I see you moved you message from the San Francisco forum as suggested.
However, you put it in the "California Desert" forum instead of the general "California Forum". It is not like to be seen here, as this forum has little traffic. Sorry, but I suggest you move it again, to the "California Forum".
End December - limited daylight hours, tule fog possible/more likely during the morning hours in the Central Valley, snow in the mountains....
Assuming this is a drive for adults, I'd leave SF early and head directly to Monterey, then make a more leisurely drive down Hwy 1 to Cambria for the night. Then I'd drive across the state of California into Nevada. There are a few folks who offer good road info for this route.
If you want more of a 'get there' kind of route, drive down I-5 and stay in Bakersfield. No real scenery, nice stops, or views along this route.
Did you look at the airfare for a flight? Southwest Airlines is a good option. Since you don't need a car in SF, I'm wondering if you're picking it up after your visit to the City just to drive to Las Vegas. A flight will give you great views of the snowy Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Adding ... I went ahead and replied here, since you're really trying to find the right place. If the folks with great cross-California driving routes don't find your thread here, I'll ask them to pop in. Or you can delete this one and repost again. Your choice! Somehow we'll find your thread and offer ideas.Edited: 28 November 2011, 03:10
Welcome to the TA forum Walter. As you may have seen, there is a wealth of information about this very trip on the TA forums. You can just search for this trip. You will also see trip reports from other travelers.
Here is a link to a couple of posts
Since you have not said where else and what else you are doing and visiting, perhaps a drive along the coast or Highway 1 from SF to Cambria would be pretty and you can then cut across to go to Las Vegas. It is winter in CA and NV so you may run into rain and perhaps snowy conditions in the Sierras so the coastal route (which has it own issues during the rain) may be a better way to go.
Hello, Walter, and welcome to TripAdvisor and the California Desert forum.
If you have the time, and are able to do so, I'd arrange my itinerary for California State Route 1 through Big Sur along the Pacific Ocean coastline south of Monterey. I'd stay at either San Simeon or Cambria. Cambria has more choices in lodging and restaurants, but both of these places are close to each other.
Places I'd stop at along the way (north to south): the Bixby Bridge, which is quite scenic and iconic, Nepenthe, for the ocean view and the restroom break, McWay Falls, which is a beautiful 80 foot long waterfall that tumbles into a lagoon in the Pacific Ocean - half mile hike available to get close to it, or view it from the highway, Ragged Point for the beautiful views of the ocean, and the Elephant Seal Rookery. The rest is negotiable. Make sure if you get 5 or more cars behind you to pull over and let them pass. This is a California State Vehicle Code law. Get up as early as you can in the morning, and leave about 7:00 AM so as to get to see all of this in daylight. Night comes quickly in the colder months, and this is no place to drive in at night due to the winding curves and switchbacks that contain blind curves ahead.
Cambria (or San Simeon) to Las Vegas would be my next leg of the trip. Do stop by in San Luis Obispo for Madonna Inn, which is a rather eclecticly decorated hotel. The men's restroom in the lobby area - downstairs and to the right of the lobby area - is rather different than any you'll ever see. Use it first for yourself, then allow your female companions - if any - to view it afterwards, when the coast is clear. This happens all the time due to the fact of this restroom being so unique. You'll thank me afterwards for the tip! (smile)
You don't have to go through Los Angeles to get to Las Vegas this way. Take US 101 south to Ventura, then CA Route 126 to Santa Paula and Valencia/Santa Clarita, then Interstate 5 south to CA Route 14/Antelope Valley Freeway, then in Mojave take CA Route 58 east to Barstow and Interstate 15 east to Las Vegas. This skirts the LA metro area, which can potentially save you some time, and stress. Your choice.
Should you not want to take CA Route 1, US Route 101 south of San Jose would be my recommended route. Tule Fog, a thick, pea souplike potentially dangerous fog that can come up on you very quickly during the morning hours and at night, exists along Interstate 5, but not along US Route 101 (because it is closer to the ocean). Stay at San Luis Obispo at a lodging of your choice would be my recommendation here.
Just wondering why you would want to drive. Flying would be a great way to go. Southwest Airlines has many flights to and from San Francisco and Las Vegas daily. The views of the Sierra Nevadas in the late Autumn and Winter with snow on the mountains would be a great thing to view from the air, imho.
Thank you for the great tips and kind response. We have paid for the car rental from San Diego to San Francisco to Las Vegas to Grand Canyon and down to LA lasting about 2 weeks. So flights are out in our itinerary. We will be taking the coastal route from SD to San Francisco.Your suggestion to take the 101 route to get to Las Vegas via Ventura route is great. Thanks a million ! Now I know that the saying "Californians are the kindest folks" really is true.
I really appreciate all the responses to my querry and thank you all for enlightening me.
Fog and snow can slow you down indeed.