I will be travelling from L.A. to San Francisco in later February 2015. I will have my little boy 10 months old and my mother in law (65) with me. I was wondering, if someone can suggest some routes, I will need to make a few stops on the way (change nappies, feed the baby, stretch the legs, etc), and maybe it could be an idea if I could stop overnight in some place by the road. I have never been in California before, if this was here in Europe, that's how I would do it. Or would you suggest to get a train? Do I need a car in San Francisco to get to know the city? 2-3 days would be enough to see the main points? TIA


1 Answer 1


There are a few obvious driving routes. The drive will probably take 6 to 8 hours overall depending on where in the city you begin and end.

  • I-5 is the fastest but certainly the least interesting with fewest opportunities to stop. There are official rest stops along the way but these have very few services. Almost no towns.
  • 101 is slightly more interesting and goes through some towns.
  • 1 goes right along the west coast and is the most interesting, but takes a lot more time and there's a big stretch with no towns.

There is no direct train between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The only public transportation option is the bus (which according to Google Maps takes 16 hours).

There are places to stay (motels) along most major roads, usually in towns. Sleeping in your car by the side of the road or in rest stops is not allowed in California.

San Francisco has good public transit (BART, buses) and a car is not necessary (although there are some places where you might need a car to get to).

  • 9
    Whilst technically you're correct in that there's no train to "San Francisco" the Amtrak Coast Starlight goes from LA to San Jose/Oakland/Emeryville. At San Jose you can connect to Caltrain to SF. At Emeryville there's a connecting Amtrak bus to SF, and from Oakland you could catch a taxi.
    – Doc
    Oct 9, 2014 at 0:01
  • 3
    I was born and raised Californian, I take the 1 if I'm not in a huge hurry. It adds 30-40 minutes, but the drive is much nicer and more scenic. Just be sure to fill up your tank before you get to Big Sur.
    – Will
    Apr 8, 2016 at 18:08
  • 2
    State Hwy 1 is definitely the most pictureque; and you can also use US 101 for portions too. Jul 5, 2016 at 19:25
  • I don't know what Google Maps had in mind. Megabus runs both SF and Oakland to Los Angeles. The former is scheduled for about 7.5 hours and the latter 7. I'm sure Greyhound also runs this route at far less than 16 hours. Sep 4, 2016 at 1:34

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