It can take from 381 to 426 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco, depending on which route you take. It takes about 6 hours on the Interstate-5 and 8 hours on the Highway-101. If it’s going to be a nonstop journey, I’d take the “road less traveled” (because with limited time, it probably wouldn’t be too much of an issue that scenery means a bunch of tumbleweed and shipment trucks of all shapes and colors, think Transformers)
If you find yourself with an extra day or two between Los Angeles and San Francisco, I would highly recommend taking this slightly longer route on the Highway-101. Not only will you enjoy better scenery, but you will have the opportunity to time travel and visit places such as the Getty Villa, Solvang, the Hearst Castle, and Monterey. For me, this mini road-trip allowed me to come to the realization that William Randolph Hearst and J. Paul Getty must have been friends.
Watch this lecture by Hearst Castle historian Victoria Kastner for more background to my realization! It’s really great to learn about how these two connoisseurs of art & antiquities became inspired by art and travel. Getty once said, “It’s not how much money you have, it’s what you do with it.” And Hearst once said, “The enjoyment I’ve had from these objects is nothing to the enjoyment that others will have with them. It’s important for art to come to America. It all ends up in museums and not everyone can go abroad.”
FUN FACT: The word “museum” originated as the seat or shrine to the “Muses”. Muses, meaning inspiration or creative influence, apparently also refers to the 9 daughters of Zeus & Mnemosyne, representing poetry, history, love, music, tragedy, hymns, dance, comedy, and astronomy. If this was part of the back-story of the band Muse’s name – I would love them more.
But I digress.
Starting in Los Angeles, a 2 hour drive will take you to Little Denmark, Solvang. I didn’t get to spend all too much time here (just enough time for some Danish pastries and a visit to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum – seeing Little Mermaid printed in different languages!) I hear there’s a vintage motorcycle and Elverhøj Museum that is worth checking out! It’s a good break and another 2 hours will take you to San Simeon where Hearst Castle (“the Enchanted Hill” where once live zoo animals used to roam) lies. I had an amazing dinner experience from Robin’s Restaurant and accommodations from airbnb. The next morning we visited the Elephant Seals and headed toward Monterey (2 hours) before finally reaching San Francisco! :)
2 hour driving increments & happy travels!