Skip Navigation

Driving times Between San Fran and LA

Travel Forums North America Driving times Between San Fran and LA

  • 1
  • 2

Last Post

1. Posted by FraserM (Budding Member 7 posts) 9y


Im driving from San Fran to LA in May. I know it takes roughly 7-8 hours non stop driving.

Can someone give me the driving time between San Fran and Santa Cruz, from Santa Cruz to Monterey, Monterey to Santa Barbara, SB to Los Angeles?

It's not an easy question to answer but any help would be great!

Much Appreciated!!


2. Posted by Amie L. (Budding Member 45 posts) 9y

I can't remember clearly how long it took us to drive from L.A. to San Fran.

But I do remember getting stuck in traffic leaving L.A. and I mean bumper-to-bumper crawling traffic from all the commuters and it tacked on a load of time to the trip.

We camped just outside of Monterey that night, so we made it that far.

For the most part, you can drive the speed limit (from what I can remember) so if you want to figure out the mileage, and do the driving time math from there, that's about all I can suggest.

3. Posted by FraserM (Budding Member 7 posts) 9y

Thanks Amie.....

I suppose i'll just have find out when im there!


4. Posted by rhi_meyers (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y

San Fran to Santa Cruz --- about an hour and 15 minutes without traffic (take 280South to Highway 17 --less traffic)

Santa Cruz to Monterey/Carmel ---- 45 minutes (highway 1)

Monterey to Santa Barbara --- 4 hours if Highway 101, a little bit longer if you take Highway 1 south (scenic)

Santa Barbara to LA --- About an hour and half without traffic, depending where in LA you are going

5. Posted by FraserM (Budding Member 7 posts) 9y

Thanks very much!

You've made life easier. I'll now be able to write down a rough itinary.

We're leaving San Francsico at 7am. We have to be down in LA for about 8-9. But would like to stop off at places on the way down(lunch etc)

Thanks again.

6. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 9y

I agree with everything written here except for the part about Highway 1 south of Monterey/Carmel taking just a little longer (as opposed to Hwy 68 east, and then Hwy 101 south) to get to Santa Barbara.

First it takes about 4 1/2 hours taking the inland route to Santa Barbara. Taking Hwy 1 is extremely scenic, but will take you about 3 hours longer to get to Santa Barbara. Long stretches of this road has a max speed limit of around 30 miles per hour (it's along the side of a cliff about 1/4 mile above the ocean).

Many consider this the most beautiful drive in all of the US, but realize that it comes with the extra time requirement. (Also, for others planning to go this route, take some time in Cambria--both in town and along the beach--to really enjoy your trip. Also, Hearst Castle is along this route--and is a definite tourist attaction worth seeing--but you have to buy your tickets early--buy them on ticketmaster before you even arrive in the US if this is your plan).

Obviously, this plan will not work for FraserM because of the time requirement.

7. Posted by FraserM (Budding Member 7 posts) 9y

Hey Calcruzer, thanks for your help.

If i intend to leave San Francisco at 6 30 - 7AM, taking Pacific highway how long would it take to get to Los Angeles?

I really want to take this road as i've heard so many great stories about it.

It would be my intention to drive all day.

Im not sure exactly where im going to stop off for lunch etc.

Could you possible give me places to stop and have lunch etc and tell me roughly how long it would take between each place?

Thanks again for taking time to help out.


8. Posted by cdufrane (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y

Hi ... my husband and I are driving from LA to San Francisco in August with our 15 year old daughter and her best friend. We have two full days to get to SF. We will stay one night along the way. Does anyone have a suggestion as to where we should stay? Also, if you have any advice as to where to stay in the LA area, it would be appreciated. We are interested in seeing Hollywood and we are going to go to a Dogers game.

9. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 9y

Best city to stop in that's about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles would be Paso Robles or San Luis Obispo, Cambria (my choice if you are taking the coast route) or (my choice for the inland route) Pismo Beach. (I'd pick Paso Robles for the inland route if you can get there early and therefore have time to also stop at some of the wineries late in the day--it's a great wine region).

Other cities that woud be really great for staying at along this route, but are not "halfway" are Santa Barbara or Solvang--a city done like a Dutch village--(south end) or Monterey/Carmel or Capitola (north end).

If you do get to Paso Robles for a wine trip, try some of the following wineries:
J. Rohr, Scott Aaron (his wine tasting room is inside a chocolate store, which is appropriate since I think the wine tastes almost like it has chocolate in it), Still Waters, Eberle, Robert Hall, Stacked Stone, Wild Horse, York Mountain, Meridian, and the best of them all, Justin (which unfortunately is the farthest out-of-town)

For a unique experience, book a stay at one of the three rooms at the "Just In" located on the winery grounds of Justin, then experience the fabulous dinner menu at their on-site restaurant.


10. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 9y

I forgot to mention that if you want to stay in the redwoods, then stay in either Monterey (near Pebble Beach) or in Scotts Valley (an hour north--and just 6 miles inland from the beach).