Saturday, July 19, 2014

The California Missions

The California Missions are integral to the history and culture of California.  The missions were built over the period from 1769 to 1823, and they grew and evolved into some of California's most important cities.  The trail that connected the missions, El Camino Real, became California's first "highway."

I've visited 14 of the 21 missions, and each was fascinating in its own way.  My favorites include:

  • Mission San Juan Bautista, which is located in a small town and surrounded by well-preserved historical buildings.  There is also a small stretch of dirt trail that was part of the original El Camino Real.
  • Mission La Pur√≠sima Concepci√≥n, which has been restored and is now operated as a California State Historic Park.   Today it is the best example of a working mission community.

My interest in the missions eventually grew into a website, the California Mission Guide, which I continue to maintain and expand.

Recently, I packaged the information from the site into a book, a kind of "field guide" to the missions.  It's available at

Learn more about the California Missions at