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Old 02-04-2020, 09:06 PM
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Easiest way from LAX to San Diego?


We're thinking about holiday options and one would be to go to Southern California.

If we landed at LAX, what would be the easiest way to get to San Diego?
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:29 PM
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If youíre going to SoCal, renting a car is pretty much mandatory. So just drive to San Diego.
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:38 PM
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If driving, the 405 s to the 5 s is pretty much your only option. Try to avoid rush hour, which is like 7am-9:30am and 3:30-7:00pm.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:20 PM
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You can go into downtown LA and then catch a train or a Greyhound bus, but it's going to take you four hours or more.
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Old 02-05-2020, 02:07 AM
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You can go into downtown LA and then catch a train or a Greyhound bus, but it's going to take you four hours or more.
Depending on the time of day that drive could also take 4+ hours.

With no delays, the train from union station to downtown San Diego should only take ~2.5 hours. However, due to the single track sections in northern San Diego County, there are often delays.

Public transportation sucks here; do yourselves a favor and rent a car at LAX.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:19 AM
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The easiest way is to fly. Jet shuttles are fast. Helicopter charters aren't cheap but you didn't mention budget. Next easiest would be to get someone to haul you on the ground - shuttle van, Lyft, etc. Cheapest is a car rental. Prepare for legendary traffic. And see this: There are 5 ways to get from Los Angeles Airport (LAX) to San Diego by plane, train, bus or car
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Old 02-07-2020, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by snfaulkner View Post
If driving, the 405 s to the 5 s is pretty much your only option.
I prefer (from LAX):
- 105 east
- 605 south
- 405 south
- 5

As to the OP, renting a car and driving will be the most convenient. And you'll want a car in San Diego anyway.
There are commuter flights from LAX to San Diego, but depending on who you're flying in to LAX, you may need to change terminals (haul bags) to take a commuter flight.
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Old 02-07-2020, 02:13 PM
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If you drive, there are really only two ways. The one mentioned above, and that same route but taking the 73 toll road through central Orange County, to bypass 405 before connecting to 5. Usually the toll road by-pass doesn't make a whole lot of difference. Only if there's some real mess on 405 is it worth the charge, though it is more "scenic."

I find that when going to San Diego, sometimes the biggest delays are in Camp Pendleton, for some reason, and there's no way around that. Occasionally, around holidays like Thanksgiving, there are so many traffic problems on that route that it might actually be faster to go inland to the 15, etc. Just use Google Maps when you're leaving LAX to see.

But since you'll be on holiday, you might consider taking the train, (and then renting a car in San Diego), because it's more relaxing, and for much of the way it goes right along the ocean. There's a bus that goes from LAX to Union Station in downtown L.A. about every half hour or so. Just remember that if you want to be on the ocean side of the train, that will be the east side of the train as it waits in the station, because the train makes a complete 180 while pulling out of the station.
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Old 02-07-2020, 03:59 PM
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I was going to suggest renting a helicopter, but perhaps that's not the best idea.
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Old 02-07-2020, 04:53 PM
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I was going to suggest renting a helicopter, but perhaps that's not the best idea.
The days of scheduled passenger chopper services around southern California have passed. I rode one in 1965. I think they all ceased operations by the 1980s.
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Old 02-07-2020, 05:53 PM
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I was going to suggest renting a helicopter, but perhaps that's not the best idea.
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The days of scheduled passenger chopper services around southern California have passed. I rode one in 1965. I think they all ceased operations by the 1980s.
I believe you've been whooshed.
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Old 02-07-2020, 06:29 PM
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Renting a car is definitely the best answer. If you fly down to SD, you pretty much have to rent a car to get around anyway. Are you planning spending a couple of days, or just a day trip? (A day trip to San Diego is gonna be a long day with a lot of time likely spent in heavy traffic)
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Old 02-07-2020, 06:34 PM
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Drove to SD this Xmas to meet family there. Left North Hollywood at 11:00 am. Arrived 3 hours 58 minutes later at SD airport, picking up relatives. Usually takes less than three hours. This was the Saturday before Xmas.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:24 PM
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I believe you've been whooshed.
I previously mentioned chartering choppers since OP didn't specify budget. I did see ads for chopper shuttles between a few area airports (Burbank-LAX-Orange) but not as far as San Diego.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:36 PM
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I previously mentioned chartering choppers since OP didn't specify budget. I did see ads for chopper shuttles between a few area airports (Burbank-LAX-Orange) but not as far as San Diego.
But there are commercial flights from LAX to San Diego. So technically the easiest way to get there from LAX is to get on a plane.

I'm not clear on if the OP is planning on spending time in both Los Angeles and San Diego, or only San Diego. If it's the latter, just fly into SAN and save yourself the hassle of having to get there from LAX. If you planning on visiting both cities anyway, fly into LAX, rent a car do whatever you want to do in Los Angeles, drive to San Diego and do see what you want to see there, then fly home from SAN.

Last edited by WildaBeast; 02-07-2020 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:41 PM
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But there are commercial flights from LAX to San Diego. So technically the easiest way to get there from LAX is to get on a plane.

I'm not clear on if the OP is planning on spending time in both Los Angeles and San Diego, or only San Diego. If it's the latter, just fly into SAN and save yourself the hassle of having to get there from LAX. If you planning on visiting both cities anyway, fly into LAX, rent a car do whatever you want to do in Los Angeles, drive to San Diego and do see what you want to see there, then fly home from SAN.
It's probably cheaper to fly into LAX. Or it was back in like 2009 when I traveled a lot for work.
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Old 02-07-2020, 10:10 PM
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You can go into downtown LA and then catch a train or a Greyhound bus, but it's going to take you four hours or more.
Don't take a Greyhound bus. Just don't.

The train to San Diego is a nice ride once you get out of the industrial sector southeast of L.A., say, past Anaheim or at least Fullerton. Try to find a seat on the right side going south because the route runs along the coast for much of the way; at some points practically on the beach itself.

If you drive, as snfaulkner says, the 405 to the 5 is indeed your only option, but you'll be starting south of the worst L.A. traffic.

Another possible option might be to fly directly into San Diego (SAN). There was a time when just a handful of airlines flew into SAN and most of those flights were from other places in California, but today there are incoming flights from all over, including a daily BA flight from London, last I checked.

Having lived in both L.A. and the San Diego, I think the latter is probably more tourist friendly.
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Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 02-07-2020 at 10:11 PM.
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Old 02-08-2020, 01:20 AM
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I don't know exactly where you live, but I looked at YYZ>LAX and YYZ>SAN. The prices aren't so terribly different, and I recommend avoiding LAX whenever possible.
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Old 02-08-2020, 01:27 AM
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Where are you coming from?

Some flights will take you directly to Lindbergh Field or even to the Palomar airport in Carlsbad. If you're coming from outside the USA and LAX is your closest international airport other than Lindbergh (which is "international" mostly because flights from south of the US Border link there), consider a connecting flight to take you to Lindbergh or Palomar.

Where do you plan to visit?
LegoLand? SafariLand? Palomar is closer.
Zoo/Sea World/Balboa Park/Museums/Baseball? Lindbergh is closer.


--Wait, wait...Piper? Aren't you the one who flies a personal plane (or is that another doper)?
Also look into Gillespie, Brown, and Montgomery fields.




When to you expect to land at LAX?
Driving from LA to San Diego in the middle of the day in the middle of the week is going to require hours, lots of gas, and tons of patience. Driving in the early hours of the morning and/or on weekends is faster, but not necessarily easier, depending on your diurnal clock.


--G!

Last edited by Grestarian; 02-08-2020 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 02-08-2020, 01:34 AM
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The easiest way is to rent a car and find something to do in El Segundo until 8pm. After that it’s 70mph all the way to SD.
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Old 02-08-2020, 02:28 AM
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Do you have to fly into LAX? If not, why not fly directly into San Diego?
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Old 02-08-2020, 02:38 AM
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If you're coming from outside the USA and LAX is your closest international airport other than Lindbergh (which is "international" mostly because flights from south of the US Border link there), consider a connecting flight to take you to Lindbergh or Palomar.
Ten or 15 years ago, SAN didn't offer any overseas nonstops, but today it has nonstops to the UK, Japan, Switzerland and Germany, plus Mexico and Canada.

Not too bad for such a small airport that will always be in the shadow of LAX (and SFO).
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Old 02-08-2020, 04:00 AM
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Piper hasn't responded so I'll just guess he has good reasons to fly into LAX, not directly to SAN. Maybe time, or cost, or a traveling companion is staying in L.A. Upthread, I linked to a site with LAX-SAN options. My work is done.
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Old 02-08-2020, 09:21 AM
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The easiest way is to rent a car and find something to do in El Segundo until 8pm. After that it’s 70mph all the way to SD.
The problem with that is that there's never anything to do in El Segundo.
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Old 02-08-2020, 09:30 AM
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You could look for my wallet. I think I left it where I ate some enchiladas.
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Old 02-08-2020, 09:33 AM
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Try to find a seat on the right side going south because the route runs along the coast for much of the way . . .
Yes but, as I said above, the right side is going to be the EAST side when you board the train, because it leaves the station going north and then makes a complete 180. Someone who is not familiar with the station might not realize this, (though if they look around before boarding they could figure it out).
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Old 02-08-2020, 09:33 AM
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The problem with that is that there's never anything to do in El Segundo.
People think that because of the refinery stacks and the aircraft noise, but it has one of those downtowns that you find in most of the older towns swallowed up in the LA sprawl post WWII. A decent selection of non-chain eateries and drinking holes. Iím not sure if the silent movie theater is still in business, but that would be a great way to kill a few hours.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:22 AM
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If driving, the 405 s to the 5 s is pretty much your only option. Try to avoid rush hour, which is like 7am-9:30am and 3:30-7:00pm.
There is no rush hour. I've been stopped more than once at 2am on a weekend. I'll admit a little schadenfreude at seeing people in the FastTrak lane also sitting only paying for the privilege.
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Old 02-08-2020, 12:24 PM
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People think that because of the refinery stacks and the aircraft noise, but it has one of those downtowns that you find in most of the older towns swallowed up in the LA sprawl post WWII. A decent selection of non-chain eateries and drinking holes. I’m not sure if the silent movie theater is still in business, but that would be a great way to kill a few hours.
I have to agree with this. Just turn south on Sepulveda or Aviation, turn right on Imperial, and in a few minutes you're in El Segundo proper. Lot's of nice casual dining in El Segundo, most of them are local, not chains. And if you don't like the small middle America vibe of El Segundo, continue west to the beach, go south a few minutes and you're in Manhattan Beach, then Hermosa Beach, then Redondo Beach. Lot's of beachside dining options and you're never more than 10 minutes from the freeway.

If you are going to drive, I always recommend downloading the Sigalert app. It gives you an overview of all the freeways' conditions so you can judge when to leave (avoiding the 2AM jams).

Last edited by peccavi; 02-08-2020 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 02-09-2020, 01:36 AM
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There is no rush hour. I've been stopped more than once at 2am on a weekend. I'll admit a little schadenfreude at seeing people in the FastTrak lane also sitting only paying for the privilege.
That's why I warned against "legendary traffic". The holding pattern can last for days. That's why I motorcycled there. Just watch for folks using pistols as turn signals.
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Old 02-09-2020, 07:26 PM
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Ten or 15 years ago, SAN didn't offer any overseas nonstops, but today it has nonstops to the UK, Japan, Switzerland and Germany, plus Mexico and Canada.



Not too bad for such a small airport that will always be in the shadow of LAX (and SFO).
I used SAN when I was a student at UCSD, and back then it was a small podunk airport with a couple of small concourses, and the intra-California airline PSA was overwhelmingly the biggest operator. It wasn't big enough to have jet bridges, and boarded and deplaned via the old fashioned airstair.

The next time I flew out of there was two and a half years ago and I was amazed at how much it had grown. And, as always, how crowded the concourses are these days, considering that they no longer allow visitors.

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Old 02-11-2020, 05:46 AM
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But since you'll be on holiday, you might consider taking the train, (and then renting a car in San Diego), because it's more relaxing, and for much of the way it goes right along the ocean. There's a bus that goes from LAX to Union Station in downtown L.A. about every half hour or so. Just remember that if you want to be on the ocean side of the train, that will be the east side of the train as it waits in the station, because the train makes a complete 180 while pulling out of the station.
Itís been over a decade since I was there, but if you enjoy walking, you can do San Diego, at least the central bit, on foot or in a combination of foot, taxi and train. From the train station in downtown, youíre pretty much on top of the USS Midway (aircraft carrier) Museum. Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo arenít too far away. South of the train station is the Gaslamp Quarter where a lot of the bars, restaurants and entertainment is. Sea World and Mission Bay are probably too far to walk, but public transport might be an option and taxis will be easier and cheaper than a rental car. If you want to go to Tijuana (not my recommendation, but there is the novelty factor), itís reachable by train and a walk across the border. You can also get to the northern beaches from downtown via train.
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Old 02-11-2020, 06:07 AM
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I previously mentioned chartering choppers since OP didn't specify budget. I did see ads for chopper shuttles between a few area airports (Burbank-LAX-Orange) but not as far as San Diego.
I suspect dolphinboy was referencing the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash.
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Old 02-11-2020, 11:32 AM
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The next time I flew out of there was two and a half years ago and I was amazed at how much it had grown. And, as always, how crowded the concourses are these days, considering that they no longer allow visitors.
Admittedly I've never actually flown to or from SAN, so I have no personal experience with the airport, but from everything I've read San Diego desperately needs a new airport. The problem is that with the mountains surrounding the city there really isn't any viable place to build one.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:21 PM
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....
I'm not clear on if the OP is planning on spending time in both Los Angeles and San Diego, or only San Diego. If it's the latter, just fly into SAN and save yourself the hassle of having to get there from LAX. If you planning on visiting both cities anyway, fly into LAX, rent a car do whatever you want to do in Los Angeles, drive to San Diego and do see what you want to see there, then fly home from SAN.
We did exactly this, some years back. The rental car didn't even have a surcharge; I guess they get a lot of cars transiting both ways between those airports.

But yeah, I'd definitely suggest flying into San Diego if that's the main point of your trip, all else being equal (convenient flights, similar fares etc.).
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