How To Travel From Los Angeles To San Diego Via Public Transit (1 Viewer)

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Austin, TX
I'm not a fan of Los Angeles. It takes forever to get anywhere, it's hard to find a place to camp, and the people there generally have a bad attitude. No offense to people in LA, maybe it's great if you know people there, but I prefer to bypass that area of the country as fast as possible.

Unfortunately, I'm also generally broke as hell, so with the help of a friend of mine, I put together this guide on how to get from LA to San Diego as cheaply as possible, thus bypassing most of the hell hole that is Southern California.!2m2!1d-117.1610838!2d32.715738!3e3

This guide will take you from Hollywood, CA to Alpine, CA where you can hitch to places beyond if you like. If you're coming from farther out, it might be possible to take buses from as far out as Santa Barbara, but I haven't tried this. I happened to get a Craigslist rideshare from SF to Hollywood when I traveled this route via bus to San Diego last week, so this is just my personal experience. As long as you can get to the Hollywood area, you can take this route for as little as $9.50.

Part One: Hollywood, CA to Long Beach, CA

Take the Metro Red Line towards Union Station and get off at the 7th Street / Metro Center Station. Transfer here to the Metro Blue Line going towards Long Beach (cost: $1.50). Get off at 6th and Long Beach Blvd. Take 94 bus eastbound to 7th st and Channel Dr (cost: $1.50). Check out this step-by-step PDF here. Total cost thus far, $3.00.

Part Two: Long Beach, CA to San Clemente, CA
Take the #1 bus from 7th and Channel Dr to the end of the line in San Clemente, CA (cost: $1.50). There's a Carl's Jr next to the bus stop here. Check out this PDF file for full details. If you started this trip early enough in the day you can continue to the next step. If not, the last bus runs from here around 7pm. There's a fun place to camp here:

Total cost thus far: $4.50.

Part Three: San Clemente, CA to Oceanside, CA via Camp Pendleton
Take route 395 towards Oceanside. I recommend buying the San Diego transit day pass ($5.00) on this bus since that pass alone will take you all the way to Alpine, CA (see below) or anywhere in the San Diego area once you get there, and in the end will only cost you about $0.25 more than paying for each part separately. The most important thing to know about traveling through Camp Pendleton is that a valid ID is required to enter the base, and since this bus route goes straight through it, you'll be screwed if you don't have it. This is the only place I've ever seen a situation like this on a bus route, but then again, I don't generally make a habit of traveling through marine bases. Check out the official North County Transit District PDF with route map and schedule here.

Finally, Oceanside has a great little deli right by the Transit Station that will let you buy a sandwich with food stamps. The library is pretty nice as well.

Part Four: Oceanside, CA to San Diego, CA
This part is pretty easy. Just take the #101 bus from the Oceanside Transit Center to the UTC Transit Center in San Diego. This route has some awesome ocean scenery, and with the day pass you'll have plenty of opportunities get off the bus and enjoy the sunny beaches. If San Diego is your destination, congratulate yourself, you just covered over 120 miles for $9.50. If you're interested in getting even farther east and on your way off the California coast, continue to the last step below.

Part Five: San Diego, CA to Alpine, CA ...and beyond!
This last part of the route is really only if you're looking to get anywhere east of San Diego by hitchhiking. The good news is that with the San Diego day pass you bought in San Clemente, you can easily get another 30 miles outside the city to a spot that is much easier to hitchhike from. Just take the #41 bus from the UTC Transit Center to the Fashion Valley Transit Center, then take the Green Line towards Santee. Get off at the El Cajon station and transfer to the #864 bus to Alpine, CA. Keep in mind that the #864 does not run on Sundays. Get off the bus at Alpine Blvd & Tavern Rd, and walk up to the on ramp on Tavern Rd. From here you can hitchhike anywhere east. This is a nice area with a really good amount of traffic going by, room for cars to pull over, and plenty of places to sleep in the trees. There's also decent dumpsters you can get food from here. Here's the PDF file I created of this route with full details.


This method of travel isn't without its shortcomings (it takes a long time), but if you're stupid broke and need to get the hell out of Los Angeles or San Diego, it's the best way to go. For your convenience I've created a series of PDF files that detail the route from beginning to end and will guide you through each step of this adventure. Download them below and print them out before you start your journey!

Do you know of convenient short cuts through other parts of the country? If so, post an article and share them with us!


Last edited:
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Feb 29, 2012
Houston, United States
hitching out of a city is a bitchso usually public transportation like a local bus or commuter train not greyhound or amtrak(never had money for these) can get you to the outskirts where you can hitch or catch up with other local transportation, it works better and somtimes only if you are in a populated area that has these priveliges. sometimes its sleeping on the roadside and continuing on thumbing it. where this is sounds pretty easy to get around.

Desperado Deluxe

Wise Sage
Apr 20, 2010
Thanks matt I was wondering where this article went. I have been thinking about writing an article on how to take the bus systems around CA and connect it to this article. The only problem is I haven't sat my ass down at a desktop to do it. [emoji13]


Oct 21, 2015
Taunton, MA
I agree totally with your feelings on socal. I wont be sad if I never see it again. I ended up hiking the tracks to sneak through pendalton. It takes you to a bike path but its a bitch of a hike. I basically walked to LA.


Nov 6, 2014
Foresthill, United States
This route works out well, I used it going up and down from San Diego to LA. Very dependable ::angelic::
Prices are a little higher now, but you won't spend over 15 bucks.
If you get a tap card in LA the bus ride from long beach to San Clemente is free.
It should also be noted that the camp outside the San Clemente bus stop is a little blown up. you can sleep behind the dumpsters, or kip out in the portapotty:D.
The 101 that goes to Oceanside front university city doesn't run on the weekends. So be prepared for that.


Mar 28, 2017
Lancaster California
BTW, a tip to anyone trying to get around the city of LA. While I must emphasize that you can be fined for this, you don't actually need to pay to use the subway system in Los Angeles. the metro rail has terminals where you tap your "tap card" on and then walk through, but if you hold any old blue colored card in your hand and walk through the gate acting like you should be there then the security won't ask any questions. It's all automated so there's no security at the terminals. there are often workers and sometimes even police in the stations, but the terminals are fine. If you get approached because you look lost or confused just say you can't find the bathroom, you'll lose the guards. Even the terminals you encounter when entering Union Station from the red line don't need a tap card, they look like they lock up on anyone who doesn't tap a valid card, but it's just a deterrent. Just be careful to not draw any attention to yourself and you should be good. half of the train ride I was sitting directly next to two police officers and I just put in headphones and played on my phone. never suspected a thing and I got across the city for free. As an added bonus, if you can stay close to a large group of people while passing through terminals (should be fairly easy to do when on the main lines such as the red, blue, and purple) it makes it nearly impossible to tell that you didn't tap a valid card.

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