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San Diego to Los Angeles Travel Options

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Driving Between San Diego and Los Angeles
If you need to get from San Diego to Los Angeles, you can drive there, take a bus, an airplane or train. This guide can help you pick the best way to make the trip.

Driving from San Diego to Los Angeles

Using either driving route below, you'll encounter a Border Patrol checkpoint along the way. Run by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, they are only on the northbound side of the highway and according to the INS website are directed against "smuggling of illegal aliens and narcotics away from the border area." Most vehicles are waved straight through, but on busy days, some delays can result.

Before you set out, it helps to know the lingo. Use the Los Angeles driving guide to find out what a SigAlert is, rules for Los Angeles carpool lanes and to see an LA freeway map.

Driving from San Diego to Los Angeles on I-5

Distance: 121 miles
Driving Time: 2 to 2.5 hours in good traffic

I-5 north is the most common way to get from San Diego to Los Angeles, passing along the coast with brief glimpses of the Pacific Ocean, through Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base and north through Orange County.

The directions are simple: just get onto I-5 and drive north, branching off onto I-405 if you're headed toward Irvine, Long Beach, the South Bay beach cities or LAX. Stay on I-5 to get to downtown LA.

The I-5 immigration checkpoint is located 7 miles south of the town of San Clemente, just north of Camp Pendleton.

Driving from San Diego to Los Angeles on I-15

Distance: 145 miles
Driving Time: About 2.5 hours in good traffic

I-15 north is the alternative route for your drive from San Diego to Los Angeles. It adds 20 minutes to the trip if there are no traffic jams, but it may have lighter traffic than I-5.

Check the traffic before you set out to determine the best route. If you don't have a mobile device that provides traffic info, Los Angeles radio station KNX 1070 has frequent updates.

Leave San Diego on I-15 north, then follow CA Hwy 60 west. You'll need a map or online directions to find how to reach your specific destination.

The I-15 immigration checkpoint is located between Escondido and Temecula.

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