San Juan Bautista

This town is famous for two things: the mission, and the shops. Mission San Juan Bautista is a beautiful mission, unobstructed by urban development. Built in 1719, this mission was an integral part of the California Missions Trail, which leads from San Diego to Sonoma and is comprised of 21 missions. The mission is extremely well preserved despite damage from multiple earthquakes and offers scenic vistas looking out over agricultural fields.

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Chapel at Mission San Juan Bautista. Photo credit: Lisette

The mission was a filming location and feature in the Hitchcock film, Vertigo. Hitchcock created a fictional tower in the film were many key scenes take place. Named for the famous movie filmed in the town, you can get great coffee, food, beer and cider at Vertigo Coffee Roasters just off Fourth Street among several quaint shops.

These shops, mainly antiques, are run by a friendly crowd of locals. Many are retirees and will be happy to chat with you about the area. A man in a clock shop on Third Street will proudly show you all his musical clocks, setting them off one by one to create a cacophony of sounds in the narrow little shop he runs. This gentleman has been in the town for 11 years and has “loved every minute of it.”

This charming little town is well worth a short day trip, or even better, a stop along the way to Carmel or Big Sur.

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