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driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

Encinitas, CA
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driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

Hi!

I'm trying to find the quickest and easiest drive from San Diego to SLO on Wednesday 9/29 in the afternoon. We have been to SLO before (beautiful!) and have done the long drive up the 101, but this trip is a business trip. Our final destination is Monterey, but we're staying at a friend's house for the night (Wednesday) to break the drive up a bit.

I know it will be right in the middle of rush hour, but we have no choice. We're leaving Encinitas at 2pm (hopefully no later).

I'm trying to find out how the following drives compare to the coastal 101 through Santa Barbara (I am trying to avoid having to go through SB from past experience also getting stuck in traffic in Th. Oaks, Oxnard, Ventura, etc.):

1) Stay on I-5 and go west at Exit 225 (Maricopa), taking the 166 to where it connects back to the 101. (This appears on googlemaps to be a mountain pass, so I'm thinking this is NOT the route to go.)

OR

2) Stay on I-5 and take the Buttonwillow 257 exit, follow the 58 west and then head South on 101 to the 1. (I know this backtracks a bit at the end.)

I haven't been on the 5 during this time of day in decades so don't know if the traffic is just as bad on the interstate as it would be on the 101.

Thank you in advance for your responses!

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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1. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

Sorry, but all of those routes are "the long way" here. If you opt for 166 or 58, you will be on 55 MPH 2 lane highways with the possibility of getting stuck behind slow moving trucks or country folk who live along that route that drive slow. I would stick with the 101, which moves well at mostly 65 MPH. To me it just doesn't make sense to travel northeast to go northwest.

Menlo Park...
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2. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

The traffic on 5 will be with you well past the turnoff for 101, but it won't be as bad as continuing along on 101, especially without commuter lanes (or have they added those recently?). Staying on 5 of course means you have to go over Tejon Pass with a lot of trucks, a piece of road that I find really tiring. I'd suggest then taking the 166 along the Cuyama valley, a lovely drive. The drive from Buttonwillow to Santa Margarita is narrow and winding and endless and longer anyway. Can't promise that it will get you to SLO any faster than staying on 101, but at least you will be moving.

I guess I don't need to suggest Hwy 1 as the preferred route from SLO to Monterey, if you have the time. I always take it if I have time and the weather's good.

Encinitas, CA
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168 posts
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3. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

Thanks for the advice; I will stay on the 101. I remembered after I posted this that I work with a guy who went to school in SLO; he also recommended staying on the 101.

I really hope we get up in the area in time to make it to Splash Cafe! I really love that place, and I'm NOT a clam chowder fan by any means. The one time we went there, I ended up stealing my hubby's bread bowl full of clam chowder. :o) I'm hoping for an unexpected "red sea" crossing where there is miraculously no traffic going up there... i can dream, yes?

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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4. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

I don't know if there would be less commute traffic or not, but you might consider taking the Santa Monica Freeway over to the coast and following Highway 1 up to Oxnard and connect with the 101 there. Perhaps someone local to LA/Santa Monica traffic can tell you if it's a faster route than sticking to the freeways all the way through LA.

Encinitas, CA
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5. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

i appreciate the idea.. i always consider it when going up that route.. but over the years, the 405 seems to be more and more ridiculously clogged.. i went to high school near Santa Monica and the Sepulveda area 16 years ago and it was bad then.. i can only imagine it hasn't gotten better.. and i understand there has been freeway construction that seems to be going on for years. i could be wrong as i have made it a point to travel that route as little as possible (no offense to anyone in the area).. it's just that we don't do that car trip as often anymore since my mom and her immediate family moved from Studio City to Orange County. sometimes it (staying on the 5 to the 101) just evens out and saves the stress of trying to make multiple freeway changes. thank you though!

Berkeley, Ca.
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6. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

Driving from Santa Monica to Ventura (where 1 and 101 rejoin) via 1 in Malibu is very scenic. We've enjoyed driving it several times, but I've never been convinced we were saving time vs., using 405 and 101 to Ventura, just saving aggravation.

Mission Viejo...
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7. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

I live in South OC....definitely check www.sigalert.com to see if there's a serious problem somewhere. You can continue checking enroute if you have a smartphone.

Instead of 405 or 5, I recommend:

I-5 to 57 North (direct carpool lane connector)

57 to I-210 West (may hit some congestion going from one to the other)

210 to 134 West in Pasadena.

134 turns into 101.

Or, if 134 is bad,

210 through Pasadena to 118 West.

118 becomes 23 South

23 South to 101 North in Thousand Oaks.

You're making a big loop around the east and north side of LA...it looks way out of the way on a map but from South OC it's 15 miles farther and usually saves a lot of time. But leaving Encinitas at 2pm all bets are off, though you will be opposite rush hour traffic until you get to the Fullerton area and have carpool lanes almost the entire route.

Atascadero...
Destination Expert
for Lake Powell
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8. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

I live near SLO, often go to the LA area. Here is a way from SD that you won't believe is a potential timesaver, but actually might be if traffic is bad in LA:

15 north to 395

395 to SR 58 (at Kramer Jct)

58 west to 5

5 north to 46

46 west to 101

101 south to SLO

Should keep in mind that anyone going to SLO from the LA area living west of highway 5 should take 101 for the fastest route. If you live east of 5, or on the 5, you actually can make up time by going north on 5 over the grapevine...and always take 46 west to SLO county, not 58 (a very slow road,,,but 46 is fast..James Dean died where the 46 and 41 come together)

If your desintation is Paso Robles, this approach is most definitely faster, since 46 goes straight to Paso. If you're going to SLO, it seems counterintuitve to go south on 101 at the end, but this may actually save time if LA traffic is an issue...

...done this many times...both ways...101 is a nicer drive...5 is longer, but can be faster depending on where you start in southern California, and traffic in LA.

So. Cal
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9. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

I don't know if there would be less commute traffic or not, but you might consider taking the Santa Monica Freeway over to the coast and following Highway 1 up to Oxnard and connect with the 101 there.

___________________________________________________________

Trust me 99.9 % of the time Highway 1 will SAVE you at least .5 hour and is a lot more scenic. Taking the 5 or 405 to the 10 is a flip of the coin on any given moment. Once you arrive in Santa Barbara via 101 the short cut route to SLO is Highway 154. That also saves about .5 hour. You won't see the ocean but it's just as beautiful of a drive.

10. Re: driving advice needed from San Diego to SLO

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