Video Message

Main Content

Your Guide to San Diego Freeways

San Diego Freeway

San Diego has everything you need – and a few things you can do without, including rush hour traffic. The metro has one of the most developed road systems in California. But as the population grows, traffic has also become an issue particularly around the employment centers of Downtown, the Golden Triangle, Sorrento Valley, and others.

Whether you’re driving to work or places to visit in San Diego, it helps to know about the metro’s freeways to help you plan your trips and avoid the worst


Interstate 5: The San Diego Freeway

San Diego’s largest freeway, Interstate 5, or simply The 5, runs from the International Border between Mexico and San Ysidro to Camp Pendleton north of San Diego County. It passes through the metro’s major destinations, including Downtown San Diego, Chula Vista, La Jolla, Sorrento Valley, Carlsbad, and Oceanside.

As the major coastal thoroughfare in the county, The 5 is one of the most used freeways here. It’s busy any time of the day but especially during rush hour. The bottleneck points in the morning are around Pacific Beach if you’re northbound and from Cannon Road to Lomas Santa Fe Drive if you’re southbound. In the evening, it starts getting worse a little after La Jolla if you’re going north, and just about everywhere from Sorrento Valley to Chula Vista heading south.

Interstate 8: Ocean Beach Freeway or Kumeyaay Highway

San Diego’s main east-west thoroughfare, I-8 includes one of the busiest stretches in the region – the area around the I-805 and I-15 interchanges. I-8 starts west at Point Loma, passes through Mission Valley and the suburbs of La Mesa and El Cajon, then runs eastward to the county’s backcountry and into Imperial County. If you leave early enough in the morning, you just might avoid the westbound crawl from El Cajon to Mission Valley.

Interstate 15: Escondido Freeway or Avocado Highway

I-15 is an important route for residents of the Escondido, San Diego, and Poway suburbs commuting to the job-dense areas of Downtown San Diego, Sorrento Valley, and Mission Valley. This inland freeway enters San Diego at Inland Empire in the north and ends at I-5 in the South Bay. While generally free of bottlenecks, you can hit a snag at the area near the start of I-163 around Miramar and Scripps Poway Parkway. There’s a High Occupancy Vehicle carpool lane along the freeway; you could pay a toll if you use the lane while driving without passengers.

Interstate 805: The Jacob Dekema Freeway or Inland Freeway

I-805 is the inland counterpart of I-5, providing an alternate north-south route through San Diego, Chula Vista, and National City. With the growth of the communities and businesses in the South Bay, as well as on the northern part of the route, the I-805 has become one of the busiest freeways in the county, especially at the split with the I-5. One relief from this extremely busy stretch is the bridge across Mission Valley, where you can enjoy some really scenic views.

State Route 163: Cabrillo Freeway

Connecting I-5 in Downtown San Diego with I-15 in Kearny Mesa, California 163 passes through Balboa Park, making it a real scenic route. It starts as a four-lane highway at Downtown then expands into eight lanes at Mission Valley. As the main route from Downtown to I-15, traffic congestion is an all-day affair.

State Route 52: The Soledad Freeway

California 52 starts from I-5 at the foothills of Mount Soledad and runs eastward toward California 125 in Santee. An alternative to I-8, it passes through Soledad Canyon, forming the bottom of University Town Center, Kearny Misa, and the southern boundary of Mira Mar. In the morning, westbound traffic starts getting congested at La Jolla, and the reverse happens in the afternoon.

State Route 56: Ted Williams Freeway

Serving only the City of San Diego, California 56 breaks off from I-5, runs northeastward and ends at I-15 in Rancho Penasquitos. Traffic here is also crawling at rush hour, but is the earliest to clear before or after, so it’s a good route to take if you can leave home early and work late, or if you’re taking your sweet time visiting Downtown San Diego attractions.

State Route 78: Packard Freeway

California 78 serves the North Country, starting at I-5 in Oceanside and ending at I-15 in Escondido. It’s the primary east-west thoroughfare in the North Country so traffic can get truly backed-up, especially at the on-ramp to and from I-15. If you’re truly in a rush, it’s best to take an alternate route.

Navigating San Diego’s busy streets may take some time to master, but the great lifestyle and opportunities in the metro make it all worthwhile. To learn more about living here, don’t hesitate to call me. Get in touch with Max Mervis of at 619.980.8385 or max(at)sandiegohighrises(dotted)com for the best and latest listings.