I completely understand why the moderators warn against driving too long. My family left our house in Orange County at 5:15 AM on our way to the Bay Area. We had to drop a friend off at Long Beach Airport on the way, so we took CA-22 to I-405 before heading north via I-5. We left Long Beach around 6:00 AM.
Stop #1 was the McDonald's at Castaic (mile 123; 6:57 to 7:46 AM). It's the last part of suburbia before going through the mountains and down to Grapevine.
Stop #2 was Lost Hills (mile 194; 9:11 to 9:30 AM), where we filled up the tank and headed west on CA-46. We stopped briefly at the James Dean memorial east of Cholame. There wasn't much to see here, so we snapped a few photos and moved on.
Stop #3 was Mission San Miguel Arcangel (just north of Paso Robles along US 101 [mile 263; 10:55 to 11:15 AM]). The mission is being repaired after extensive earthquake damage a few years ago, so we didn't go into the chapel.
Stop #4 was Mission San Antonio de Padua (mile 303; 12:10 to 1:28 PM). This required a fairly long detour off the 101 via Jolon Road to Fort Hunter Liggett. Entering the base to see the mission requires a security inspection, and drivers must present the vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and a valid driver's license. We ate our lunch there in the picnic area before touring the grounds. This is one of the best preserved missions in the chain.
Stop #5 was Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad (mile 346; 2:19 to 2:29 PM). If San Antonio and la Purisima Concepcion are the best preserved, Soledad is probably one of the least preserved. The chapel and attached rooms were rebuilt in 1955, but the remains from the original quadragle are mostly-dissolved adobe walls. The mission failed and was abandoned for so long that not much remained. Unless you are intent on seeing all the missions, this is one that can be safely skipped.
Stop #6 was the NASA center (formerly Moffatt Field [mile 441; 4:05 to 4:24 PM]) to see some WWII bombers on temporary display. I checked the Collings Foundation website to see where their B-17 and B-24 would be on their annual tour, and it happened to be along our route.
Our final stop was the Embassy Suites in South San Francisco (mile 467; 4:50 PM) where we stayed two nights.
I'll post photos, times, distances, and our second day itinerary when I get more time tonight.