How Far Is San Diego From Los Angeles?

If you’re visiting California and want to experience two bustling cities that provide different cultural experiences, San Diego and Los Angeles are must-see destinations. Fortunately, this day trip is accessible and relatively easy to fit into a vacation timeline. Depending on your route, San Diego and Los Angeles are about 120 miles apart, making it the perfect distance for a day trip from one city to the other. You can reach San Diego from Los Angeles in 2-2 ½ hours. Remember to allot more time if you plan to stop along the way! Along the coast, taking Interstate I-5 will get you there, while inland routes will add another hour of travel time but offer some incredible views. So now that you know your approximate travel time and have planned your route accordingly, it’s time to explore all that San Diego and Los Angeles offer!

Best Route

Nothing beats a road trip for the ultimate California experience, and there’s no better route than the drive from San Diego to Los Angeles. This scenic tour will take you just over two hours depending on traffic. For a truly unique journey with stunning vistas and charming stops, cruise along the Pacific Coast Highway I-5 N and indulge in Southern California’s richness. Enjoy the sea air while taking in the Isla Vista shorelines and rolling hills, and finally, reach Malibu to cap off your adventure. A must-see is San Clemente beach and Santa Monica pier, where you can stroll, swim or just soak in some sun before continuing towards downtown L.A., making countless precious memories.

Don’t Forget About The Traffic

If you are considering a brief visit to San Diego from Los Angeles, be mindful of the time of day and traffic between the two cities. The travel time between the two can take much longer than expected due to city traffic congestion and any other unsettling circumstances that might arise along the journey. It could take up to three hours or occasionally even more, so plan your trip accordingly and account for enough time for what you wish to accomplish during your day trip. However, with proper planning, you can easily make the most of a fun-filled day trip from Los Angeles to San Diego. Click here to check the current traffic from San Diego to Los Angeles.

What To Expect During The Drive

The Pacific Coast Highway offers some of the most beautiful, breathtaking coastal views you will ever encounter. From pastel-colored sunset hues over Montage Laguna Beach to wildflower fields in San Onofre State Park, the sights along this roadside journey will leave you spellbound. One must-see location is Moro Canyon/Crystal Cove State Park near Laguna Beach – framed by rugged mountain heights and shimmering bays, this landscape begs to be explored. With its stunning beaches, coves, and lagoons, Laguna Beach truly stands out as a star jewel of Orange County. 

Highway 1 is a beautiful drive, and although you can’t expect to experience the same grandeur of Big Sur along the trip, there are still plenty of sights to take in. Enjoy the smaller coastal towns such as Huntington Beach, which are well-kept. Expect to encounter more traffic when zigzagging through these places at slower speeds, so it’s worth budgeting in additional time just in case. Generally speaking, the 124 mile-journey would take 3 hours under ideal conditions. Still, with short visits and stops for pictures, I recommend allowing 4 to 6 hours to get there stress-free and enjoy your time.

What We Recommend 

To get the most out of your journey from Los Angeles to San Diego, plan to stay on Interstate I-5 as much as possible while exploring the coast. The most scenic area of this drive is between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, and you can access it by exiting I-5 at Santa Ana (Exit 103) and then taking CA-55 S, State Route 73, and Newport Coast Road. Although the trip will still be considerable, you can reach San Diego in the afternoon and leisurely explore Highway 1. Along the way, make stops at Huntington Beach for its stunning pier, great for surfing, beautiful Newport Beach (made famous by The O.C.), or enchanting Laguna Beach. End your day near La Jolla, where the incredible San Diego skyline awaits!

Stops You Should Make 

Orange County is a great place to explore if you’re looking for something off the beaten path! From charming downtowns and rolling hills to wildlife refuges and picturesque petite towns, there are plenty of hidden gems that people don’t usually think of when they think of the OC. Taking I-5 through North County and heading North from the main route, you can discover various attractions from Mission Viejo to San Clemente! There are outdoor activities like hiking or beachcombing in Crystal Cove State Park and many fun cultural attractions like art galleries and museums in Laguna Beach. Making just a few detours along this majestic highway unlocks a wealth of sights, sounds, and memories you won’t forget!

From Los Angeles to San Clemente: Orange County

Inspired by the American Dream, Disneyland in Anaheim is renowned as the epicenter of childhood dreams. And it certainly lives up to this reputation! This fantastic theme park deserves a full-day visit and must be excluded from any short stops between Los Angeles and San Diego.  But there are still plenty of nearby attractions that warrant a visit. Orange County’s Old Towne presents a unique chance for anyone interested in history to explore its multi-cultural, historic buildings. The Richard Nixon Library is a testament to the life of one of America’s most famous – and controversial – presidents. Those with an adventurous side will adore the Far West-themed areas of Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park, while futuristic architecture can be found in Garden Grove and Costa Mesa. If you want to stay overnight while exploring Orange County, follow our link below for recommended accommodation options!

From San Clemente to San Diego: North County

The last stretch of I-5 between San Clemente and San Diego is worth a visit, even if you aren’t desperate for attractions. Along the way, Del Mar, Leucadia, and Encinitas are excellent options for an exciting detour, as these towns offer delightful waterfront clubs, tranquil streets, and local flavors to explore. As much as Carlsbad calls out with its world-famous Legoland California theme park, it’s important to note that it cannot be covered in a quick stop like this. If you want to experience the culture, then Oceanside makes the perfect spot. Not only famed for its U.S Navy Base but also famous amongst surfers, this part of town was home to the San Luis Rey de Francia Mission – one of the numerous impressive Missions on the Camino Real.

Transportation From Los Angeles to San Diego

If you want to get from Los Angeles to San Diego and don’t own a car, don’t fret! Plenty of other options are available so you can make the trip easily. Consider taking a bus or train ride through Amtrak. You can travel at your convenience with over a dozen stops along the route. Flying is also an option, but if you’d prefer not to fly, consider taking an auto rideshare with Uber, Lyft, or a local cab company. Whichever option you choose, the City of Angels will soon have you basking in the sun at the beaches in beautiful San Diego.


Taking the train from Los Angeles to San Diego can be an attractive and economical alternative for those looking to avoid long hours behind the wheel. Every day, there are 12 departures between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm, so travelers have plenty of options. The journey time is estimated at 2 hours and 40 minutes, leaving enough time for exploration along California’s scenic coastal route. Ticket prices range on average from $35 to $54 per person, providing an affordable solution for anyone wishing to cover the distance between these two southern California cities without driving it themselves.


Planning a trip from Los Angeles to San Diego is worth considering taking the bus. It can be more cost-effective than other alternatives, such as taking a plane or driving, and you can calculate approximately how much money you might save by using this method. Furthermore, given that the bus ride is about two hours and forty minutes long, you may have some extra time to take in the beautiful scenery along the way without worrying about navigating around traffic or unfamiliar routes. Taking the bus from Los Angeles to San Diego will be easier on your wallet and stress levels!


A flight from Los Angeles to San Diego is a great way to cross the California border with minimal hassle. Whether planning a short business trip or just needing to get over for a weekend of sun, a plane ride is quick and convenient – and could be more cost-effective than you think! With daily direct flights from LAX to SAN, airlines like United offer options that land early morning or mid-evening. That saves you time by not needing an overnight stay away from home. Plus, if you take advantage of special offers ahead of time, flying can be a budget-friendly alternative compared to ground transportation costs. All in all, jetting across the state has never been easier!


If you’re looking for a reliable, efficient, and stress-free way of traveling from Los Angeles to San Diego, then Uber or Lyft Rideshares are the perfect solutions. Not only do they save you the hassle of coordinating public transportation or renting a car, but they also offer friendly drivers who can be your local guide during the journey and provide helpful tips on where to find interesting places in your destination city. To make it even better, signing up for these services is simple and fast – just download the relevant app and register an account to get started!

Thanks For Reading!

Moving to a new city is an exciting venture, and Los Angeles and San Diego are two of California’s finest. Whether you’re driving from one to the other or simply would like to have space for storage between them, SecureSpace Self Storage is here to help.  We have convenient locations across California that offer unbeatable personal service, ensuring your experience is hassle-free. Moreover, our flexible monthly rental options mean you can ensure that your storage suits your needs exactly. So, whether you’re just making a quick weekend trip from LA to SD or need reliable storage, SecureSpace Self Storage has you covered. Thanks for reading our article on how far Los Angeles is from San Diego we hope it answered any questions you may have had!

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