Most people I talk to consider the inland Interstate Highway I-5 route to be boring. Though it certainly can be, this freeway has many scenic stretches and many interesting stops.
When you’re driving north, don’t drive straight through. Make a point of stopping to explore this freeway’s wonders. I’ve driven this route countless times and still have a lengthy list of where I want to stop and explore next. If you have the time, plan an overnight somewhere along the way, and take time to get to know that area better.
When driving I-5 south, many people think that the only thing to be said in its favor is that it’s fast. “I hate it,” they say. “It’s hot, flat, and boring.” At times I have to agree, though I have grown to enjoy the spring and fall, when the terrain seems to be most interesting. Did you know that the river running beside the highway is actually the California Aqueduct?
In this section, I use the San Francisco Bay Area as the starting point. It covers Highway 5 north to Oregon–beginning off I-80 along the time-saving I-505, which completely bypasses big and busy Sacramento–and then continues through Oregon in another section. Though Highway 5 continues north through Washington state to the Canadian border, I do not cover that.
This section also covers Highway 5 south into Southern California. It ends where Highway 5 starts entering well-known areas with plenty of facilities–Los Angeles, Disneyland, the beach cities, and San Diego. Did you know that Highway 5 continues on down through Mexico to the tip of South America?
“You learn a lot about someone during a road trip.”
–Kermit the Frog
These listings are just a taste of each area.. They offer an introductory taste, so that you arrive with a few good leads on things to do and places to eat and spend the night. You’ll make many more discoveries as you explore on your own.
Highway 5 North
Highway 5 South
From San Francisco Bay Area north to Oregon
Introduction and Hotels
California Agriculture Museum
First Friday Art Walk
Uvaggio tasting room
The Burger Saloon
Kitchen 428 + Mojo’s Lounge Bar
Ludy’s Main St. BBQ
Lassen Volcanic N.P. and area
Lava Beds National Monument
Shasta Lake Area
Mount Shasta City
Highway 5 South
From San Francisco Bay Area south to Los Angeles and San Diego
Harris Ranch Restaurant
Exit 257. A complex of services appears here after
a particularly desolate stretch of road heading south.
Murray Family Farms
Fort Tejon State Historic Park