Distance: 53 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour (up to 1.5 hours or more during morning or afternoon rush hour)
You could take US 101 between San Francisco and San Jose, but I-280 is by far the more scenic route and is recommended unless you're going to the San Francisco Airport or someplace along the peninsula that requires it. You can get onto I-280 directly from US 101 near downtown San Jose.
Following I-280 north, you'll pass through Palo Alto, home of Stanford University, the Stanford Linear Accelerator and Hanna House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright).
Near the intersection of CA 92 and I-280, the San Andreas Fault parallels the highway, creating "sag ponds," depressions in the earth's surface filled by rain water.
No matter which route you choose, tune to KCBS radio (740 AM) for frequent traffic reports, which may help you keep from getting stuck in traffic. If you have Internet access, you can take a look at their traffic maps online.
I-280 passes through the middle of a busy metropolitan area, but few of them are right on the road, and surprisingly few offer gas stations or other businesses close to the highway.