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Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

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Melbourne, Australia
posts: 7
reviews: 13
Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

Hi, we will be in LA this May and it's our first time in the US! We have 2 young kids with us and are driving from LAX to San Diego before we return back to LA for the rest of our trip. We arrive on a Sunday morning and should be ready to leave LAX by 9am.

What is the best route (and best time of day for a Sunday) to drive from LAX to San Diego? Please keep in mind that this will be our first time driving on the opposite side of the road, will be jet lagged and have 2 very tired and unhappy young kids to deal with as well.

Romford, United...
posts: 2,065
reviews: 23
1. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

Most direct route is I-405 San Diego Freeway should take approx.2hours but bearing in mind being jet lagged and over tired ankle biters you may wish to consider stopping for a break or caffeine ,there are some lovely places on route-you can look it up on google maps

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 7
reviews: 13
2. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

HI, thanks for your comment. My downfall is that I have been doing too much research on driving and have found too many sites advising to stay away from the I-405 and to go via Sepulveda Blvd - the long way round. I am so confused and drained - Im dreading driving! LOL

Perth, Australia
posts: 4,966
reviews: 27
3. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

Welcome to the forum ... this is the place to ask all your questions .. there are some great experts here. I don't class myself as an expert, but have travelled extensively in the US.

For the kids, make sure you have some drinks and nibblies for them in the car.. altho after the flight, they'll probably fall asleep anyway.

The 405 freeway is right near the airport, so its easy to get onto... just follow the signs for 405 SOUTH ... have a look at Google Maps.

My advice for first timers, is to stay in the centre lanes so if the exit is to the right or left, at least you are half way there.

Signage on the LA freeways is amazing ... much better than in Australia .. so if you have to move to another lane, you will be warned well in advance, so there's no problem.

You will find it much easier than you think. As you approach San Diego, the signs are good too for wherever you have to go.

Please remember you can't take your car into Mexico .. and I would really advise you not even think about walking over to Tijuana.

The kids will love Sea World, so I hope that's on the agenda.

Returning to LA, depending on where you are staying next (maybe Anaheim), follow the I-5 freeway north out of San Diego and if you are going to Disneyland, take the exits for Katella Ave/Disney Way. So easy.

I am going to send you a personal message.

Good luck and have fun.

Romford, United...
posts: 2,065
reviews: 23
4. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

AzFarm Trip

Can't understand why you have been warned off the I-405??

It's easy to get on to it and out of LAX towards San Diego, have driven the same route in both directions a number of times without any problems,in fact doing it again in April

The drive on a Sunday morning is not manic as people are normally out for the day enjoying themselves not rushing to work so don't worry

Yes they do drive on the wrong side of the road but they compensate for that by putting the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car-it only feels a bit odd for 10 mins or so.

Agree witjh Eaglemaniac on signposting being better than Oz having driven in both countries and don't even think of crossing into Tijuana

Edited: 8:43 am, February 17, 2013
Melbourne, Australia
posts: 7
reviews: 13
5. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

LOL, thanks for your input - the internet can be your best or worst friend. Tijuana, no chance - at least the signage will give us plenty of warning to turn around. I think I will just listen to these posts rather than doing anymore research!

Any road trip tips for newbies to LA?

Romford, United...
posts: 2,065
reviews: 23
6. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

Your main friend is that you are arriving on a Sunday morning, the internet is not wrong,I know some people that commute that route Mon-Fri and the rush hour(s) traffic can be an absolute nightmare for the most seasoned driver also you should be aware that when you return back to LA there is no overhead lighting at night on the freeway

If you still have any doubts when you arrive about the best route just ask the guy in the rental booth for up to date intel-they are pretty hot on customer service at the airport.

Take as much time as you like and enjoy the ride

Romford, United...
posts: 2,065
reviews: 23
7. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

AzFarm Trip

Forgot the mention about 30 miles before you get to San Diego you go through Carlsbad, now I'm not suggesting you spend your first few hours there but they have do a LEGOLAND which the young ones might like on a day trip from San Diego

Edited: 9:49 am, February 17, 2013
Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
posts: 13,708
reviews: 57
8. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

On a Sunday the 405 is fine. Heading south you can take Sepulveda Blvd. (which eventually becomes Highway 1) as far south as Dana Point where it merges with I-5 (the 405 and I-5 merge northof there, then the I-5 continues to San Diego) but I wouldn't - Highway 1 is not really a highway, its a surface street with traffic signals for much of this stretch and would be a lot slower than the 405.

Anaheim, California
Destination Expert
for Anaheim
posts: 23,686
reviews: 13
9. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

Once you get onto the I-405, get into the Carpool lane, which is on the left side of the freeway (makes sure and enter when the line is a dotted white line, and not yellow lines) just stay in the lane, when you reach the I-5 merge, the carpool lane has a special merge ramp. The carpool lane ends at San Clemente, which is at the southern part of Orange County. Then you enter Camp Pendleton at the start of San Diego County, a military base, so pretty much open land with very few exits. There is a nice Rest Area where you can stop, use the restroom and let the kids and yourself stretch your legs. absolutely no way to get lost, one way in, and one way out, which puts you right back on I-5 south. Then keep an eye out for your exit.

One area that might be confusing is near La Jolla, where the freeway splits into two, I-5 and I-805. In this area, do NOT get into the carpool lane unless you want to get onto the I-805. Stay in the main regular lanes, and take the right lanes (signage clearly marked I-5) to keep going to the main Downtown San Diego area and the areas near the Pacific Ocean.

Romford, United...
posts: 2,065
reviews: 23
10. Re: Best Route to drive from LAX to San Diego?

Darkbeer

That's sound advice on La Jolla section made the same error myself the first time I drove towards San Diego-forgotten about that!!!