Anything interesting on southern I5?
July 28, 2008 10:36 AM   Subscribe

My wife, 6 month old daughter, and I are driving from Santa Cruz to San Diego, then back up through LA and Santa Barbara. I'm looking for places to stop along the way.

My daughter starts getting really fussy if she's in her car seat for more than an hour. The plan is to drive down I5 to San Diego, hang out with friends, then come back up to LA and Santa Barbara via 101. I would love to find interesting places to stop along the way. Any advice on nice views, historical areas, nice parks, cool stores, easy to get to but not fast food restaurants would be appreciated (breweries are also a plus). I've made this drive before, but I've never stopped much along the way.
(this is my first question, so I hope all is kosher)
posted by zito75 to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Laguna Beach
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:45 AM on July 28, 2008

posted by Arbac at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2008

Mission San Juan Capistrano
posted by shesbookish at 11:05 AM on July 28, 2008

Stone Brewing is in Escondido. Haven't been there yet, but I want to!

Santa Monica Pier/Third Street Promenade is another option.

Second Laguna. If you like arts/crafts (mostly higher-end stuff), the Sawdust Festival is going on right now.
posted by faunafrailty at 11:07 AM on July 28, 2008

One more restaurant: Chili My Soul in Encino absolutely rules, and it's really close to the freeway. I have yet to find a similar chili place anywhere--friendly for veggies and meat-lovers alike, with tons of choices and lots of chili peppers on the wall for your baby to gaze at.
posted by faunafrailty at 11:09 AM on July 28, 2008

Have you considered taking the Amtrak? It's probably cheaper than gas and far more comfortable.

I make the San Diego to LA journey all the time; I wouldn't consider driving it now that I've tried Amtrak.
posted by 26.2 at 11:13 AM on July 28, 2008

Laguna Beach is kinda close to SD but having been there the first time this summer I was pleasantly surprised by how well it compares to eg. Carmel (it's like Carmel's Ocean Street but right along the coast -- not perpendicular to it).
posted by yort at 11:20 AM on July 28, 2008

Given the route/distance you're describing, there is very little along the I-5, really, until you get beyond the Grape Vine and into Valencia. The stretch of the 5 that spans from the 152 to Valencia is really sparse in terms of places to stop and check out. On a roadtrip last year, my friends and I pulled off the freeway before the grade and had a picnic along a vineyard. So, there's that, but I hardly imagine you want to trespass anywhere with your infant daughter. After the grade, though, there's more to choose from.

Antoine's Café in San Clemente is really lovely. Back in my youth, it was called the Half Way House, as it has half the way from San Diego to Los Angeles. It's right on El Camino Real (main thoroughfare in San Clemente), and not too far off the freeway. Great place to grab a quick bite, and totally kid friendly.

• 2nding the Mission in San Juan. It is beautiful (if maybe a little celebratory of colonial conquest).

• The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens are just off the freeway (where the I-5 meets the 134).

• The newly remodeled Griffith Observatory is fun, and offers some breathtaking sights of the city and park.

Bob's Big Boy is just north of the Zoo/Observatory along the 134 (right before the 101, where you're headed), and is awesome for lunch. If you're looking for something a little nicer, Mo's is just across the street (full bar and awesome mashed potatoes!).

An anecdotal word of caution about Amtrak: they don't own the railway lines. While this may not raise any immediate red flags, it is worth noting that if a freight train is making its way along the coast, Amtrak will have to pull over and wait for the train to pass. This happened to me once when I was a student at UCSC. On our way from Santa Cruz to Oxnard, our train was made to pull over, and the delay added 6 HOURS to our trip, which ended up being a little over 14 hours long. We just sat there, stranded in the same position, for 6 hours. It was awful, and possibly exacerbated by the fact that the crew had no idea when we'd be off and running again. Given that you're traveling with your young daughter, the delay may be more burdensome than it was for me. This is something to definitely consider before picking up train tickets.
posted by numinous at 11:59 AM on July 28, 2008

Nthing Mo's, which used to be one of the two Hampton's--the last time I was in there, it looked like they'd kept the encyclopedic burger menu.
My family never went to Pea Soup Andersen's on road trips when I was a kid; it took one of my own ten years ago to sample it...not bad. When you're in Santa Barbara, stop at McConnell's for ice cream; my favorite is Swiss Chocolate.
posted by brujita at 3:06 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Obviously, being from Santa Cruz you may have already heard of mystery spot, but it's truly amazing and great for kids!

There is also the California Scenario, a sculpture garden located right outside South Coast Plaza Mall. Designed by Isamu Noguchi.
posted by pleasantries at 6:26 PM on July 28, 2008

The only place I will stop on the 5 between Stockton and the Grapevine is the Harris Ranch restaurant. This place is often called Cowschwitz, I think because you can smell the manure from the freeway and so ill-educated people think the cows are dying. They are actually treated pretty well.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:42 PM on July 28, 2008

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