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Driving in California

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I might be doing some college visits on the left coast this March, and had thought of driving between LA and San Fran, as driving to airports, dealing with security, and finding new rentals won't be much faster. Also, I'd like to see more of the place.

Questions:

Any preferences between northbound and southbound? I'd thought of heading north to avoid sun in the eyes, but don't have any special insights.

And is the coastal route up 1 markedly better than 101, or is there pleasure to be had driving in the interior? I know literally nothing about this stretch of the state.
post #2 of 17
Well, N-S in CA is not true N-S, it's really NW-SE, so northbound you are more likely to get the sun than the reverse. That said, I've driven the route about a million times in my life and it's never been an issue so don't bother to plan around that.

The 1 is a tourist route. Coastal (literally), two lanes (1+1), winding, slow. It's not a transit route, it's a road that is a destination in itself. Double the time the miles say. In other words, if you're trying to get somewhere in a reasonable time, stay off the 1. That said, I love Highway 1 and drive it whenever I can. It is truly one of America's great treasures. The scenery is spectacular. If you have time, visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon and eat at Nepenthe in Big Sur.

The 101 is quick and reasonably scenic and even on the water part of the way. You go through Paso (Hi, Piob!), Pismo and the Salinas Valley, which is gorgeous in its way. Also goes right through Santa Barbara. When I lived in LA I would always take the 101 home to Santa Cruz.

The 5 is much faster still but really bleak and awful. Well into the interior. Take this if you are in a hurry.

It's six hours at best from LA to SF by car and 45 minutes in the air, so flying even with the hassles still makes some sense.
post #3 of 17
What manton said. I drive if I have the time, because LAX and SFO are so horrible. 5 is an armpit, but it is fast. 1 is awesome.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks. We'll try to fit it in.
post #5 of 17
101 BTW is the heart of historic California. The route is the same as the old Spanish colonial "Camino Real" that linked the Mission Chain.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Maybe do 101 for a bit and switch over to 1? There must be a way to get theah from heah.
post #7 of 17
There are surprsingly few connectors, though the routes do converge through SB county. After that 1 continues on the coast and 101 a dozen or two miles inland. The Santa Lucia mountains are quite forbidding, which is why basically no one has ever settled the coast between Carmel and SB. Cambria and Morro are about it. North of Cambria there is nothing but the cabins of Big Sur, and those only started really in 1939 with the building of the 1.

Anyway, 46 connects the two just south of Cambria but north of that there is bascially nothing. However, the stretch of 1 between Cambria and Carmel is the most spectacular of all.
post #8 of 17
Oh yeah, James Dean crashed and died on HIghway 46 near Cholame.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Concordia View Post

I might be doing some college visits on the left coast this March.

Which schools, just out of curiosity?
post #10 of 17
woah, easy, stalker
post #11 of 17
smile.gif

You're right, unduly nosy--was just curious as someone who grew up and went to college in California.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manton View Post

Oh yeah, James Dean crashed and died on HIghway 46 near Cholame.

I had the most epic truck passing experience on the straight stretch there once. Must have passed about 100 big rigs before a car came in the other direction.

I actually love the grapevine in Spring. 5 and the 101 are pretty ugly this time of year though. 5 is the rest of the year too (minus the grapevine), and worse now that all the farms bordering it are dried up for that fucking fish.
post #13 of 17
46 has a lot of deaths every year, I think it is considered the most dangerous road in California.
post #14 of 17
I'm sure the fact that the wineries in Paso are so generous with their pourings and often charge little or nothing for tastings might have something to do with it.
post #15 of 17
When you take the 5 north, you will pass two cow fields and you're always down wind of them. The smell will get in your car and on your clothes, and if you open your mouth, you will have a bad taste in your mouth for the rest of the trip.

Driving in a straight line for so long is a little scary. I don't think I pay attention as much as I should.
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