Last Thursday I visited the San Juan Bautista Mission, which is south of the bay area on the El Camino Real, the trail that connects the California missions. California is young, so it's easy to tell the story of San Juan Bautista: In 1797, Lt. Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza led an expedition that visited the site, as decreed by Carlos III, the king of Spain. So, while they were checking out the area, Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuen setup the mission. The Spanish left, but the mission has been there ever since and the mission church is up and running.
The mission has a beautiful little garden with sculptures, a bell, flowers, and cacti.
The inside of the church is not huge, and a bit rural in style. I liked the patina of the wooden ceiling.
The bell tower of the mission, built in 2004, was featured in Hitchcock's Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958). The Spanish plaza next to the mission also features a historic hotel and Staples.
Driving out of San Juan Bautista I saw farmers watering their lettuce.
What's best about this place? It feels very different than the bay area, and different than Santa Cruz - basically rural, slow, and peaceful - yet the food in town is surprisingly good. A nice place to relax.