Driving from North Bay Area to San Diego. Important route / trip tips?
March 11, 2017 1:36 PM   Subscribe

I am planning to leave Monday at around 4 a.m. from the Santa Rosa area, driving to San Diego. Car full of kids. Are there any routes I should avoid? Anything else to know about? I've never made this trip before and have only flown to SoCal once. Thanks!
posted by circular to Travel & Transportation around San Diego, CA (10 answers total)
Best answer: There will be morning and afternoon commute traffic associated with SF and LA.

With kiddlies in the car, you'll be able to make use of HOV lanes. Apparently they operate 24x7 in SoCal!
posted by metaseeker at 1:44 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Go around LA, not through it!
posted by wintersweet at 1:56 PM on March 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Either US99 or Interstate 5 To Sylmar then the 210 to Interstate10 to Interstate 15 to San Diego.
posted by hortense at 2:13 PM on March 11, 2017

Best answer: Like Hortense says, but consider crossing over to 15 before you cross the mountains. That 210 is a disaster between Pasadena and the 15.

So, 99 to Bakersfield, to the 58, to the 14, to the 18, to the 15. The desert should be nice this time of year, too. Keep an eye out for fighter jets and stuff. You'll be driving near Edwards AFB.
posted by notyou at 3:25 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Secret desert shortcut with easier mountain pass ; exit Interstate 5 at Gorman Ca. SR138 Avenue D (poppy reserve!) to SR14 lancaster-palmdale , SR18 is also SR138 follow to cajon junction Interstate 15. it is a beautiful drive .
posted by hortense at 3:50 PM on March 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Not knowing the age of the kids, or how much non-urban driving they (and you) have done before, I'd say: You might want to be ready to field some questions about cattle ranching and stockyards in an age-appropriate way. I-5 goes through an absolutely enormous cattle ranch (Harris Ranch, the biggest in California) in Coalinga, about halfway between San Jose & Bakersfield, & you will smell it for miles. I have been both the kid and the adult in "let's talk about where hamburgers come from" conversations along that stretch of road.
posted by miles per flower at 5:15 PM on March 11, 2017

Best answer: Should you want to venture out to the coast, just be aware that Hwy 1 through Big Sur is Closed due to storm damage. The detour is 250 miles long, from what I've heard.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 5:20 PM on March 11, 2017

Best answer: Leaving Santa Rosa at 4am, you'll arrive in the LA Basin after rush hour. If your intent is to just get there, dammit, then I-5, 210, 10, 15 isn't a bad route. Much depends on unpredictable factors. If there's an accident, I-5, 405, I-5 works as an alternate route. Not very scenic, but lots of lanes. But you asked what to avoid. Avoid any temptation to stay on I-5 through LA proper unless you have nerves of steel.

Are you looking for other advice? Places to stop/eat?
posted by dws at 6:06 PM on March 11, 2017

Best answer: Hortense, isn't the 138 through Lancaster to the 15 mostly a two-lane highway? I'm reaching way back to remember that drive.

The 210 headed east is significantly better than the 10, but I agree it might be tough depending on the time of day you hit it. Check sigalert as you get closer to AV before deciding between 138 or 210.
posted by vignettist at 10:34 PM on March 11, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. We went from I-5 to 99 to the 58, then 14, 18, 15. Drove us nuts to see Google nag us about how much time I-5 direct would save us all the way down, so we took I-5 on the way back home. That was on a Saturday so it wasn't bad at all. Glad we were able to try both. The mountainous routes were pretty and my kids got to see some cool prickly trees and other stuff we hadn't seen before. Appreciate all the help!
posted by circular at 2:34 PM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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