Seattle to LA Road rip

Started Jun 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
MarkInSF Senior Member • Posts: 2,237
Re: Seattle to LA Road rip

drh681 wrote:

I think you'll be hard pressed to photograph anything but rest stops and gas stations.

But I-5 goes right by Mount Shasta and through Sacramento.

You could dodge west to US 101 and see some more wild spaces and The Golden Gate Bridge.

Highway 1 in California will take f o r e v e r.

According to Bing it is 1150 miles and 16 plus hours to drive from Seattle to Los Angeles the fast way, (I-5)

If you take 101 from San Francisco you go through some nice areas and at Lompoc there are beds of flowers being raised for seed this time of year.

Hwy 1 north of the GG bridge, from near Sausalito to north of Ft.  Bragg, is, indeed, fairly slow.   Actually, the road itself is a consistent 50 mph., give or take a bit, but the mileage is a lot more than 101.   The scenery is very pretty, with forest down to the sea in places and a lot of rocks off the Sonoma coast.  But there is nothing in that section that you can't also see on the Oregon coast or on the Big Sur stretch, which is much less out of the way and adds far fewer miles to the trip.   OK, one thing you won't see in the southern stretch is Ft. Ross, an old Russian outpost (other than the chapel, a reconstruction.)

San Francisco, my home, could use its own guidebook, but you aren't going to have that much time and it's a difficult place to drive (to say the least).   Coming over the GG Bridge is worth putting up with a little traffic.   The drive on 101 down through Marin County really isn't bad for traffic except in the morning rush hour.   Even kind of scenic.   Sausalito is a nice place to stop and stretch or have a meal.   It's right off 101, easy off, easy on.   Cute, if touristy.

South of SF you have choices.   The section from SF to the Monterey Peninsula on Hwy. 1 is pretty, but everyone skips it (though it's one of my favorite Sunday drives) .   It's less dramatic than the Big Sur stretch and adds a lot of miles.   Much better to take I-280 (really pretty) south from SF, then CA 85 to 101 and on down.   Then cut over to Hwy. 1 near Carmel and take the famous stretch through Big Sur to Morro Bay.   Despite all the grumbles, it adds no more than two hours to the trip.   If it's foggy, don't bother.   It's not that complicated.   It's a consistent 50mph road (except for a few slow curves).   I do this at least once a year on my drive down to see my mother.   It does it a long day's drive from SF to LA, but encourages spending the night in Monterey, a good idea anyway, or even down in the settled part of Big Sur.

Further south there's Hearst Castle, an amazing sight, though not a quick in and out.   The tours are mostly reserved well ahead of time.   There are about four tours covering different parts of the house and grounds, all starting out the base of the hill, from which they bus you to the top.   A visit takes a little planning, but if you can fit it in it's a place you'll never forget.  The IMAX history video shown in the visitor's center is very good.   The little town of Cambria, nearby, is very cute, and a beach near San Simeon has one of the more visible populations of elephant seals, right off the highway.   There are some seaside motels in the San Simeon area with nice views, but Cambria is cuter.  The section of Hwy 1 further south, through Lompoc, is mostly rural and can be skipped, though you may see flower fields in bloom.

If you have the time, Santa Barbara is beautiful and photogenic, especially the magnificent downtown courthouse and the elegant mission, perhaps the prettiest of all.   Santa Barbara is a great place to stretch your legs for an hour or two.   If you feel like a walk, just start around the courthouse, walk around the reconstructed Presidio, then over to State Street to walk a few blocks down towards the ocean.  The mission is a short drive away.

The section of Hwy 1 from Oxnard (or beyond) to Malibu is OK, if you like seeing a line of beachfront mansions.   If you're going to LAX, it's not that much slower than taking the freeways, which can be jammed even away from rush hour, at least in spots.   Pacific Coast Hwy. moves well enough, though if you aren't in a big rush.   Anyhow, I do this trip a couple of times per year, and to relieve boredom add various bits of Hwy 1 into the mix.   It's not that slow.

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