Pacific Coast Highway: Drive Times and Distances

Drive times and distances on the Pacific Coast Highway or the quickest routes from Seattle to San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego.

Road signs for driving the Pacific Coast Highway

Here are the rough drive times and distances between the main cities along the Pacific Coast Highway. We cover the quickest routes from Seattle to San Francisco, San Francisco to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to San Diego, given in miles and with the approximate driving time it takes. 

We also give the drive time and distance if going along the coast the whole way, which can be very different. They're also optimum times, and take no account of any stops you might want to make, even rest stops, nor any traffic conditions. They assume you are driving at or just under the speed limit the whole way. If your personal driving speed is different from that, you need to take this into account too.

Golden Gate Bridge in San FranciscoGolden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Seattle to San Francisco

Quickest Route
About 800 miles, almost 13 hours without a break

Pacific Coast Highway Route
(Including the Olympic Peninsula)
About 1100 miles, roughly 25 hours of driving

San Francisco to Los Angeles

Quickest Route
About 380 miles, or 6 hours of driving

Pacific Coast Highway Route
About 460 miles, or 9 hours without a break

Combining the two
Note that if you set off from either end along the Pacific Coast Highway then there's no easy place to cut across to the freeway and make up time. What you gain in time you'll lose in getting to the freeway to begin with, as it doesn't run close to the coast.

Highway 101
Although the Pacific Coast Highway and Highway 101 are mostly one and the same, there's a stretch of this route roughly between Salinas and San Luis Obispo when 101 goes inland. Going that way is about 126 miles, or about 2 hours of driving.

Taking the coast route is about 150 miles and will take about 3 hours, as it's a slower route. That's what we've assumed you'll do in the above estimate of 460 miles. So if you really need to, you could shave an hour off your driving time by skipping this bit of the coast.

The Beach in San DiegoThe Beach in San Diego

Los Angeles to San Diego

Note that this drive more than any of the others is affected by traffic, so the exact time taken depends on day of the week, time of day... and luck! The figures below are optimum times, if things run smoothly.

Quickest Route
From Downtown Los Angeles to San Diego is about 120 miles, or 2 hours on a good day. If you want to stick to the coast, then Santa Monica to San Diego is roughly 135 miles, or maybe 2 hours 15 minutes.

Pacific Coast Highway Route
If you really stick to the coast and beaches the whole way, that's going to turn into about 150 miles and take you about four hours, as driving is a lot slower as you pass through every town on the way.

Some other driving pages

  • When to Drive the Pacific Coast Highway

    When to Drive the Pacific Coast Highway depends on whether you want to drive in Oregon and Washington as well as California, and on the weather.

  • West Coast RV Parks

    One of the best guides to West Coast RV Parks, covering campgrounds in California, Oregon, and Washington, is West Coast RV Camping from Moon Guides.

  • Ways to Go

    Here are links to the different ways you can go along the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the most popular drives in the world but you can also cycle it.

  • San Francisco to San Diego

    Driving from San Francisco to San Diego has two main options, the fast way on I-5 or the scenic route along the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • The 17-Mile Drive between Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel takes the 17-Mile Drive from Carmel to Pacific Grove and Monterey, stopping to see the Lone Cypress and beautiful coastline views.

  • Route 66 Meets the Pacific Coast Highway

    Historic Route 66 winds from Chicago to LA, going through Los Angeles, meeting the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, California, at the Santa Monica Pier.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Stops

    Pacific Coast Highway stops include big city vacation destinations like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, and smaller places like Monterey.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Road Trips: Lonely Planet Guidebook Review

    Review of the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trips book from Lonely Planet, which includes a California Driving Guide, by the Pacific Coast Highway Travel website.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel reviews the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide book covering the drive from Vancouver to San Diego.

  • Pacific Coast Highway in California

    The Pacific Coast Highway in California book shows in historic photos the building of the Pacific Coast Highway from its earliest beginnings in 1911.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Driving Tips

    Pacific Coast Highway driving tips for this great American road trip include finding cheap gas, watching the speed limits, and allowing plenty of travel time.

  • Maps of the Pacific Coast Highway: Free Driving Maps of the PCH

    Road maps of the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH are essential for anyone planning to drive the trip, and detailed routes are available for free.

  • LA to Hearst Castle

    Pacific Coast Highway travel offers advice on driving from LA to Hearst Castle, including distance, journey time, and route.

  • Epic Drives of the World

    Epic Drives of the World from Lonely Planet describes 50 of the world's most exciting road trips, including, of course, the Pacific Coast Highway.

  • Driving the Pacific Coast Highway

    Driving the Pacific Coast Highway is made easier with Road Trip USA by Jamie Jensen, a good handbook for the west coast drive.

  • Driving the Pacific Coast Highway in Two Days

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's advice on driving the Pacific Coast Highway in two days, including the best places to stay, and the best things to do and see.

  • Driving the Pacific Coast Highway in Three Days

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's advice on driving the Pacific Coast Highway in three days, including the best places to stay, and the best things to do and see.

  • Driving the Pacific Coast Highway in Four Days

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's advice on driving the Pacific Coast Highway in four days, including the best places to stay, and the best things to do and see.

  • Driving the Pacific Coast Highway in Five Days

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's advice on driving the Pacific Coast Highway in five days, including the best places to stay over, and the best things to do and see.

  • Drive the Pacific Coast Highway

    Here are the basic facts if you plan to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, including which is the best direction and when is the best time to go driving.

  • Coastal California Guidebook

    Lonely Planet's Coastal California guidebook is the ideal travel guide for driving or cycling the Pacific Coast Highway from the Oregon border to Mexico.

  • California Driving Laws

    If visiting California and planning to drive the Pacific Coast Highway it's important to know California driving laws in case they differ from your own state.



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