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Fly into Los Angeles and pick up your car hire at LAX to set out on Route 101, or the old California Mission Road to San Francisco. One of the easiest and most obvious scenic drives from arrival at Los Angeles Airport, in around 7 hours of time behind the wheel you will be treated to lots of interesting stops, old towns full of character, and end in a spot thats equally suitable as the beginning of another leg to your journey.
Route 101 begins about one mile east of downtown Los Angeles at the East Los Angeles Interchange, also known as the "Commuters' Complex." US. 101 is also called the Hollywood Freeway from LA as it heads to Hollywood and up through the Cahueng Pass before reaching the San Fernando Valley.
Highlights you should look for along your way include Gaviota State Park, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Hollister, and the Mission San Juan Bautista. Once a sleepy farm community and gas stop along the 101, Paso Robles is now California's fastest growing wine region. Plan a stop in your California car rental at Paso Robles where you can visit any of 170 wineries, catch one of its three annual Paso Robles Wine Festivals, and visit nearby Hearst Castle.
As you reach San Francisco Route 101 becomes Highway 101 and is joined by Route 1 before approaching and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. From here its easy enough to bring your tour of the Old California Mission Road to a close and drop off your car hire at San Francisco Airport to fly home. However, there's no reason to stop here if you can stand a few more hours behind the wheel...
Highway 1 is a tempting scenic drive famed for its rugged coastline. About 5 hours total from its split with Highway 101 to Carmel, HIghway 1 can make for a lovely extra day or to to your visit by San Francisco car rental. This stretch of road is very winding, often passing steep drop offs and is not advisable during heavy fog or bad weather.