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Old 02-26-2013, 08:43 AM   #1
pjpoppins
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Driving SF to DL.

Just looking for recommendations. Flying was about $300 for us so a rental is cheaper . Plus we would need a rental in SF anyway do to a wedding. Anywhere cool to stop quickly along the way? Maybe a good place to eat (Diners Drive-ins, and Dives style)? I keep reading that the LA traffic is what can slow you down. What time should I try to drive through LA? Thanks.
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:58 AM   #2
danaesacto
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Much depends on what you are going to do- just take Hwy 5, boring and boring but gets you there fastest (just under 6 hrs with 1 potty break) or 101 for a scenic drive but takes longer (7-7 1/2 hrs)?
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjpoppins View Post
Just looking for recommendations. Flying was about $300 for us so a rental is cheaper . Plus we would need a rental in SF anyway do to a wedding. Anywhere cool to stop quickly along the way? Maybe a good place to eat (Diners Drive-ins, and Dives style)? I keep reading that the LA traffic is what can slow you down. What time should I try to drive through LA? Thanks.
If you're trying to make good time, I-80, I-580, I-205, and I-5 takes you in the fastest way. There are more scenic routes, but I-5 is the fastest way by far.

There really isn't that much along I-5 except for standard roadside pit stops with the usual fast food joints and Denny's. The one unique place is the Harris Ranch Inn. You will smell it, since it's close to the Harris Ranch feedlot, where literally tens of thousands of cattle await their fate.

http://www.harrisranch.com/index2.php
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:05 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danaesacto
Much depends on what you are going to do- just take Hwy 5, boring and boring but gets you there fastest (just under 6 hrs with 1 potty break) or 101 for a scenic drive but takes longer (7-7 1/2 hrs)?
I think these time estimates are a bit short -- traffic patterns around the Bay Area and LA can push the drive up considerably, so plan your drive around the rush hours (because if you start in one, your wind up stuck in the next). I5 is definitely the quickest route, but really nothing to write home about with respect to sights along the way.
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:28 AM   #5
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Not much to see on I5 other than maybe some nice views going over the Grapevine.

DLR to SF city is probably 7 hrs on I5 assuming no rush hour traffic. Use google maps to see the traffic patterns in LA before you leave. Sometimes faster to go up by Pasadena on the way north out of LA area than to take I5 straight through the city.
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:35 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by kangamama View Post
I think these time estimates are a bit short -- traffic patterns around the Bay Area and LA can push the drive up considerably, so plan your drive around the rush hours (because if you start in one, your wind up stuck in the next). I5 is definitely the quickest route, but really nothing to write home about with respect to sights along the way.
Okay thanks- we always leave by 7 am but we are in the valley so we don't have Bay Area traffic to deal with (anymore ). Okay OP- add an hour to my estimates- but as you can see the prettier drive isn't that much longer if you want to actually see some of California other than the YAWN...hwy 5
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:44 AM   #7
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Be carefull around Santa Clarita. By Majic Mtn. The road construction up there has turned our 3 hour drive to 4 hours twice the last couple months. Sometimes coming to a complete stop for tens of minutes.
Santa Nella has an Andersons Pea Soup restaurant, I think they still call it that. Other than Harris, the rest are fast food.
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:51 AM   #8
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I know people who like to stop at Harris Ranch. Haven't tried it personally. We usually just stop at the big drive through Starbucks near the enormous blue IKEA warehouse, somewhere in the middle of nowhere (right before we get to the mountains).



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Be carefull around Santa Clarita. By Majic Mtn. The road construction up there has turned our 3 hour drive to 4 hours twice the last couple months. Sometimes coming to a complete stop for tens of minutes.
Oh no... Thanks for the warning. We always seem to get stopped right around Magic Mountain. And it's usually gridlock from there -- guess it's even worse these days.
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:56 AM   #9
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As long as you plan your trip so you arent arriving in LA at rush hour you shouldnt have too much of a problem. There might be some spots that slow down some (40 MPH or so) but usually mid day or late evening dont have stop and go traffic unless there is an accident, but cant really plan for that. We come from Sac so the start of our trip is different but once you get to 5 its all the same. We either leave middle of the night (best with young kids so they sleep most of the way) or we leave early morning so we get there before the evening traffic.

As far as places to stop, we just stop where ever we are when we need gas or have to use the restroom. We try to stop as little as possible. We also pack a cooler with drinks and snacks to munch on.
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:08 AM   #10
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Well if you are going to take most of the day to drive anyways, I would consider doing both the 5 and the 101.

I'd take the 5 to Kettleman City and go west on the 41, which takes you to the 46, which then hits the 101. Maybe sounds confusing, but if you look on a map, it's pretty easy.

Going this way will take you through the beautiful wine country of Paso Robles, the beaches, Santa Barbara, and so on until you hit the 5 once again. And if you have some more time, off of the 101, there is a darling Danish town called Solvang. Lots of windmills and gingerbread buildings to see.

Anyways, if you time it right, for lunch, you can either eat at the Kettleman off-ramp at "In and Out Burger" or go to our favorite place to eat in Pismo Beach called "Splash Cafe" right up the street from the Pier. They serve the BEST clam chowder bowls, or burgers. Very well known place, and the line could wrap around building. But it's fun and good. If time allows, Pismo is one of the very few beaches you can take your car out on it for a drive.

Have fun!
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:29 AM   #11
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We're doing the same thing and planning the Pacific Coast drive - it's longer, but we consider that just as much of a sight as anything else we will see on our trip.
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:34 AM   #12
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when taking I-5 down to DL, just south of magic mountain, I just over to 210 then take the 57 south at San Dimas. usually less traffic as long as its still like lunch time and not in the afternoon (everything is trafficy then). Its longer but has better "sudden bathroom break required" options
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Old 02-26-2013, 12:46 PM   #13
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Seems that the 5 through LA is always crawling. We've tried a different route that has car pool lanes pretty much all the way in LA. Going from SF to DL:

1) 101 to 152; or 280 to 85 to 101 to 152 (much more scenic and can usually drive faster )
2) 152 to 5
3) 5 to 405
4) 405 to 105
5) 105 to 605
6) 605 to 91
7) 91 to 5
8) you're there!

Whew! That avoids the traffic areas on 80, 205 and 5. YMMV. Basically, don't be at either end of the trip from 4-8PM. That's when the traffic is the worst IMHO.

We just spent about $130 on gas going down and back. At that cost, it's almost cheaper to fly if going solo. For multiple people, driving is cheaper...
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Old 02-26-2013, 03:26 PM   #14
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We drive every trip just because it's cheaper then flying. I would avoid LA in high commute hours, but traffic in LA is always heavy. We just drove down there on Saturday, we left the bay area at 2:20PM (we take I5). We were making great time, but the traffic on the 5 was horrible when we checked google maps, so we tried going 210 to 57 and then of course a half mile ahead of us was a terrible accident and they closed the freeway for about 20 minutes. We always get stuck! Luckily it looked like no one was seriously injured as fire rescue was only there for a couple of minutes and no ambulance was called to the scene. If you try to arrive even later at night, you have to watch out for freeway closures and road work too. Just be prepared for a long trip!

As far as stopping on the 5, we like to stop at Buttonwillow. They have a Starbucks and a Subway and from what we noticed one of the cheapest gas prices. Hope that helps!
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Old 02-26-2013, 03:35 PM   #15
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We always take the I-5. Like the others said...boring, but fastest way. We so eat at Harris Ranch a lot. Their food is great!!! Or, there is always the standard McDonalds everywhere. Plus an In N Out and a few starbucks. We always stop right before the grapevine and do a starbucks run. It's a nice, clean, new area. I think they even have a Panda Express right there.
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