Mission San Juan Bautista, California

Strolling through the historic town of San Juan Bautista, nestled at the foot of the Gabilan Mountains, I feel like I’m walking through the pages of a history book. Adobe structures dating to the 1700s testify to the Spanish influence in California’s early days.

Founded in 1797, the mission was named for St. John the Baptist. The fifteenth in a chain of 21 California missions founded by Father Junipero Serra, San Juan Bautista’s mission is the largest and longest continuously operating. You’ll see the three-foot-thick adobe walls and the baptismal font carved by Native Americans. There is a daily mass at noon.

Scenes from the Hitchcock movie Vertigo were filmed at the mission, including the final scene at the bell tower.

A town replete with yesterday’s charm, San Juan Bautista is home to an antique center, art specialty shops, a rare gem shop, a state historic park, an extensive collection of buggies from days gone by and many old adobe buildings. Everything is within walking distance.

When you’re ready for lunch, try patio dining at Jardines de San Juan, 115 Third Street, for great Mexican food at reasonable prices.

More info: oldmissionsjb.org, san-juan-bautista.ca.us.

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