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driving from LA to SF

Travel Forums North America driving from LA to SF

1. Posted by Ge0rgie (Budding Member 2 posts) 3y

Hi there
I'm planning to visit California on my way to NYC where I'm gonna hang out for 3 months.

I'm trying to decided whether I should fly direct to San Francisco, but I'm keen to check out LA for a couple of days and maybe bus/train up to San Francisco.

can anyone give some insight as to whether its worth it? i plan to only spend 10days on the west coast in total.
ive read some pretty dodgy reviews on the bus sytems. and ill be by myself so driving in a rental alone prob wont be the greatest plan...

would love to hear some thoughts.
cheers, Georgie

2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 3y

Georgie,
I vote that you DO rent a car and drive it yourself. There are so many things to see between LA & SF that it would be worth your time IMO to drive this part of Calif.

I will list only a few of the places you might want to visit.
Santa Barbara is a very pretty town and could be your lunch stop. Solvang is a Danish town close to Santa Barbara that many visitors enjoy. Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, and a must see is The Hearst Castle at San Simeon. My friends stay at Cambria and just love it. It might be a place to spend one night. Farther up Highway 1 is Big Sur, Carmel & Monterey. Santa Cruz is next up and has a historic boardwalk & amusement park.

Off the coast, but certainly worth visiting is Yosemite NP. There are more things to see/do between La & SF than you have the time for, but I would spend a few of your days driving this scenic section of Calif.

3. Posted by Ge0rgie (Budding Member 2 posts) 3y

thank you! i will definitely do some research on these places!

ive just heard about a bus called Bundu. its hop on hop off, and has a tour of the zion national park? any body got any reviews on this one?

and also the amtrack coast starlight train? which goes fom LA to oakland....

4. Posted by aj_mckay (Budding Member 19 posts) 3y

I used Amtrak to get around the 'States when I was there for 6 weeks. It was faultless except for getting to San Francisco. If I recall correctly, there isn't a direct rail link to San Fran from LA. You mentioned Oakland - maybe that's where you need to change(?) or link with a bus.

My girlfriend and I rented a car with an Australian couple we met while in New Orleans and drove from LA to San Fran (via Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon and Yosemite NP), which was awesome. Renting a car can be affordable depending on your age. If you're under 25, rental prices are doubled by insurance premiums, over 25 and you're fine. It was arounf $400 for 2 weeks between us I think and we were all under 25 at the time (just!).

I'd recommend driving if you can though because as mentioned above, there are LOADS of cool places in the huge area between LA and SF. Buses aren't that bad, although we only used the Greyhound once for a trip between Buffalo, NY and Boston, MA. They're nowhere near as comfortable or reliable as the trains but they do the job.

Anyway, whatever you choose I'm sure you'll have an awesome time. The USA is a great place to go backpacking with good transport options and links and a decent network of accommodation (this site is great for finding and booking rooms - we carried a laptop with us and used it all the time to book ahead). Oh, I'd also highly recommend getting a Lonely Planet guide book for the area you're going to (California) as we found it invaluable!! ;)

5. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1884 posts) 3y

Yes, Amtrak doesn't go into San Francisco--it goes into Oakland--and then you either can get a bus or else take the BART system (subway/metrorail) into San Francisco, which is 8 miles away on the other side of the bay.