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How to get from Los Angeles toSan Francisco

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

The trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco is one of the great American journeys taking in the sun-kissed and mesmerisingly beautiful Californian coastline. With one of the world’s hottest travel destinations at each end and a route littered with spectacular scenery and inviting beaches, the journey is among the top global travel experiences.

San Francisco Road Trip

Phot by Audrey AK

Visitors have two main options for doing the journey, by train or by car. Generally the decision will be based on how much time you have to do the journey and with how many travel companions to intend to do it.

The railroad route is known by Amtrak, the American train company, as the Coast Starlight. This exotic name actually covers up one of the main disadvantages of the train which is that it only runs along the coast for a short section of the trip and for the rest runs slightly inland. That said, the views are tremendous and give visitors a feel for California that is often lost in its large cities by offering immediate contrasts between the coast and magnificent Cascade Mountain range.

The main advantage of the train is that the journey can be made in relaxing style. Panoramic windows and comfortable seating cars allow travellers to sit back and enjoy the view, although the luxurious dining cars will almost certainly tempt you at some point during the approximately twelve hour journey.

If you’re choosing to drive then the major advantage is the almost total freedom to decide the itinerary. State Route 1 and US Route 101 is the coast road that gives the best view at the expense of extra length because of all the twists and turns. Make sure to avoide Interstate 5 at all costs since this is in no way scenic and will mean a journey of traffic.

The total duration of the drive between the two cities depends on the number of stops, but a good estimate is at least two days with one overnight stop.

Finally, a growing number of tourists are extending their journey all the way up the west coast and travelling from LA to Seattle rather than stopping at San Francisco. This longer route can be done either by car or train. Since the Pacific Northwest is one of the most unspoilt regions of the US this journey certainly repays the long journey!

Hotels in Los Angeles

Miyako Hotel Los Angeles  roomMiyako Hotel Los Angeles

The 3 star Hotel Miyako Los Angeles is situated in Little Tokio, in the center of Los Angeles, California.

Guest Rating: 9.4

Shelter Hotels Los Angeles roomShelter Hotels Los Angeles

Shelter Hotels Los Angeles is located in the heart of Los Angeles, close to the Staples Center and MacArthur Park.

Guest Rating: 8

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14 responses to “How to get from Los Angeles toSan Francisco”

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  1. Luigi de Vito says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 18:07

    i did it twice :)
    what a trip :D
    does anybody need a touristic guide there ;)

  2. Lee Laurino says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 18:12

    great trip, this year i do it by train

  3. Gabriele Porri says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 18:13

    i did it, only in the opposite direction

  4. Zvonimir Lusch says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 18:18

    From SF to LA… then LA to Vegas…. and finaly from Vegas back to SF. Lady from rental car agency was kinda shocked – 1811 miles ;-)

  5. Annika Stenlund says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 18:20

    I did it a couple of years ago. I want to do it again! Don’t miss Hearst Castle!

  6. Paul Hastie says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 18:30

    I went down from SF all the way to San Diego, what a great trip… Seals, Sequoias and sea, love it. Highlights were Monterey aquarium, Madonna inn and the dunes at San luis.
    Saving up to go the other way and up through Portland to Seattle

  7. Shelley Wang says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 18:45

    I’m actually doing a mini version to monterey/carmel. Does anyone have recommendations for things to do up there and good places to eat? =)

  8. Kris Mccleery says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 18:50

    the Caolifornia coastal highway is a beautiful drive !!!

  9. Joe Calarco says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 18:58

    I did the trip up from LA on 5, we stopped to take a picture of the massive cattle distribution facility, after that every time we turned on the A/C in the car…well the smell was nasty! Then on the way back we took the Pacific Coast Hwy and that was amazing! Almost like driving in the Alps between Ventimigilia and Torino, nice twisty roads!

  10. Vera Powers says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 19:05

    Have done it several times. It’s an awesome highway!

  11. Jeff Allan says via Facebook:
    March 8th, 2011 at 20:08

    San Francisco to LA down the coastal highway. An awesome open top car drive.

  12. Bill Ellis says via Facebook:
    March 9th, 2011 at 01:07

    Best drive ever! Take your time, great sights…….don’t forget to stop at Hurst castle and 17 mile drive.

  13. Anita Pitts Oudega says via Facebook:
    March 9th, 2011 at 02:22

    Been back and forth countless times! So many great places to stop no matter which route you take!

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    March 10th, 2011 at 10:37

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