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  1. #1

    Default San Diego to Seattle Road trip

    We'll be flying into LA from Sydney on July 29 and are planning to hire a car with a one way rental and drive to San Diego and then up the coast to Seattle, arriving around August 13 to 15. We're in the early stage of planning our itinerary and would appreciate some comments and suggestions.

    After we arrive in LA on Wed July 29 we plan to drive to San Diego and spend the Thursday and Friday there before heading back to LA and then on to San Francisco. We've been to LA numerous times so we won't be spending any time there. We could take 3 days to travel from San Diego to San Francisco, arriving on Monday evening August 3. We would then spend two days in San Francisco before heading north on Thursday 6th.

    If we can fit it in we'd like to travel via Yosemite and perhaps then on to Lake Tahoe when we leave San Francisco before heading north. If we do this we could travel via Reno but from there I'm not sure whether to then travel down to Sacramento and then up Highway 5 and then west towards the coast or to travel on 395 from Reno and head towards the coast further north.

    We're mainly travelling for photography and I love mountain as well as coastal scenery so I'm sure we'd enjoy travelling on either route. As we travel from California to Oregon and Washington there will be coastal as well as inland places worth seeing so I would appreciate any suggestions on an ideal route, with 7 to 10 days to travel to Seattle after we leave San Francisco, as well as any comments on the route between LA and San Francisco - where to stop on each of the two nights, or whether we could comfortably travel from San Diego to San Francisco in two days. I've seen the LA - SF drive done in two days on travel shows here but with the extra distance from San Diego to LA that may be too difficult to fit in.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    I would recommend putting Yosemite in between Los Angeles and San Francisco, rather than backtracking somewhat from SF to Yosemite and adding over 200 miles to your trip (look at that as about four hours you can use taking photographs in Yosemite).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Little Bit of Both

    Actually, I'm going to disagree with Tim a bit on this one. You appear to have plenty of time for your trip and so don't need to make decisions based purely on getting efficiently between your main stopping points. Since some of the most scenic coastline in America is the stretch between Los Angeles and Monterey along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH or CA-1), and three days gives you the time to travel this at a fairly leisurely pace, I'd suggest that you make the drive between San Diego and San Francisco along that road. Unfortunately this means driving through the heart of Los Angeles, but at least you know what to expect from that freeway system.

    Then after San Francisco head inland to Yosemite. There's a reason it's one of the most photographed places on Earth, after all. Continue eastward over Tioga Pass on CA-120 to the Town of Lee Vining and take US-395 up to Lake Tahoe. But then, rather than head immediately back to the coast, continue north-northwesterly on US-395/CA-44/CA-89 past Lassen Volcanic National Park and finally use CA-299 to get to the coast just south of Redwoods National Park. You can complete your trip up to Seattle by alternating between the coast on US-101 and the interior on I-5 as the mood and attractions strike you, but do consider Crater Lake National Park, the mouth of the Columbia River and the Olympic Peninsula, all extremely photogenic,


  4. #4


    Thanks for the reply. If we travel to Yosemite between LA and San Francisco where would you suggest we leave the coast? I have heard that the drive between LA & SF is spectacular so would have to decide how much of the coast road to miss.

    I realise it would be better if we were doing a round trip as we could then travel one way up the coast and return on inland roads. This trip started as a trip to Alaska, with us flying in to LA on Wed 12 August and then flying straight to Anchorage and hiring a car for 12 days before joining a southbound cruise to Vancouver on Mon 24 August. We're lucky to be using Frequent Flyer miles for our flights between Australia and the U.S. and can change the dates without any problems. I had been wanting to extend the trip to see somewhere else while we're in the U.S. but my wife didn't want to be away for so long. Our 21 year old son has now decided to come with us and he'll fly in to LA with me on July 29, two weeks earlier than originally planned, and my wife will now fly into San Francisco a week later, on August 5, so we have to plan the itinerary so we pick her up then and that may not allow time to travel to Yosemite before arriving in SF. Our son wants to go to San Diego to see the zoo and the wildlife park so we want to have two full days there before heading north.
    Last edited by Ken; 11-26-2008 at 09:34 PM. Reason: Double Post

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default I'm with Buck

    I think I agree with Buck on this one, and I would also recommend the outline that he has suggested.

    However, the other good option I would think about doing is following the Coast as far north as Monterey, then cut over to Yosemite, perhaps continuing to Tahoe, and then head back west to SF. That would let you follow the coast throughout northern california.

    There are lots of good choices here, so it can be a bit tough to decide.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Would she forgive you ?

    Hi Ken,

    They are all good choices but I agree with S/F before Yosemite for two good reasons. The first is that if you wish to visit Tahoe then it will make more sense to drive from Yosemite over the Tioga pass [HWY 120] which is a big part of experiencing the park anyway and will save you back tracking.
    Secondly and most importantly would your wife ever forgive you for visiting one of the most beautiful places on earth before picking her up from S/F.

    I doubt mine would ;-)

    Here's a link with some good info between S/D and Carmel. and another good link from Larrison on Beaches along the way.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    The Netherlands

    Default Alike

    Actually Ken, the options AZBuck gave you were exactly the same options I gave you on TA.........Great minds think alike hehehe.

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