The missions represented the first major effort by Europeans to colonize the Pacific Coast region, and spread the Catholic Faith. The mission had mixed results in its objective to convert, educate and "civilize" the indigenous population. Today, the missions are among the state's oldest structures and the most-visited historic monuments.
Your first day begins at your hotel in San Diego, where you will meet the other passengers in your group. In the evening you will be taken to Seaport Village where the group will enjoy a gala welcome dinner at the Harbor House, known for its excellent cuisine and its beautiful views of the harbor. Following dinner, en route back to the hotel, the group will take a short night-time driving tour of the downtown area.
Following checkout of the hotel the group will take the short drive to Presidio Park, where you will visit the Junipero Serra Museum which overlooks the spot where the Spanish Franciscan missionary, Father Junipero Serra, established California's first mission in 1769. A stop will then be made at the Mission San Diego de Alcala, the “Mother of the California Missions”, the first link in a chain of 21 missions founded by the Spanish missionary Father Serra. At the Mission Basilica, mass is held regularly in this still active Catholic parish. Then it is off to the fabled mission city of San Juan Capistrano, where legend has it the swallows arrive promptly on March 19th and depart October 23rd each year. The leisurely drive north will conclude in downtown Los Angeles. Dinner tonight on Olvera Street in the heart of the Latin community.
This morning the group will first visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Afterwards the group will take a sightseeing tour of the Los Angeles area. In the mid-afternoon the group will head to Warner Bros. Studios for a true behind the scenes look into the making of major films and television programs. The group will then head back to the hotel to relax for awhile before dinner and overnight.
Today the group will drive to the San Fernando Valley, which is located just north of Los Angeles, to visit the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana. Leaving Mission Hills, the drive continues north past Oxnard and Ventura to Santa Barbara, formerly the site of the Western White House. Santa Barbara is noted for its lovely Spanish architecture and historic Spanish mission. Upon arrival the group will visit the Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786 and still inhabited by Franciscan friars. The last leg of today's drive north will conclude in Solvang, better known as “Little Denmark”, a charming village which has developed into a veritable corner of Denmark itself. Following check-in at your hotel, the group will enjoy a smorgasbord (authentic Danish buffet) at one of the local restaurants.
This morning the group will visit the Mission Santa Ines. Founded in 1804, this perfectly restored mission is the oldest structure in the area. The drive north continues to the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, founded in 1772. California's fifth mission, often called “the Prince of Missions” it remains one of the prettiest and most interesting in the Franciscan chain. Upon arrival in San Simeon the group will tour the magnificent Hearst Castle, built by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. The drive north continues on cliff-hanging US Highway 1 along the overwhelmingly beautiful Big Sur coastline. Upon arrival in the late afternoon at the beautiful Monterey Peninsula the group will check-in at your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Today begins with a stop at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo, the final resting place of Father Junipero Serra. The group will then visit the quaint and charming town of Carmel-bythe- Sea, a simple yet sophisticated shopper's paradise. Today's drive north will take the group through the Salinas Valley, the artichoke capital of the world, to the Mission San Juan Bautista. The group will then drive north through Silicon Valley where many of the country's high tech and computer companies are located, to San Francisco. Dinner and overnight.
Today the group will take a sightseeing tour of San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The tour continues to picturesque and charming Sausalito. The group will then board the ferry for the bay crossing which passes within yards of the former island prison of Alcatraz, “the Rock.” During the course of the bay cruise individuals can enjoy the refreshing bay air, the graceful flight of colorful seagulls, and take-in views of the city's landmarks. Mid afternoon arrival at the Fisherman's Wharf area with the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner and overnight.
Today the group will travel north to the beautiful tapestry of the wine country, one of the premier wine producing regions in the world. The group will take a private guided tour of a winery, an excellent overview of the entire wine making process. Tour members will then sample a variety of wines in the tasting room. En route back to San Francisco a stop will be made in San Rafael at the mission here. This evening the group will enjoy a farewell dinner at Tarantino's, a popular old Italian seafood restaurant.
Following breakfast your tour will end today at your hotel in San Francisco.
California Missions (Land Only)