Monterey to stop is so that we can make the 2nd day driving a little shorter as we have an Alcatraz night tour booked for 3.50pm. We are also going to stop and the Henry Cowell redwoods on our way from Monterey to SF. We were only driving down Topango Canyon as a scenic drive but I have managed to find some time in our 5 days in LA and have decided to do a drive through the canyons to Malibu and back along the coast road coming back into LA via West Sunset Blvd. This will eliminate the need to drive that way when heading up the coast. So we will probably just go the 101 all the way to San Luis Obispo. I have checked out the sunset for that time of year and we would be looking at about 5.20ish. My timing was based on Google Maps and at present it is saying approx 6 hours taking the more direct route. So assuming we leave LA about 7.30ish this should give us 10 hours of daylight driving time. Will we run into traffic problems on a Sunday morning about 7.30ish??