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Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

Brisbane, Australia
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Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

Hi all,

My Mum and I will be driving from San Diego to San Francisco in Mid-October. We are after some tips on which is the best Route to take. We will be doing the drive over two days, stopping along the way for the night.

Any suggestions on the where to stay or some hidden tourist gems along the way would be fantastic!

We would like to take a scenic route as we'll have some time to spare along the drive. I've heard it's roughly an 8-10hr drive? We would like to try avoid the LA traffic, would anyone suggest a route to try bypass this at all??

I'm looking forward to some feedback!!!

Santa Cruz...
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1. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

If you want the scenic route, which is Hwy 1 between Cambria and Carmel, you will need more than one overnight stop, especially coming from as far south as San Diego. Please go to the California forum and reead the Top Questions on the right side of the screen, which will give you much information on this drive, then come back with more specific questions.

Also, welcome to the forum. I notice this is your first message. Please edit your profile to tell us where you are from. It helps a lot when we answer your questions to have this information.

Edited: 11 June 2013, 04:21
Chula Vista...
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2. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

Hi Tanissa,

Welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately, there's just no easy way to avoid LA traffic and, just as unfortunately, there's just no way to predict how bad it will be.

You could take I-15 up through Riverside, over the Cajon Pass to Victorville, but traffic around Riverside can be just as bad as LA. Plus, you're going significantly out of your way which will only add time to your trip even if traffic is perfect.

Bottom line, you're just going to have to muscle your way across LA.

The trip up CA 1 between LA and San Francisco is best done in three days with overnight stops in Cambria and Monterey. It could be done in two.

CA Hwy 1 is a twisty, two-lane road with some of the best coastal scenery that you'll see anywhere, so it's worth slowing down to enjoy.

Also, once you commit to going on Hwy 1 north of Cambria, you're on it all the way to Carmel. (There's only one road in that 100 mile stretch that will take you over the coastal mountains back inland. It's extremely twisty and runs through a military installation that may close the road for military exercises, so there's no guarantee you'll get back to US Hwy 101.)

Sadly, if you must get from San Diego to San Francisco with only one overnight stop, I'm afraid the only real option would be to take I-5 all the way.

Zed

Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

And I-5 is the last thing from scenic. it is a fast freeway, mostly a truck route. There is no scenery and it is not fun, but boring, to drive. Its only purpose is to get people from "here to there".

Please try to put enough time in your schedule to make the Hwy 1 drive up through Big Sur. You should not miss this.

San Diego...
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4. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

There is absolutely an easy way to avoid LA traffic as I just did the drive last week. Its a bit of a jog, but we got up the coast fast and efficiently. Here is our itinerary.

Left San Diego at 7:30am

15 North

91 West (slight traffic for a few miles)

71 North

57

101 North

We stopped for breakfast 2 hours in to our drive in Encino and then continued on to Santa Barbara. We walked around the town, visited the pier, had lunch and continued on to Solvang.

Our overnight was at the Holiday Inn Express in Atascadero and it was an AMAZING hotel!

The next morning, we did about 3 hours North on the 101 to San Francisco. Never once did we hit traffic except when we merged on the 91 from the 15. We traveled on a Wednesday.

San Diego...
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5. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

I should add, on our way back, we stopped in Monterey, did 17 mile drive to Carmel and then took the 101 to the 5 South, to the 57, 71, 15, 91 and home.

Brisbane, Australia
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6. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

Thanks for all your responses!!

We will be travelling on a Sunday so hopefully the traffic won't be too bad.

This will be our first trip to America from Australia. We were just going to turn the GPS on and pray for the best but I know it would just take us the fastest route possible.

We want to do the bulk of the driving on the first day, and will be taking your advice on leaving early.

Definitely interested in driving the Big Sur as the views looks stunning! Just hope we can manage it in the two days!

NJ
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7. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

Wow this is helpful info MumFam! How was the scenery on the 101? And what time approx did you get to your overnight?

Grover Beach...
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8. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

Highway 101 isn't particularly scenic between Salinas and Paso Robles. There's some agricultural land, open fields for miles and miles and farm towns along that route. It also by-passes the scenic Big Sur coast.

Grover Beach...
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9. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

Hi Tanissa

I'm responding on your thread from your query on BrieBaby's.

I can't really help you with the San Diego to LA part of your journey, as I've never traveled that far south and I'm not familiar with the freeways, etc. until you get to Hollywood.

From the Hollywood area, you would want to find your way to Highway 101 and follow the freeway signage so that you stay on Highway 101. You would continue on Highway 101 up through Ventura, Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach and in to San Luis Obispo (This is if you don't follow Highway 1 or the PCH up through Santa Monica and Malibu).

Once you roll into San Luis Obispo, you'll want to look for the Highway 1/Morro Bay/Hearst Castle exit and follow the signs to get to Highway 1. You will be "in" San Luis Obispo at that point and you will make a right turn on to Santa Rosa Street, which is Business Highway 1. You'll drive through SLO a bit before hitting open roadway. Your first ocean view will be in Morro Bay and it's mostly all ocean view on Highway 1 from there. I also suggest you plan on overnighting in San Simeon or, even better, Cambria. Cambria is a pretty seaside town nestled among pine trees. As I mentioned on Brie's thread, staying in this area sets you up nicely for the slow, winding drive up through Big Sur.

While the SD to SF drive is best with at least 3 overnight stops, you can still see a good deal with a few well placed stops. You won't be able to see it all, but you'll have a pretty decent road trip up the coast.

Edited: 13 June 2013, 03:14
Brisbane, Australia
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10. Re: Driving San Diego to San Francisco October

You are a GEM! Thanks Kibblesmom... This has been extremely helpful, we'll be making a couple of stops along the way for food and quick pictures and to stretch our legs mainly. I'm getting a bit more excited about the trip now :)

I'm sure we can work out the San Diego to LA Leg MunFam was very helpful too..