My family and I will be driving to Disneyland this summer. We plan to rent a vacation home within walking distance of Disney and stay for three nights. There will be three adults, two 12-year-olds and a 1-year-old. The reason why I say we'll start in either Portland or Salem is because my family lives in Portland and I'm near Salem, so we aren't sure yet if we'll start out in PDX at their place or if they'll come to my place and we'll leave from here. Anyway, none of those details really matter...
My question is, what would be the best route to take for people who are nervous driving in big city, congested traffic? I do fine on I-5 south of Portland, where it's wide open and away from the city, but throw interchanges and merging and junctions into the mix and I start to freak out a little. The thought of getting in and around LA is terrifying.
I was toying with the idea of taking 101 down the coast as long as possible, since I grew up on the north/central Oregon coast and am used to 101 from Astoria to Newport (south of Newport I've only driven once as far as Crescent City). I know it will add some time to the trip, but would it be a better choice to avoid the big-city congestion? I'm the type who prefers the two-lane highways to multi-lane freeways, I just can't decide if the extra time on the road will be worth avoiding the congestion.
I would love to do 101 the entire way (or, I believe it turns into just 1 at some point?), but I'm not sure if that's feasible, time-wise. We'll be picking up a rental van in either Portland or Salem around 9-10 am, hopefully getting on the road by 10-11 am. I'd like to be off the road by 8 pm, 9 at the latest. So, maximum of 10 hours a day driving, including pit stops for food and gas. I don't see us stopping to sight-see except for some quick photo-ops along the road. We just want to get to Disney, but in the least stressful manner possible.
My tentative idea was to take 101 at least as far as Eureka, and stop around there for the night. After that, I have no idea. Like I said, I really want to do 101 the whole way to avoid the multi-lane freeway if it's doable and won't make it over 8-10 hours a day on the road. Getting through San Francisco, if we do 101 the whole way, seems a little daunting. And I read a post by someone on another discussion saying that if we're coming from the Santa Barbara area (which we would be if we take 101/1), to avoid LA traffic to get on 405 and come up to Anaheim from the south. Good plan?
Help, please! :)