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  1. #1

    Default Mother and Sons Road Trip from San Diego to Venice Beach, Claifornia

    Hi There,

    I'm traveling to San Diego at the end of March, and flying my 2 sons in at the end of my meetings. We are renting a car and driving from San Diego to Venice Beach. My boys are 18 and 12, and loved the movie Lords of Dogtown (Z boys). They are both passionate about skateboarding, longboarding, the beach... We are not a "theme park" kind of family. We like to experience the culture and life of whatever place we are in. We are Canadian, and love the Catskills in upstate New York (annual hippie road trip), and also European travel (so far - London, Paris and Rome). Can anyone suggest a great driving route for sightseeing along the way, as well as some MUST see / MUST do things between San Diego and Venice Beach...we won't do Sea World or the Zoo (not our thing)? We would also love to have hotel suggestions (cool and moderately priced) in Venice Beach.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions. I'm pulling them out of school for 4 days...I told my Husband, a Teacher it's called the School of Life :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome!

    There are essentially 2 sections of the coast drive between SD and LA - from SD to Oceanside and San Clemente to Long Beach and on up the coast. Camp Pendleton is in between Oceanside and San Clemente, with no public access - you have to take I-5 through it.

    The whole drive, other than through Camp Pendleton, can be best characterized as urban sprawl. It's basically one beach town after another with a lot of traffic congestion. Just north of SD, the area through La Jolla, Torrey Pines, and Del Mar is very upscale, primarily gated high end communities.

    In San Diego, I think you would enjoy Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. You also may want to check out Coronado and Point Loma, but be aware they are both heavily military. The Hotel Del Coronado is an architectural masterpiece. Coronado is home to the US Navy Special Forces and Seabees.

    We all have our opinions, but if I were in your place, I'd seriously consider staying in the San Diego area for the limited time you have. Before you fly the boys in, go check it out yourself after your meetings if you still have some daylight and see what you think. Otherwise, I'd consider just driving directly to LA on the freeways and concentrating your time around Venice Beach and north. I just don't think it's worth it trying to drive up the coast between the 2 cities. You could spend a day in SD, make the drive on the freeways, and spend the rest of the time in the LA area - or some similar combination.

  3. #3

    Default

    HI GLC,

    Thanks for your response back! How long do you estimate it would take to drive from SD to Venice Beach along the coast vs the free-way? I appreciate the fact that you mentioned how many little beach towns and traffic we would hit. Sometimes a map doesn't really tell you that. Have you spent much time in Venice Beach? Are there any hotels that you could suggest?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I have not spent any time in Venice Beach, but I have driven through there. Sorry, but I can't recommend any particular hotels.

    From downtown SD to Venice Beach via I-5/I-405/Venice Blvd is about 130 miles. If you go after morning rush hour, you MIGHT make it in 2.5 hours. I would allow 4 hours, and do NOT attempt it in rush hour.

  5. #5

    Default

    Having spent my developemental years (i.e. wild teen age years) in San Clemente, I can tell you two things. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH to the locals) is absolutely terrific. San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, Laguna Beach and points north...all wonderful places to visit. I would be terribly afraid you would never reach Venice Beach if you went that route. Too many places to stop and admire!

    Number Two: Stop lights...there are a GAZILLION of them! They will slow you down to the point of exasperation! If you just have to get to Venice...go the interstate and save PCH for another visit.

    And btw....the beaches in San Clemente...T-Street and the pier...are great places to see the surfers...and catch a wave or two.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Slightly Off the Beaten Path

    While glc is correct that the landscape between San Diego and Los Angeles is largely one of urban sprawl masquerading as beach towns, there are a few cultural and natural respites. Take a look at Upper Newport Bay Regional Park, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Buena Vista Audubon Center, Oceanside Harbor, and Mission San Luis Rey. Of course, be sure to check out Balboa Park in San Diego before you leave. There's a lot more there than just the zoo. And if you're looking for a bit of adventure on your way north and don't mind a little extra driving (and it's not too hot) maybe a detour to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park would be in order.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    San Clemente, Dana Point, and San Juan Capistrano are worthwhile stops, and just off the freeway. Due to the congestion on the PCH going north from there, I'd leave it at that and get back on the freeway after visiting them.

    You can cut some time and congestion off by taking the CA-73 toll road between I-5 and I-405. If you do, you should have at least $5.50 in quarters available for the toll machines. Toll rates vary by day of the week and time of day.

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