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Driving from Los Angeles to Sacramento

Driving from Los Angeles to Sacramento

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I was glancing at my editorial calendar and most of my upcoming posts were kind of heavy topics. While I love writing those, I needed a little break. Because the last months of the year are the busiest in the blogosphere, I had completely forgotten about our drive from Los Angeles to Sacramento over Thanksgiving. The PCH / Highway 1 is so iconic, so I thought I’d share our drive. I also figured that people would continue choosing road trips and domestic travel this year and trip checks all the boxes as far as scenic and worth your while!

First of all, this wasn’t our first time to trek up the 1. We have done it lots of times. (I feel like this gives me street cred and felt it was worth mentioning.) Any time we head away from LA, we will typically try to take the scenic route at least one way (it typically takes longer, depending on the destination). The first time we did the iconic part of route 1 (think Big Sur, Bixby Bridge, etc) was about a year and a half ago on our way to Carmel. This is basically the same route we needed to take again to get to Sacramento, so we decided to make a trip of it. Nick’s parents have lived in Sacramento for the last 10 years, but decided to move to Seattle this year, so it was pretty much the last time we would have to do so before they moved.

Here’s pretty much what our trip looked like:

Tuesday: Left around lunch time to drive from Los Angeles, to Paso Robles. You can make the LA to Sac trip in one day, but we didn’t want to rush it / worry about it. Without traffic LA to Sac is about 400 miles // 6 hours. At peak traffic times, it will probably be more like 8 hours (no thank you!) We love the Paso area and are members of the Epoch Estates wine club, so we decided to do a tasting of the new wines and make an evening of it. We also ate at a new restaurant called The Alchemist’s Garden that was so good! Paso is such a great little wine area, so it’s a great place to stop and see if you are in the area.

Wednesday: We woke up and decided to finish our final leg of the trip from PR to Sacramento. We stopped in Monterey to grab coffee at Captain + Stoker and juice from Perfectly Pressed. If you’re into classic cars, there’s a bodyshop next to the coffee shop that is pretty sweet too. There’s so much to do / see in this area, but since we had been before, we just kept driving to Sacramento. And soon after that… we were there ;)

We stayed in Sacramento until Saturday and then took the 5 straight back!


We took the scenic route, which was highway 1 versus highway 5. If you take the prettier view, it will add about an hour to your trip. If you would rather get there faster, just zip of the 5 and save the 1 for another time. If you can spare the the hour and have some time to stop, definitely take highway 1! The faster way will be a little under 6 hours and the longer way will be more around 7, not including stops or traffic.


A benefit of taking the scenic route is that there is so much to do and see along the way. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Seal Beach

  • The Madonna Inn

  • Hearst Castle

  • Pebble Beach

  • Bixyby Bridge

  • Big Sur (in general)

  • Lucia Lodge (Motel from Ratched on Netflix)

  • Point Lobo State Natural Reserve

  • Paso Robles

  • San Francisco (in general)

  • Napa (in general)


GINGER. I thought I would have a better handle on it since I’ve done it several times, but the roads get windy around Big Sur. Bring some ginger candy and some peppermint oil to assist you. Roll down the windows or bet yet pullover and get some fresh sea air!! It will be a little rough, but the views are worth it. Note that this doesn’t affect Nick / he doesn’t get carsick.

PLAN. There are so many good things to stop and see. If you don’t plan it out, you may run out of time or miss something you would have wanted to see. Put in some time to research!

GAS. There aren’t a lot of gas options on highway one and the ones that are come out pretty pricey. Make sure you are gassed up and ready to go.

STUPID. Don’t be dumb. There are a lot of cool photo opps, but be mindful of your surroundings. Windy turns and fast cars with bumbling pedestrians don’t mix. Your life is not worth a photo.

Of course, don’t forget snacks and water!!

I think that is it! I hope you enjoy your drive. California’s capital is so underrated and has a lot more to offer than just its proximity to other cool locations. Definitely check Sacramento out. Enjoy highway one while you’re at it too! Who knows. Maybe you’ll continue up the coast and end up in Oregon. Have fun and stay safe!

P.S If you liked this post, you’ll probably enjoy these:

Weekend in Paso Roblesο»Ώ

Carmel Travel Guide

Weekend in Lake Arrowhead

Day Trip to Ojai

Solvang Travel Guide

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