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Staying in San Diego. Want to drive PCH

Madison, Wisconsin
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Staying in San Diego. Want to drive PCH

Husband and I are visiting San Diego Memorial Day weekend. Renting a car. Would like to take a day trip driving PCH. Realistically, how far north could we make it. We will leave very early am. Could we get past LA? Will probably want to make a few stops but mostly want to drive, see scenery, and be able to say we did it. (On bucket list!). Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you from Wisconsin.

San Francisco...
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1. Re: Staying in San Diego. Want to drive PCH

Other than Fourth of July weekend its probably the worst weekend traffic wise along the coast. With no traffic on the Freeway Malibu the North end of LA County Beaches is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from San Diego, so taking the coastal route at least double that. So I guess the question is how long do you want to drive and how many stops along the way will you make. Leaving early will help in the morning but by mid morning it will start to get congested. Since I assume you will drive back after you make it as far as you want to go, Id strongly advise against doing this drive on Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Even if you come back on the Freeway expect probably 5 hours from Malibu if you were to eave at 3pm.

San Diego...
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2. Re: Staying in San Diego. Want to drive PCH

Are you coming back to San Diego after you make the drive? I agree with GoodBeer that weekend is going to be a bear traffic wise along the coast. So be prepared for slow going and not necessarily relaxing. And where you do stop will be wherever you will be able to find a place to park. Leaving early is a good idea but understand that many, many people will be going to the beach early so that they can get a good parking spot.

If you are driving up the coast and coming back to SD I'd probably not go any further than Newport Beach or Huntington Beach. And they are still about an hour (probably much longer on that weekend) south of LA. But, in theory, yes, you can drive as far as you want for as long as you want.

At Oceanside you have to get on the 5 Fwy because of Camp Pendleton. You can get back on the coast drive at San Clemente.

Los Angeles
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3. Re: Staying in San Diego. Want to drive PCH

I tried to do this once. Didn't start on PCH quite at San Diego (thank god) but just about at Oceanside or somewhere and it was stoplights and gridlock for...I don't know how long. It took waaay longer than twice the time it would take on the 405 or 5 or whatever the regular roads are.

Now, there were some boating towns with restaurants and lots of houses. Finally, just before Long Beach (before the oil rigs and more houses and huge urban sprawl) there is a stretch of..long beach. Marshy, wetlands with real birds and a campground - it's maybe 10 miles long (or maybe it just seemed like a giant oasis at that point, as there were no stop lights).

PCH from Long Beach through Santa Monica (through the heart of LAX, to be exact), with the planes flying overhead (and is that juice stand shaped like an orange still there? - I *know* there's that famous blue and red carwash somewhere along that stretch). Finally, you reach Santa Monica and it gets pretty. Pretty and prettier.

Malibu is stunning. Mugu Rock will make you think (if you use your imagination and ignore the cold water and the fact that you can't go in the water for any reason as it is *not* a swimmable beach) of Hawaii. On the way back, it's hard to resist stopping at some Malibu area beach, they are each different and if you like mansions, there's that. But I'd say it's a good 6 hours in weekend traffic if you try and take as much of 1 as is available. To Mugu Rock, just north of L.A. You could then say you'd truly been "north of LA" as LA County ends just before the Rock. See for yourself - it's beautiful and tantalizing, and like all sights in LA - somewhat elusive and dependent on traffic:


Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Staying in San Diego. Want to drive PCH

While I understand why you want to do this, I imagine it will be bumper-to-bumper in all of the towns and not much better elsewhere. Not relaxing at all.

So Cal
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5. Re: Staying in San Diego. Want to drive PCH

I have to wonder which part of Highway 1 is on your bucket list. The central coast is where it really gets spectacular, but of course that's impossible in your timeframe.

6. Re: Staying in San Diego. Want to drive PCH

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