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Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

Dublin, Ireland
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Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

Hi Guys,

I have the following road trip planned at the end of January.

I plan on leaving SF on a Friday morning (around 9am) and driving to LA along Highway 1 (Pacific Coast) - I'm estimating it would take about 9-10 hours to complete this drive with a few quick stops to grab some food/gas?

Hopefully I'll arrive in LA about 6 or 7pm where I'll spend the evening/night.

I plan to leave LA the following morning (Saturday) around 7-8am, do Mulholland Drive and then drive back to San Fran along Interstate 5 highway.

The Catch is I need to be back in SF before 6pm to drop off my rental car.

I know I'm cutting it tight but I am short for time as I fly back out on Sunday morning... I guess I just want to know that it's do-able?

Would love to hear of other peoples experiences that have done this trip and welcome any tips, suggestions for along the way!

Thanks

Washington State
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1. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

No, I don't think it is feasible.

How about driving to Monterey and enjoying a grove of Coastal Redwoods, marine mammals, the Aquarium, Point Lobos State Park, and a peek into Big Sur / Hwy 1 (the scenic bit)? Spend your one night in Monterey.

The Top Questions on the California state forum page has info about the Hwy 1 drive including suggested drive times (without weather delays.) Note that this page is just about the city of San Francisco.

You'll also want to check www.SunriseSunset.com for daylight hours.

California: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g28926-i29-Califor…

Edited: 30 December 2013, 16:17
San Francisco
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2. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

Agree. You could *possibly* get to Cambria on Highway 1 (with an earlier start). Then return the next day on Highway 101. But no way will you get all the way to LA on Highway 1 in a day and actually be able to see anything.

My question to you is ... why? Why spend 10 (or more) hours in the car with only stops for gas/food while driving one of the most scenic roads in the country? Waste of time and gas IMO.

Southern California
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3. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

No, waste of your time and you would not have time to see anything.

Dublin, Ireland
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4. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

Well, I am in no real hurry to get to LA.

My main reason for doing this trip is the scenic cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway in a car I'll enjoy driving (Mustang V8)

Seeing all of LA isn't the actual priority for me. I'd like to see the "Hollywood" sign and take an early morning cruise up Mulholland Drive and then head back towards SF. (which along interstate 5 should be easy to reach by 6pm I presume?)

Thanks for your replies.

Edited: 30 December 2013, 16:43
San Francisco...
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5. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

Is it possible to drive to LA and back in two days? Yes. Is it a good idea and will it be fun to do this? No I don't think so.

If you decide you still want to try this, I'd plan on leaving earlier than 9am the first day so you have some time to stop off some places along the way. I just don't really see the point of a scenic drive you can't enjoy because you're in a hurry.

The return trip in theory is 6 hours or so, but hitting traffic or problems can make it 7 or 8 hours and you'll want at least some small stops to stretch and eat.

This overnight trip sounds like not much fun to me. Why not visit someplace closer such as Santa Cruz or Monterey. Or if you really want to see LA you can often find inexpensive flights and spend a bit of time there instead of 16+ hours driving over a day and a half and not having time to see or do much but drive.

Edited: 30 December 2013, 16:48
San Francisco CA
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6. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

It's your holiday. Do what will be memorable for you. Besides the chance of rain, which would delay you, I too would advise that you leave the City earlier in the morning so that you can stop if you choose on the way to LA. Also check the moring commute traffic patterns in LA and leave accordingly so you don't get stuck. Have fun.

Grover Beach...
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7. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

It will get dark around 5pm, so you have to keep in mind that some part of Day 1 will have you rolling into LA well after dark. That 10 hour time frame for the drive is WITHOUT stops! None!! If you run into heavy Friday night commute traffic through the more populated areas, plan on a more realistic 11-14 hour drive!!

You need to leave SF by 6:00 am to make this work. Plan on being thoroughly exhausted by the time you roll into LA. That 90 mile drive along the Big Sur coast requires your rapt attention because of all the hairpin turns on elevated roadway with sheer drop offs hundreds of feet above the Pacific. Once down the Big Sur coast, you'll have another 5 hours of non-stop driving ahead of you.

Edited: 31 December 2013, 01:28
Dublin, Ireland
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8. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

Thanks for the replies.

I would love to be able to take more time but I'm afraid I only have those days at my disposal as I'm coming to SF for a work conference which lasts until Thursday evening and my flight back is Sunday morning.

I would love to leave San Fran earlier on Friday but I can only pick up my car at 8a.m.

Grover Beach...
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9. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

Understood.

Here's a time reference for this drive, leaving SF by 8:30 am (It will take time to finish the paperwork, etc.):

SF to Monterey: 8:30 to 11:30 via Highway 1 WITHOUT stops. You will have some traffic to get through, so may not arrive Monterey until noon or later.

Monterey to Cambria (Big Sur drive): 12:30 to 3:30

Cambria to Santa Barbara: 3:30 to 5:30

Santa Barbara to LA: 5:30 to 7:30 (You will likely hit Friday night commute traffic through Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, etc. May not arrive LA until 8 pm or later)

Dublin, Ireland
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10. Re: Road Trip (San Francisco > LA > San Francisco)

Thanks for the time reference Kibbles09, very useful to know.