Interstate 5

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Interstate 5 North - Northern San Diego County

Interstate 5 Highway Guides

Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway north
This mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits along northbound: Exit 34, Del Mar Heights Road; Exit 36, Junction San Diego County Route S-6/Via de la Valle; and Exit 37, Junction San Diego County Route S-8/Lomas Santa Fe Drive. The original high occupancy vehicle lanes were placed between Interstate 805 and Del Mar Heights Road; they have since been extended to Via de la Valle in Del Mar/Solana Beach. Photo taken 05/22/04.
The next exit along northbound Interstate 5 after Carmel Valley Road (Exit 33B) is Exit 34, Del Mar Heights Road east to Carmel Valley and west to the city of Del Mar. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 34, Del Mar Heights Road. Use Del Mar Heights Road east to the Carmel Valley community of the city of San Diego, while westbound Del Mar Heights Road leads into the small city of Del Mar along the coast. Photo taken 01/14/07.
This mileage sign provides the distance to next three exits along northbound Interstate 5: Exit 36, Via de la Valle; Exit 37, Lomas Santa Fe Drive; and Exit 39, Manchester Avenue. "Via de la Valle" means "Way of the Valley," but it is grammatically incorrect Spanish. It should be Via del Valle since "valle" is a Spanish masculine word that should be prefaced by the word "el" rather than "la." Photo taken 09/01/12.
Via de la Valle is also signed as San Diego County Route S-6. County Route S-6 begins at its junction with Coast Highway 101 (Historic U.S. 101/San Diego County S-21) and leads northeasterly from here to Rancho Santa Fe, then bends north-northeast via Del Dios Highway to Escondido. The route comes to its end at the entrance to the Mount Palomar Observatory some forty miles away from here. This method of using a single trailblazer shield along the freeway to sign a county route is the Caltrans standard. Use Via de la Valle west to reach the Del Mar Racetrack, home to the San Diego County Fair. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Another mileage sign provides the distance to Solana Beach (two miles) and Los Angeles (101 miles). A "Route 5 Business" sign was posted here until 2000; it was removed when an additional right lane opened between Del Mar Heights Road and Via de la Valle in 2004. Photo taken 01/14/07.
As Interstate 5 descends into the San Dieguito River Valley, the freeway approaches its next interchange along northbound: Exit 36, Junction San Diego County Route S-6/Via de la Valle east to Rancho Santa Fe and Del Dios and west to Del Mar and Solana Beach. The large cleared area to the left (west) of the freeway is the Del Mar Racetrack, home to the San Diego County Fair in June-July and to thoroughbred racing in July-August-September. During these time periods, Interstate 5 can see appreciable increases in traffic as a result of events at the racetrack and fairgrounds. Photos taken 11/07/10 and 01/14/07.
The right lane of Interstate 5 north becomes exit only for Via de la Valle and San Diego County Route S-6. Photo taken 01/14/07.
This white postmile paddle marker notes the 35.50 mile along Interstate 5 north in San Diego County. Photo taken 08/18/12.
Via de la Valle is also signed as San Diego County Route S-6. County Route S-6 begins at its junction with Coast Highway 101 (Historic U.S. 101/San Diego County S-21) and leads northeasterly from here to Rancho Santa Fe, then bends north-northeast via Del Dios Highway to Escondido. The route comes to its end at the entrance to the Mount Palomar Observatory some forty miles away from here. This method of using a single trailblazer shield along the freeway to sign a county route is the Caltrans standard. Use Via de la Valle west to reach the Del Mar Racetrack, home to the San Diego County Fair. Photo taken 09/01/12.
Interstate 5 crosses over the San Dieguito River and Lagoon on this very wide bridge. Photo taken 08/18/12.
Northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway reaches Exit 36, Junction San Diego County Route S-6, Via de la Valle. This large valley was carved out by the San Dieguito River, which created the wetlands on either side of the highway. The bridge over this river, like most river crossings in San Diego County, is unmarked, so only people with maps or locals in the car will know that this river crosses Interstate 5 just south of Via de la Valle. Photos taken 09/01/12 and 01/14/07.
Use Via de la Valle west to the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach. This route used to be a business route that would travel along the coast through Solana Beach and possibly to Carlsbad, but most of the signs have been removed (except for a few located around this interchange). Photos taken 08/18/12 and 04/23/06.
The Del Mar Racetrack, which is popular in the early summer for the annual San Diego County Fair and again in late summer for horse racing, is a very popular venue. Turn left onto Via de la Valle westbound to connect to the racetrack and fairgrounds. Photo taken 04/23/06.
This exit used to be Business Loop I-5, but most of the signage for it has been removed, excepting this shield on the offramp from northbound onto Via de la Valle and an "END" shield along eastbound County Route S-6/Via de la Valle as it passes under the freeway. Photos taken 04/23/06, 10/07/06, and 08/18/12.

The next exit along northbound Interstate 5 is Exit 37, Junction San Diego County Route S-8, Lomas Santa Fe Drive, one and a quarter miles. This sign has been replaced with a reflective sign (no picture available here yet). Photo taken 01/14/07.
This mileage sign is posted next to the left lane along Interstate 5 north; it provides the distance to the next three exits, including Exit 37, Junction San Diego County Route S-8/Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Interstate 5 leaves the city of San Diego and enters the city of Solana Beach. Solana Beach has a population of 13,835 as of the 2000 Census. Interstate 5 completely avoids entering the city of Del Mar. Photo taken 05/22/04.
As traffic from westbound Via de la Valle joins Interstate 5 north, we find this Interstate 5 north reassurance shield. Photo taken 09/01/12.
The right lane of Interstate 5 north becomes exit only for Exit 37, Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Photo taken 09/01/12.
Use Lomas Santa Fe Drive east for Rancho Santa Fe or west for Solana Beach. Taking Lomas Santa Fe Drive east leads to Linea del Cielo, and it merges with San Diego County Route S-6 (Via de la Valle) near the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. Photo taken 09/01/12.
The next approach sign for Exit 37 was replaced in 2009 as part of an interchange widening project. Solana Beach is the second in a string of coastal cities located along old U.S. 101 between San Diego and Oceanside. From south to north, these cities are Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, and Carlsbad. Note the subtle differences in sign between February and October 2009. The latter two pictures are taken from the high occupancy vehicle lane, which was extended from Via de la Valle north to Manchester Avenue around 2009. Photos taken 10/24/09, 02/13/09, and 01/14/07.
San Diego County Route S-8 follows Lomas Santa Fe Drive west to Solana Beach and east to Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. Photo taken 09/01/12.
Follow San Diego County Route S-8 east to the unincorporated community of Rancho Santa Fe. This sign is gone and was ostensibly replaced by the one shown above. Photo taken 01/14/07.
San Diego County Route S-8 follows Lomas Santa Fe Drive east to San Dieguito County Park, then angles northeast along Linea del Cielo before ending at San Diego County Route S-6 in Rancho Santa Fe. Westbound San Diego County Route S-8 follows Lomas Santa Fe Drive into Solana Beach, ending at Coast Highway 101/San Diego County Route S-21. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway reaches Exit 37, Junction San Diego County Route S-8, Lomas Santa Fe Drive. This is the best route to access downtown Solana Beach, which is located just north of Del Mar. This is also the only freeway interchange located wholly within Solana Beach. The signs here were replaced when the new auxiliary lane for the offramp was added as part of the project to install a high occupancy vehicle lane north to Manchester Avenue. Photos taken 09/01/12 and 01/14/07.
Interchange reconstruction/road widening at Exit 37 resulted in the construction of a large retaining wall visible from the northbound lanes of Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway. Construction of the interchange and an extended HOV lane was completed in 2009. Photo taken 10/24/09.
This series of pictures follows the offramp from Interstate 5 north to Exit 37, Junction San Diego County Route S-8 (Lomas Santa Fe Drive). Photos taken 09/01/12.
This mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits along northbound: Exit 39, Manchester Avenue; Exit 40, Birmingham Drive; and Exit 41A, Santa Fe Drive. Photos taken 11/07/10, 10/07/06, and 05/22/04.
Interstate 5 dips into the San Elijo Lagoon as the freeway approaches the next interchange: Exit 39, Manchester Avenue in Encinitas. The sign was replaced when the high occupancy vehicle lane was extended; the carpool lane ends, however, near the offramp to Manchester Avenue. It is planned for future extension. Photos taken 11/07/10 and 01/14/07.
Prior to crossing the San Elijo Lagoon, Interstate 5 departs Solana Beach and enters the city of Encinitas. Encinitas is located between the Batiquitos Lagoon to the north and the San Elijo Lagoon to the south, and it consists of the communities of Leucadia, Encinitas, and Cardiff along the coast and New Encinitas (along El Camino Real) and Olivenhain west of Interstate 5. The city was incorporated on October 1, 1986, making it one of the younger cities along the coast. As of the 2000 Census, 58,014 people resided in Encinitas. The city consists of 19.4 square miles. Photo taken 05/22/04.
Prior to the Manchester Avenue exit, the carpool lane ends and Interstate 5 crosses over San Elijo Lagoon. Photos taken 11/07/10 and 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 39, Manchester Avenue. Use Manchester Avenue east to reach El Camino Real in Encinitas and west to connect to San Elijo Avenue in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Manchester Avenue is named after a local developer. Photo taken 01/14/07.
This mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits along northbound: Exit 40, Birmingham Drive; Exit 41A, Santa Fe Drive; and Exit 41B, Encinitas Boulevard. Photo taken 01/14/07.
This older sign (now gone) used to announce that Interstate 5 has entered the Cardiff-by-the-Sea community of the city of Encinitas. It appears that when it was originally placed, population and elevation statistics were provided. However, when the city of Encinitas was formed, those numbers were removed, but the sign was left in place. This is unusual, since most communities that are part of larger cities (such as La Jolla or Clairemont in San Diego) are not given welcome signs such as this one. Photo taken 05/22/04.
This median sign is the next advance guide sign for Exit 40, Birmingham Drive. Photo taken 01/14/07.
This roadside exit number sign for Exit 40, Birmingham Drive was added in July 2003. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway reaches Exit 40, Birmingham Drive in Encinitas. Birmingham Drive is the second Encinitas exit, leading east to some local neighborhoods and west to Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the southernmost portion of Encinitas. Photo taken 01/14/07.
This mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits: Exit 41A, Santa Fe Drive; Exit 41B, Junction San Diego County Route S-9/Encinitas Boulevard; and Exit 43, Leucadia Boulevard. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The next exit along northbound Interstate 5 is Exit 41A, Santa Fe Drive. This is major east-west route leading west into the heart of Encinitas and as far east as El Camino Real. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 41A, Santa Fe Drive. Photo taken 05/22/04.
This mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits: Exit 41B, Junction San Diego County Route S-9/Encinitas Boulevard; Exit 43, Leucadia Boulevard; and Exit 44, La Costa Avenue. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The next exit along northbound Interstate 5 is Exit 41B, Junction San Diego County Route S-9/Encinitas Boulevard. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 41B, Junction San Diego County Route S-9/Encinitas Boulevard. Use San Diego County Route S-9 east to reaches Oakcrest Park and a variety of shopping centers at its intersection with El Camino Real (San Diego County Route S-11). From there, San Diego County Route S-9 departs Encinitas and ends at San Diego County Route S-8 in Rancho Santa Fe. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The next exit along northbound Interstate 5 is Exit 43, Leucadia Boulevard (one mile). Prior to the incorporation of Encinitas in the 1980s, Leucadia was a separate, unincorporated community of San Diego, just like Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Photo taken 01/14/07.
This northbound Interstate 5 reassurance shield is up to its neck in colorful plants that turn purple in the springtime. Photo taken 04/23/06.
Leucadia Boulevard is an east-west route that connects the Leucadia beach areas and downtown with El Camino Real (San Diego County Route S-11) and Olivenhain Road/Rancho Santa Fe Road (San Diego County Route S-10) in Carlsbad. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Leucadia Boulevard, Exit 43. A vintage stretch of U.S. 101 expressway is located along Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia between Leucadia Boulevard and La Costa Avenue (Batiquitos Lagoon). Photo taken 01/14/07.
This mileage sign along northbound Interstate 5 provides the distance to the next three exits: Exit 44, La Costa Avenue; Exit 45, Aviara Parkway/Poinsettia Lane; and Exit 47, Junction San Diego County Route S-12/Palomar Airport Road. Photo taken 10/07/06.
The next exit along northbound Interstate 5 is Exit 44, La Costa Boulevard. This is the last Encinitas exit. The Batiquitos Lagoon is just beyond this exit, and Carlsbad lies beyond the lagoon. The signs along this section of Interstate 5 were replaced in Spring 2006. Photo taken 10/07/06 and 11/14/04.
A roadside exit number sign for Exit 44, La Costa Avenue is posted shortly thereafter. It seems like the exit number should have been on the overhead sign posted in the median rather than adding a new sign. This kind of signage is common from here north to Carlsbad; the new reflective signs along this stretch were placed in 2006. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 44, La Costa Boulevard. Located east of the freeway, La Costa is known nationally in the golfing community as the host of professional golfing tournaments and other events. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
The next two exits along Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway north are Exit 45, Poinsettia Lane/Aviara Parkway (1.25 miles) followed by Exit 47, Palomar Airport Road (San Diego County Route S-12). Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
Upon passing Exit 44, Interstate 5 leaves the city of Encinitas and enters the city of Carlsbad. This sign is located along northbound as the freeway crosses Batiquitos Lagoon, which generally separates Encinitas from Carlsbad. Home to the famous Carlsbad Flower Fields, Carlsbad was incorporated on July 16, 1952, and it is home to 78,247 people as of the 2000 Census. It is still growing, especially on its eastern side, as it has grown from 7.5 square miles in 1952 to nearly 42 square miles in 2005. Photo taken 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 approaching Poinsettia Lane/Aviara Parkway, Exit 45, right-lane exit only signage. Poinsettia Lane leads due east to meet San Diego County S-21/Coast Highway 101 in front of the South Carlsbad State Beach from this interchange. Photos taken 11/11/12 and 11/14/04.
A new dedicated exit-only lane is formed for traffic utilizing the exit Aviara Parkway and Poinsettia Lane. An exit number sign was added in 2006. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 45, Poinsettia Lane to Aviara Parkway. In an unusual move, Caltrans has signed Aviara Parkway, even though it does not truly intersect Interstate 5 and is actually located a little less than a mile east of the Interstate 5/Poinsettia Lane interchange. Aviara Parkway is really a loop route that begins at Palomar Airport Road (County Route S-12) and arcs to the southeast all the way to El Camino Real (County Route S-11). North of Palomar Airport Road, Aviara Parkway becomes College Boulevard, and it loops back toward El Camino Real north of McClellan Palomar Airport. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
This mileage sign along northbound Interstate 5 provides the distance to the next three exits: Exit 47, Palomar Airport Road (San Diego County Route S-12), followed by Exit 48, Cannon Road and Exit 49, Tamarack Road. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
Use Palomar Airport Road/San Diego County Route S-12 west to reach South Carlsbad State Beach along Coast Highway 101. Photo taken 05/22/04.
The next along northbound is Exit 47, Junction San Diego County Route S-12/Palomar Airport Road. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
San Diego County Route S-12 begins at Coast Highway 101 (San Diego County Route S-21) and follows Palomar Airport Road east past Interstate 5, McClellan Palomar Airport, El Camino Real/San Diego County Route S-11, Rancho Santa Fe Road/San Diego County Route S-10, and California 78/Ronald Packard Highway before reaching Twin Oaks Drive. At Twin Oaks Drive, San Diego County Route S-12 heads north along Twin Oaks Valley Road and Deer Springs Road, ultimately culminating at Interstate 15 Exit 37. Photo taken 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 47, Palomar Airport Road (San Diego County Route S-12). Per its name, Palomar Airport Road leads to McClellan Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, which is one of the larger airports in the county. It has full-service commercial service to a variety of locales, but it is more expensive for commercial flights than San Diego International Airport in many cases. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
One of the newer attractions in the San Diego region is Legoland, which is a theme park for children based on the popular toy. To reach Legoland, use Exit 48. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
This mileage sign along northbound Interstate 5 provides the distance to Exit 48, Cannon Road; Exit 49, Tamarack Avenue; and Exit 50, Carlsbad Village Road. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
A roadside exit number sign for Cannon Road (Exit 48) is posted shortly thereafter. Despite all the overhead signs replaced in 2006, this roadside sign is the only one to contain an exit number for Cannon Road, even though there is plenty of room for it on the overhead signs. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The right lane Interstate 5 north becomes exit only for Exit 48, Cannon Road. The exit only lane is formed from the onramp from Palomar Airport Road. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 48, Cannon Road in Carlsbad. Heading east, Cannon Road becomes Faraday Avenue and connects with San Diego County Route S-11 (El Camino Real). Heading west, Cannon Road meets Coast Highway 101 near Cannon Park. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
The next exit along Interstate 5 north is Exit 49, Tamarack Avenue (one mile). The series of high voltage transmission lines in the distance connect the Carlsbad natural gas electricity generation plant to the San Diego power grid. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
Four double-circuit, 230kV power line towers cross Interstate 5. These lines originate at the Encina power generating station located on the coast and include a substation to connect transmission coming from the north (including San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and other power plants in Orange County and Los Angeles). On the east side of the freeway, the power lines pass over the Carlsbad strawberry fields. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 10/24/09.
This Interstate 5 reassurance shield is posted on northbound after the onramp from Cannon Road. Photo taken 01/14/07.
A roadside exit number sign is posted for Exit 49, Tamarack Avenue in Carlsbad. The Agua Hedionda Lagoon comes into view on the east side of the freeway. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 passes over the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in central Carlsbad, one-quarter mile south of the Tamarack Avenue interchange (Exit 49). Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Tamarack Avenue (Exit 49) just beyond the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. The next exit is Carlsbad Village Road, the main route into downtown Carlsbad. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
This mileage sign provides the distance to the next three exits: Exit 50, Carlsbad Village Road; Exit 51A, Las Flores Drive; and Exit 51B, Junction California 78 east to Escondido. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway approaches Carlsbad Village Road (formerly Elm Avenue), which leads into downtown Carlsbad to the west. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway reaches Exit 50, Carlsbad Village Road. As noted in the small attachment above the sign, this used to be known as Elm Avenue before it was renamed. As recently as 2003, the Thomas Guide map of the area still listed both names along this stretch of roadway. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
This mileage sign provides the distance to the next two exits on northbound: Exit 51A, Las Flores Avenue and Exit 51B, Junction California 78/Ron Packard Freeway. California 78 between Oceanside and Escondido is a major east-west freeway across northern San Diego County. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The next exit along Interstate 5 north is Las Flores Drive (Exit 51A). Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway reaches Exit 51A, Las Flores Drive. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
Use California 78 east via Exit 51B to reach the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The next two exits along Interstate 5 north are Exit 51B, Junction California 78 east to Escondido and Exit 51C, Vista Way west to Oceanside (three-quarters of a mile). Exit 51C is the first of seven exits to serve the city of Oceanside. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
Take California 78/Ronald Packard Parkway east to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which was formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park. This popular, regional attraction offers an expansive pasture full of range animals from around the world. It is located in the San Pasqual Valley (part of the city of San Diego) east of Escondido. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The right two lanes of Interstate 5 north connect to California 78/Ronald Packard Parkway east (Exit 51B) in one-quarter mile. A new sign bridge was erected in front of the overcrossing in 2003, and the sign mounted on the bridge was removed. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The ramp from northbound Interstate 5 to eastbound California 78 is tight because the ramp does not go into the lagoon to the east of the freeway here. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The freeway enters the city of Oceanside as it crosses the Buena Vista Lagoon. Oceanside is the last of several communities nestled along the Interstate 5 corridor that form coastal "North County," a reference to their location in the northern part of San Diego County. Oceanside is a 42-square-mile city that was founded on July 3, 1888, and it is home to 173,303 people as of a 2005 estimate (the highway sign says 164,500 people as of the 2000 Census). Photo taken 04/23/06.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 51B, Junction California 78/Ron Packard Freeway east to Vista and Escondido. California 78 is also known as the Ronald Packard Parkway. Interstate 5 enters the city of Oceanside upon crossing the Buena Vista Lagoon after Las Flores Drive (Exit 51A). Photo taken 01/14/07.
As part of the same modified cloverleaf, northbound Interstate 5 next meets Exit 51C, Vista Way westbound, which is the original California 78 before it was replaced by the freeway. This route leads into downtown Oceanside, connecting to Coast Highway 101. In Spring 2005, all of signs between California 78 and Camp Pendleton were replaced in both directions, so this picture was taken within a year of when it was removed and replaced. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 05/22/04.
The next exit along Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway north is Exit 52, Oceanside Boulevard, three-quarters of a mile. The missing sign on the empty sign bridge gantry to the right was this was the exit sign for a former exit to California Street. This was one of the original exits dating back to the days when Interstate 5 was the U.S. 101 Bypass around Carlsbad and Oceanside (between Palomar Airport Road and Camp Pendleton). The California Street exit was was removed when the westbound California 78 to northbound Interstate 5 connector was widened. Thanks to Bob Barcikowski for this information. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 11/14/04.
An Interstate 5 north shield is posted soon thereafter. Photo taken 11/11/12.
This mileage sign is located along northbound Interstate 5 as it approaches Oceanside Boulevard (Exit 52), one-quarter of a mile. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 05/22/04.
Use Exit 54A (Junction California 76 west) to reach a California Welcome Center (two miles ahead). Photo taken 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 52, Oceanside Boulevard, as the freeway continues north along the former U.S. 101 Bypass Route around Carlsbad and Oceanside. Photos taken 11/11/12 and 05/22/04.
The next exit along northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway is Exit 53, Mission Avenue/Business California 76, one-half of a mile. The next exit (Exit 54A) is for California 76 and southbound Coast Highway 101. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 approaches Exit 53, Mission Avenue/Business California 76. An official state welcome center is at Exit 54A, not Exit 53. Photos taken 11/11/12 and 11/14/04.
Business California 76 is well-signed from both direction of Interstate 5 (at least for Caltrans standards) on the approach to the Mission Avenue interchange, but we've not seen any business route signs on Mission Avenue near Interstate 5 or in downtown Oceanside. Photos taken 11/11/12 and 11/14/04.
Northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway reaches Exit 53, Mission Avenue/Business California 76. Mission Avenue is the original alignment of California 76 before it was moved to a new expressway just north of here, and the sign was altered to cover up the original California 76 shield. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 05/22/04.
Now on the offramp to Exit 53, use the first ramp to follow Mission Avenue east for Business California 76. Photo taken 01/31/10.
View of the distribution lane from northbound Interstate 5 onto east/west Mission Avenue. The lane splits into ramps that connect to each direction of Mission Avenue. Photos taken 01/31/10 and 05/22/04.
The next exit along northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway is Exit 54A, Junction California 76/San Luis Rey Mission Expressway east and California 76 west to San Diego County Route S-21/Coast Highway (Historic U.S. 101). Photos taken 04/26/08 and 05/22/04.
Use California 76 east to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia. Photo taken 05/22/04.
Use California 76 west to Historic U.S. 101 and the California Welcome Center. Photo taken 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 54A, Junction California 76/San Luis Rey Expressway east to Bonsall and west to U.S. 101/Coast Highway 101. California 76 leads east from Oceanside toward Fallbrook, Pala, and Palomar Mountain before terminating at Junction California 79 near Lake Henshaw/Morettis, about midway between Warner Springs and Santa Ysabel. Meanwhile, Historic U.S. 101 ends its journey as the Coast Highway (San Diego County Route S-21), and it merges back onto Interstate 5. Although there are plenty of lost sections of old U.S. 101 in Camp Pendleton, not much of it is open to the driving general public. As such, Historic U.S. 101 is not accessible by car again until Orange County. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 05/22/04.
These two pictures show the ramp from Interstate 5 north to California 76/San Luis Rey Mission Expressway east and California 76 west to Historic U.S. 101/Coast Highway in Oceanside. Photos taken 11/11/12.
Use California 76/San Luis Rey Mission Expressway east to the San Luis Rey de Francia Mission, one of the historic missions along El Camino Real that extends from San Diego north to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sonoma along the Interstate 5 and U.S. 101 corridors. The San Luis Rey de Francia Mission was founded on June 13, 1798. Photos taken 11/11/12.
Returning to the mainline of Interstate 5 north, the next exit along northbound is Exit 54B, the main Camp Pendleton exit. Camp Pendleton is the large Marine base that dominates Interstate 5 for the remainder of its journey in San Diego County. It is the last vestige of how the coast used to look prior to development of the land. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 11/14/04.
A roadside exit number sign is posted for Exit 54B, Vandegrift Boulevard north to Camp Pendleton. Photo taken 04/26/08.
Northbound Interstate 5 approaches the exit for Vandegrift Boulevard north to Camp Pendleton (Exit 54B) and Oceanside Harbor Drive (Exit 54C). In an unusual move, both exits (54B and 54C) are consolidated onto one sign. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 05/22/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 54B, Vandegrift Boulevard north to Camp Pendleton. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 05/22/04.
Immediately thereafter, Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway north meets Exit 54C, Oceanside Harbor Drive. This is the last exit along northbound until about midway through the Camp Pendleton reserve (Las Pulgas Road). Photos taken 04/26/08 and 11/14/04.
Interstate 5/San Diego (Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Memorial) Freeway north
An Interstate 5 reassurance shield is posted shortly thereafter. In 2008, a neutered shield was placed at this point, part of a disturbing trend along this stretch of Interstate 5. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 01/14/07.
Interstate 5 between Exit 54C and the San Diego-Orange County Line is designated the Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Memorial Freeway. Bicycles are allowed on the freeway briefly, between Exit 54C (Oceanside Harbor Drive) and Exit 62 (Las Pulgas Road) due to the lack of a parallel, non-freeway route. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Descending again, Interstate 5 and the parallel railroad cross the Santa Margarita River. The steel through truss bridge in the center carries the railroad over the river, but it is slated for replacement once the railroad is expanded to twin tracks through this area. The railroad carries the Amtrak and Metrolink passenger rail as well as freight rail from points north toward Oceanside. Photos taken 04/26/08.
The first northbound rest area (Exit 59) is the next offramp from Interstate 5 north. This is the only rest area between San Diego and Los Angeles, since it is the only area that looks remotely rural in San Diego County along Interstate 5. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Now that the freeway is on the Camp Pendleton Marine Base, the entire look and feel of Interstate 5 has changed. No longer surrounded by homes, shopping centers, and development, there is much more agriculture, open space, and other land uses. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches its first northbound rest area at Exit 59. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The first regular exit in nearly eight miles along northbound Interstate 5 is Exit 62, Las Pulgas Road, one mile. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Las Pulgas Road provides access to the center of the Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 62, Las Pulgas Road. This exit serves the Marine base, and it connects a staging area for those who wish to bike an extant section of Old U.S. 101 that is currently open only to pedestrians and bicyclists. All bicycles must exit the freeway at this point. The original alignment of U.S. 101, although located on Marine property as part of Camp Pendleton, may be bicycled between Las Pulgas Road and San Clemente (via San Onofre). Old U.S. 101 is a fascinating bike ride, as it once served as the primary route between Los Angeles and San Diego. Photo taken 01/14/07.
This Interstate 5 reassurance shield is posted after the onramp from Exit 62, Las Pulgas Road. The shield was replaced in 2007 to the neutered one shown in the first photo. Photos taken 04/26/08 and 01/14/07.
This Camp Pendleton welcome sign is located after the Las Pulgas Road interchange. Photo taken 01/14/07.
A mileage sign shortly thereafter provides the distance to San Clemente (12 miles) and Los Angeles (73 miles). The officially recognized control city of Santa Ana, which is the seat of Orange County, is omitted on all northbound mileage signs until Interstate 5 enters Orange County. At that point, Santa Ana will appear on most pull-through guide and mileage signs. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 continues through Camp Pendleton after the Las Pulgas Road exit. Much of Camp Pendleton remains in its pristine state, and travelers on Interstate 5 may see some of the last remaining undeveloped coastal land in Southern California as a result. Of course, the oft-congested, eight-lane freeway does despoil the view somewhat. Photos taken 01/14/07.
A tall fence separates the two directions of traffic in order to prevent pedestrians from crossing from one side of the freeway to the other. This is related to the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint at Exit 67, which is several miles ahead. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The next exit along Interstate 5 north is Exit 67, Weigh Station and Border Patrol Inspection Station. Around approximately Milepost 67, traffic along northbound Interstate 5 crosses the Border Patrol Checkpoint. It is located adjacent to a Caltrans Weigh Station, and it operates on an irregular basis. Traffic is not always required to stop at the checkpoint, but when it is in operation, traffic delays may last for several miles. The checkpoint is in place to prevent illegal immigrants from leaving San Diego County and continuing north into Los Angeles and the Central Valley in search of work. It is unclear exactly what criteria is used by Border Patrol agents in determining which vehicles should be inspected, but the checkpoint has resulted in some drug seizures and the return of undocumented immigrants back their countries of origin. Even when the checkpoint is closed, Border Patrol agents monitor traffic as they pass the inspection station to look for suspicious vehicles or activity. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
This sign warns of pedestrians running across the roadway. Last seen on Interstate 5 near the International Border, this sign was added perhaps due to proximity of the U.S. Border Patrol station. These yellow signs of the running family are placed in the vicinity of the Border Patrol checkpoint to ensure that motorists are aware that people may be fleeing authorities at the checkpoint. These signs used to be seen on either side of the checkpoint; they are now gone. Photo taken 11/14/04.
The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant is adjacent to San Onofre State Beach on the west side of the freeway, as seen in this picture along northbound. As one of the few nuclear power plants in California, San Onofre generates a significant share of electricity for Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric. Electricity transmits to the grid via the wires that cross the freeway ahead. The twin domes that contain the reactors were made famous in the movie Naked Gun when Lieutenant Frank Drebin said, "Everywhere I go, something reminds me of her." Photos taken 01/14/07.
A significant number of power lines cross over Interstate 5 to connect San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (often abbreviated as SONGS) with the local power grid. This facility is the only one of its kind in Southern California; there is only one other active nuclear generating station in California, and it is located at Diablo Canyon near San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast. Power lines swarm into this facility, as it is an important substation for both San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). Photo taken 01/14/07.
The next exit along northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway is Exit 71, Basilone Road (one mile). This exit is the last one serving Camp Pendleton, and it connects to San Onofre. San Onofre is notable for two things: the state beach and the nuclear power plant. The San Onofre State Beach is known locally as a good surfing location and as a nude beach. The surfing is considered better because of the beach's orientation toward the waves. Since it is a relatively secluded beach (even with the extremely busy Interstate 5 nearby), the southern portion of it has become a documented spot for nudists to congregate. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
Basilone Road is named for Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, who was a war hero from World War II. Enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1934, he found himself in the front lines of World War II. On October 25, 1942, Basilone was instrumental in holding off a Japanese assault at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. His heroism and bravery in this battle resulted in his receipt of the Medal of Honor. Although he returned to U.S. soil to receive his award, he returned to battle. Basilone and several of his men were killed in a mortar shell explosion on February 19, 1945, on Iwo Jima. Basilone is memorialized here in Camp Pendleton, both as the name of the Basilone Road and as the name of this stretch of Interstate 5. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Use Basilone Road west to reach San Onofre State Beach. San Mateo Creek passes under the freeway here, and the locally famous Trestles surfing break is located offshore here. The portion of the beach that extends into the military property is more secluded, and thus several nudists have established themselves along that section of the beach. Photo taken 01/14/07.
Northbound Interstate 5 reaches Exit 71, Basilone Road to north Camp Pendleton, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and San Onofre State Beach. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
This set of pictures shows the offramp from Interstate 5 north to Exit 71, Basilone Road. Upon reaching the top of the ramp, turn left for San Onofre or right for Camp Pendleton. Since this is a diamond interchange, motorists may proceed straight ahead here to return to the northbound freeway. Photos taken 04/06/12.
Returning to the mainline, northbound Interstate 5 next approaches the final interchange located in San Diego County. The next exit along Interstate north is Exit 72, Cristianitos Road. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
The next six exits (used to be five exits, but the Vista Hermosa exit was added in Summer 2002) serve San Clemente, the southernmost community in Orange County. Photo taken 01/14/07.
This view looks north from the onramp connecting Basilone Road (Exit 71) with Interstate 5 northbound. Photo taken 04/06/12.
Northbound Interstate 5 approaches Cristianitos Road, Exit 72, next right. It is within this area that the proposed California 241 Foothill South Corridor tollway has been proposed to connect with Interstate 5; due to the route of the toll road through a state park and ending here near the famous Trestles break, the 241 extension has been very controversial. As of this writing it is still uncertain and in fact unlikely that the toll road extension will be built. Photo taken 01/14/07.
The Cristianitos Road exit is the southern terminus of San Clemente's Business Loop I-5, which follows El Camino Real (Historic U.S. 101) through San Clemente and is basically unsigned aside from this one advance sign along northbound. It is possible that Caltrans District 12 (Orange County) did not tell Caltrans District 11 (San Diego/Imperial Counties) that the business route was decommissioned. The first photo shows the original button copy signage; the second photo shows the new reflective signage. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 08/22/00.
After crossing San Mateo Creek, northbound Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway meets Exit 72, Junction Business Loop I-5/Cristianitos Road. This is the first San Clemente exit and the last one located in San Diego County. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
At the top of the offramp is this sign pointing the way to Business Loop I-5 (Old U.S. 101)/El Camino Real north into San Clemente (right turn) or San Clemente State Park (left turn). Photos taken 10/15/11.
Returning to the mainline and as we pass under Cristianitos Road, the next exit along Interstate 5/San Diego Freeway north is Exit 73, Avenida Magdalena (1.25 miles). The sign was replaced with an exit number between 2004 and 2007. Avenida Magdalena serves the central part of San Clemente. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 11/14/04.
Interstate 5 leaves San Diego County and enters Orange County upon crossing under Cristianitos Road. Orange County is perhaps best known as "The O.C." as a result of the popular drama television series. Home to many beaches and suburban life, Orange County used to be better known as the home of Disneyland and countless orange groves. With a population and development expansion that has pushed the urbanized areas to the feet of the mountains, Orange County is rapidly approaching its limit on new development. Upon passing the county line, Interstate 5 enters the city of San Clemente. Photos taken 01/14/07 and 08/07/04.

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Page Updated November 12, 2012.