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Thread: Driving from LA to San Francisco

  1. #1
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    Default Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Hi,

    Would like open up a discussion on driving from LA to San Francisco in December.

    1) How will the road condition be like? Icy? Fog? etc

    2) What would be the best route to take, in terms of scenery, winding and twisting roads, driving hours etc

    I do not think that I am going to reach Frisco on the same day, do not want to rush, as safety is paramount. Where would be a good place to stop for a night along the way?

    Thanks alot


  2. #2

    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    You can try to have a stopover at Montrey Bay area.. Area has many nice places to go and sight see as well
    Sorry, cant give you tips on Driving in Dec

  3. #3

    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Definately no problem driving in Dec. Weather is cool! Not cold!
    Best route? Really depends on what you want. For straight and easy, take highway 5. For winding roads, take 101.
    Remember that Google maps is your friend.
    Last edited by Madmax; 25th October 2010 at 11:16 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Quote Originally Posted by eng60232 View Post
    You can try to have a stopover at Montrey Bay area.. Area has many nice places to go and sight see as well
    Sorry, cant give you tips on Driving in Dec
    +1.

    Take Highway 1, drive along the coast, very scenic. Stop over / put a night at Monterey Bay. We just love that place, must try the Old fishermansgrotto Clam Chowder. You should be okay, no icy roads but becareful as the road is winding especially the uphill/downhill stretch -- dont' go off the cliff . I kid you not.

    If you have time, visit the Hearst Castle at San Simeon. There are also many areas (Vista) where you can pull over and take pics (mentioned earlier, very scenic) or pull over and let the cars behind you through.

    Have fun and enjoy your drive !

    CP

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    For most of us who wants to get between the two in the shortest time:

    Hwy 101 southbound, Hwy 152 East, Interstate-5 South. Shouldn't take you more than 6 hours with no jams. I've done it in 5.

    Stuff to see along the way this route:

    - Basically all the cities. Famous Silicon Valley in the mountain view/sunnyvale/san jose/santa clara area. Visit Cisco systems, Intel, ebay... blah blah blah...
    - Gilroy factory outlets at Gilroy area, along 101 at Leavesley road exit. One of the BIGGEST factory outlet malls in USA. You can literally spend an entire day there shopping.
    - Casa De Fruita makes for a good stop for a meal along 152 East, and some grocery or wine shopping. Not too interesting to most of us.
    - 152 East is also called Pacheco Pass. Quite windy, but in dec, all you see is brown.
    - DO NOT SPEED on 152 East, as this is where Hwy Patrol will hide and catch you with a speed trap. They will take you down even if you are 6 mph over the limit.
    - Once you hit I-5, it is straight all the way. Make sure you have lots of coffee and music blasting, because the drive gets real boring and you can get real sleepy. Fuel (called Gas in USA) comes in 30 to 40 mile intervals, so remember to fill up if it gets low, and not try to be hero and push it somemore.
    Last edited by daredevil123; 26th October 2010 at 08:29 AM.

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    For the real scenic route:

    Take Hwy 1 all the way from SF to LA:

    The scenery will be breath taking! You will NEVER regret this route. But it is generally very slow, and some parts are 1 lane roads. So if you get stuck behind a truck, good luck.

    If this is your virgin trip, I strongly suggest you take this route. Take many stops along the way. Stop at Vista points.

    Main attractions along the way:
    - Half moon bay is awesome. If you want you can spend a night here, and book yourself a king salmon fishing trip. at the fisherman's wharf. Cost 60 per pax during my time (7-8 years back). You can also go for rock cod fishing. Or just hang out at the wharves, and buy live seafood off the fishing boats, or stores. Half moon bay is also home to some of the tallest waves in North Ameraica. In rough weather, you can see waves as high as 30 feet hitting the high cliffs. Extreme surfers will congregate there often.
    - Santa Cruz. The famous beach life city. Everything here is about the beach. There is a theme park along the beach called Santa Cruz broadwalk. Santa Cruz fisherman's wharf is also fun, with tons of seafood restaurants. I usually walk to the end and eat the clam chowder at this small little hut at the end. Relaxing and beautiful. Watch out for seagulls taking a dump on you though. Also home to tons of surfers and beach volleyball folks.
    - Monterey. This is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in California. It is also home of the famous 17-mile drive, a 17-mile coastal drive with AMAZING scenery. 17m drive is also home to the Pebble Beach golf links (6 month waiting list I think). You need to pay a fee (less than US$20 per car) to the park ranger if you want to drive into the 17-mile drive. I strongly recommend it. Fisherman's wharf at Monterey downtown is also fun. I personally love the food at a smaller restaurant named Calisto's (if I remember the name right). Used to be my regular dinner joint if I am there. you are in seafood town there, order raw oysters, grilled salmon, halibut... go to town with seafood. Hotels are a plenty there but is quite expensive compared to Santa Cruz. But it is a lot safer than Santa Cruz (which is full of surfer dudes on weed).
    - Carmel. Right beside Monterey is this small little town call CARMEL. You HAVE TO go there. Clint Eastwood was mayor there (not sure if he still is). Beautiful quaint little town. Very expensive town, with branded goods, expensive shopping, expensive fine (but very good) dinning, and a totally WONDERFUL beach. It is also where Hole 18 of Pebble Beach golf course is. If PGA is going on there, you can see the grandstands set up near the beach and maybe catch a glimpse of Tiger woods (maybe you don't want to see Tiger anymore.). I strongly recommend you walk the town, and the beach.

    From Monterey, You can either continue on on Hwy 1 until it merges with Hwy 101, then follow 101 into LA.
    OR from monterey, if you still want to hit Gilroy outlets, you can take 156 East, hit 101 and go 101 North, Exit at Leavesley Road to Gilroy Factory outlets.

    After the outlets, you can take 101 South to 152 East to I-5 south to LA.

    Whichever route you take, remember to map it out on Goggle maps. It helps a lot to have a GPS with you, either on your phone, or a dedicated GPS. Most rental companies comes with cars with GPS for a additional minimal charge. And please buy a California map. The one we all use is Thomas brothers (this one).

    Just some of the stuff I picked up in my 12 years in the region.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Coming from someone who lived in CA for a year..

    Take Hwy 1 to SF, way better than the other highways, but slower. Speed limit is 50mph at most.. and in winter beware of slippery roads. stock up on food, drinks, music etc. as the 5 to 7hrs journey might not have that many places to stop over at, especially in the Big Sur area.. Drive CAREFULLY because there's alot of construction going on in the roads through Big Sur.

    Good places to stop -

    Santa Barbara - nice, chill city - used to live here

    Solvang - It's a danish village in the Santa Ynez mountains which you will encounter along the way, about a few dozen miles north of Santa Barbara.. very beautiful, picturesque, very good place to stop at for lunch (if you leave early) or a coffee break. amazing restaurants and bakeries.

    Pismo Beach - a very beautiful beach near San Jose.. nice community, nice places to eat


    stock up on gas if you're low, especially before Big Sur, fill your tank, up there fuel is far more expensive.

    then on highway 1 you will hit monterey and the iconic Lighthouse area.. worth stopping at during sunset for a nice picture.

    then you hit the beautiful San Fran downtown! most amazing city on earth!
    I refuse to List my camer@ equipment here.

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Firstly I would like to thank all that have replied to this discussion especially daredevil and krishna91 for their most valuable input. Thank guys!

    I guess the preferred route of choice would be Highway 1, being the most scenic, notwithstanding the slower and twisty roads. I like this one!

    Before I start, here is a bit of background information:
    Trip dates: early december to 20th December
    Persons: My wife, son 5 years old, daughter 1 year 6mth and myself.

    This is my plan thus far subject to opinions and changes

    1) to arrive and spend 3-4 days in LA

    2) drive from LA to SF via highway 1 - should i break my journey and stay a night perhaps midpoint between LA to SF eg cambria or morro bay? Or can I shoot straight to Monterey?

    3) 3 or 4 days in SF - with a side trip out to yosemite (is this too ambitious)

    4) SF to LA down via interstate-5 (i heard this is the fastest route, but i think i can be quite monotonous right?)

    5) rest 2 days in LA before flying back.

    I've googled the distance between LA to Monterey, and it is about 320miles....which is equivalent of sg-kl-sg. But I guess we cannot count it that way as the roads on Highway 1 is twisting right?

    I'll be going in december, so I guess with the winter and slippery roads, it'll make it all slower.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Please note of the shorter daylight you have in December (sunset about 5pm in Dec in CA) and make your travel plan accordingly. Your daughter "princess" will like Disneyland in Anaheim, LA.

    CP

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    true! She is the "princess" of the family, need to consider nap time, milk, feed, change etc.

    I guess with the shorter daylight brings shorter traveling time. I'm not much of a night driver. Safety first! hehe

  11. #11

    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Realize that traffic is bad in the Los Angeles area especially during rush hours.

    Also on Interstate 5 just North of LA you will go through some mountains. Need to be a little careful in this spot because there may be snow or ice at the higher elevations (I was shocked seeing this a few Decembers years ago).

    Try to take the road along the coast. Longer, but definitely more scenic.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Quote Originally Posted by enkindel View Post
    Firstly I would like to thank all that have replied to this discussion especially daredevil and krishna91 for their most valuable input. Thank guys!

    I guess the preferred route of choice would be Highway 1, being the most scenic, notwithstanding the slower and twisty roads. I like this one!

    Before I start, here is a bit of background information:
    Trip dates: early december to 20th December
    Persons: My wife, son 5 years old, daughter 1 year 6mth and myself.

    This is my plan thus far subject to opinions and changes

    1) to arrive and spend 3-4 days in LA

    2) drive from LA to SF via highway 1 - should i break my journey and stay a night perhaps midpoint between LA to SF eg cambria or morro bay? Or can I shoot straight to Monterey?

    3) 3 or 4 days in SF - with a side trip out to yosemite (is this too ambitious)

    4) SF to LA down via interstate-5 (i heard this is the fastest route, but i think i can be quite monotonous right?)

    5) rest 2 days in LA before flying back.

    I've googled the distance between LA to Monterey, and it is about 320miles....which is equivalent of sg-kl-sg. But I guess we cannot count it that way as the roads on Highway 1 is twisting right?

    I'll be going in december, so I guess with the winter and slippery roads, it'll make it all slower.

    I'm currently living in SF city itself and have done the drive a couple of times.

    If you are doing a loop trip, i would highly recommend you drive up from LA to SF via 5 and return down south via highway 1. That's coz the roads are opposite to singapore and the coast will be right beside you on the way south (not if you are going north). And it's easier for you to pull over and get out to take pictures, enjoy the view etc.... don't have to cross the road (which can be dangerous since you have young ones).

    regarding your "side trip" to yosemite, 3-4 days in SF with a side trip to yosemite... i would say that's a little rush unless you have already been to SF before and therefore just stopping for a night or 2 to recharge. As a side trip (day trip), i highly recommend wine country (Napa Valley) or Muir Woods if you wish to see some greenery. Yosemite is out of the way and snows during dec making the drive quite dangerous... (I've had an accident there driving into the valley during dec).

    other than that, i believe the rest of the people here have offered a tonne of good advice. Good luck and enjoy your trip!

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Thanks for the reply londonray!

    I guess its a practical and safe idea to do Highway 1 southerly from SF to LA. I almost forgot that we'll be driving on the right side of the road.

    How fast can i reach SF via Interstate-5 considering normal speed and road conditions? I guess I-5 is a straightforward route, quite monotonous....hence the suggestion on stocking up on coffee and music.

    Kinda ruling out yosemite as a side trip and possibly go to Muir Woods instead. thanks for the advices!

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Quote Originally Posted by enkindel View Post
    3) 3 or 4 days in SF - with a side trip out to yosemite (is this too ambitious)

    I'll be going in december, so I guess with the winter and slippery roads, it'll make it all slower.
    Yosemite is a definite must-must unless they block it out in heavy snow during winter. Maybe in early Dec you could get lucky. In good weather it should not take you more than 3-4hrs to reach from SF. Yosemite is amongst one of the most beautiful places in the world so should spend at least 2-3 days here. 2 days in SF may be sufficient. Try to lessen your days in LA or stay longer for the whole trip you can maybe drive east to LV and Grand canyon? Now that's ambitious.

    BTW have you ever thought of open jaw flight where you arrive in LA but depart from SF? That will save you 1-2 days of driving
    Photography? It's all in your mind...

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Quote Originally Posted by DrSpock View Post
    Yosemite is a definite must-must unless they block it out in heavy snow during winter. Maybe in early Dec you could get lucky. In good weather it should not take you more than 3-4hrs to reach from SF. Yosemite is amongst one of the most beautiful places in the world so should spend at least 2-3 days here. 2 days in SF may be sufficient. Try to lessen your days in LA or stay longer for the whole trip you can maybe drive east to LV and Grand canyon? Now that's ambitious.

    BTW have you ever thought of open jaw flight where you arrive in LA but depart from SF? That will save you 1-2 days of driving
    yes I did consider the open jaw flight, but all in all, i feel that it'll costs more. pardon havent done much homework here, more interested in the drive

    I thought of getting this free&easy package that comes with flight, 4 nights accommodation (in LA), tickets to the various attractions and I would just extend my for the drive up.

    Good idea? or should i just go ala-carte?

    Its a practical idea to go up via I-5 and return via Highway-5. But I just cant wait to see the Big Sur that I wanna see it on the way UP.

    Maybe there is a route that I can deviate for a bit, catch a quick glimpse of the Big Sur to satisfy myself before rejoining I-5?

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Correction:

    Drive up to SF via I-5

    Return south to LA via Highway-1.


  17. #17

    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Hey! I'm also doing a drive around that time. I'm actually here in Orange country right now, but will be heading to Vancouver to see my relative before coming back to SF on 16 Dec, to start my drive south and back to SF before new year eve.

    I'm actually trying to follow this recommended route
    http://www.usatourist.com/english/de...ving-tour.html

    though I might not be driving to the Grand Canyon, as the car rental company do not allow driving there, so I'll be either taking a bus tour or rent another car from Vegas to get to Grand Canyon.



    My only concern is I'm not sure what Yosemite will be like during 16 - 17 Dec period though.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Quote Originally Posted by londonray View Post
    I'm currently living in SF city itself and have done the drive a couple of times.

    If you are doing a loop trip, i would highly recommend you drive up from LA to SF via 5 and return down south via highway 1. That's coz the roads are opposite to singapore and the coast will be right beside you on the way south (not if you are going north). And it's easier for you to pull over and get out to take pictures, enjoy the view etc.... don't have to cross the road (which can be dangerous since you have young ones).

    regarding your "side trip" to yosemite, 3-4 days in SF with a side trip to yosemite... i would say that's a little rush unless you have already been to SF before and therefore just stopping for a night or 2 to recharge. As a side trip (day trip), i highly recommend wine country (Napa Valley) or Muir Woods if you wish to see some greenery. Yosemite is out of the way and snows during dec making the drive quite dangerous... (I've had an accident there driving into the valley during dec).

    other than that, i believe the rest of the people here have offered a tonne of good advice. Good luck and enjoy your trip!
    I recommend against Yosemite in winter. Unless you have a lot of experience driving in deep winter conditions, I would strongly advice against it, especially if your entire family is with you (including an infant). Even the most seasoned drivers like us still slip off the road once in a while. even if you are driving a real 4-wheel drive SUV. And no Tahoe either, unless seasoned winter drivers are driving for you.
    Last edited by daredevil123; 8th November 2010 at 02:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Quote Originally Posted by CyberTron88 View Post
    Hey! I'm also doing a drive around that time. I'm actually here in Orange country right now, but will be heading to Vancouver to see my relative before coming back to SF on 16 Dec, to start my drive south and back to SF before new year eve.

    I'm actually trying to follow this recommended route
    http://www.usatourist.com/english/de...ving-tour.html

    though I might not be driving to the Grand Canyon, as the car rental company do not allow driving there, so I'll be either taking a bus tour or rent another car from Vegas to get to Grand Canyon.



    My only concern is I'm not sure what Yosemite will be like during 16 - 17 Dec period though.
    Driving to Vancouver? watch out for very slippery roads in Oregon and Washington state. Rest when tired, pull over at rest stops, drink coffee etc... If too tired, just check into a motel. don't push on to save money if you are tired. I have already lost several friends to accidents while on long distance drives due to dozing off at the wheel. Happened to me once too, but was very lucky neither me nor my passengers were hurt.

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    Default Re: Driving from LA to San Francisco

    Quote Originally Posted by enkindel View Post
    yes I did consider the open jaw flight, but all in all, i feel that it'll costs more. pardon havent done much homework here, more interested in the drive

    I thought of getting this free&easy package that comes with flight, 4 nights accommodation (in LA), tickets to the various attractions and I would just extend my for the drive up.

    Good idea? or should i just go ala-carte?

    Its a practical idea to go up via I-5 and return via Highway-5. But I just cant wait to see the Big Sur that I wanna see it on the way UP.

    Maybe there is a route that I can deviate for a bit, catch a quick glimpse of the Big Sur to satisfy myself before rejoining I-5?
    Big Sur is nothing compared to 17-mile drive. So you know.

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