Project Description

“I have placed all my confidence in God, from whose goodness I hope He will grant me to reach not only San Diego, … but also Monterey.”
—St. Junipero Serra, 1768 


Classic California Missions Pilgrimage

March 16 – 24, 2020

This pilgrimage is being offered again in 2022!  Click on the button below to visit the 2022 pilgrimage page for more information.


We have carefully budgeted our Classic Pilgrimages for travelers so that they can experience the unique qualities of Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages at our most affordable price, without sacrificing Inside the Vatican integrity and style. This pilgrimage is limited to 25 pilgrims to keep the pilgrimage as intimate as possible.To learn more about our Classic Pilgrimages click on the button below.

what is a classic pilgrimage?

Join us on our Classic California Missions Pilgrimage to experience the beauty of the California coastline, and tour the missions churches of the early Spanish missionaries at the most affordable cost we have to offer!

When the Spanish discovered America, they were in search of wealth and empire, but one of their goals was spiritual: to win souls for Christ. One center of these efforts was the coast of California. Over 54 years, between 1769 and 1823, a number of Franciscan friars, led by St. Junipero Serra, founded 21 Spanish missions along 600 miles of the California coast, from San Diego to Carmel. These missions were churches where Mass and the other sacraments were celebrated, but they were also centers of technology and learning where European skills, such as agriculture and animal husbandry, were taught to the indigenous population, which greatly enhanced aspects of their lives. Many of these missions are still active churches today. During our California Missions Pilgrimage, we will tour 8 of the 21 Spanish missions. Our journey back in time to the late 1700s and early 1800s will traverse 600 miles in a series of short drives, generally less than an hour each, along the spectacular California coastline.

 The Lord bless you and keep you. May He show His face to you and have mercy. May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace.”

—The Blessing of St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

As pilgrims, our journey will weave our inner and outer being into a spiritual fabric of presence, attention and response… The presence of God in sacred spaces and in the breathtakingly beautiful landscape and seascape of the California coastline… Attention to those who went before us in prayer and labor, to those who live and work in the California Missions today, and to those who will come after us in coming generations… Daily we will “break bread” together and walk amid God’s beautiful creations, sharing ourselves, our stories, weaving our individual threads into a richly-hued tapestry. This pilgrimage, with these pilgrims, will be unique, never to be repeated.


Pilgrimage Overview

March 16 – 24, 2020

San Diego

  • Spend two nights at the historic Porto Vista Hotel located in the downtown Little Italy District in San Diego
  • Experience San Diego’s Little Italy, the largest Little Italy in the United States
  • Visit and attend Mass at our first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcala
  • Attend the first of two dinners celebrating twenty-five years of publishing Inside the Vatican magazine
  • Sip coffee and enjoy snacks at the beautiful seaside town of La Jolla
  • Visit second mission, Mission San Luis Rey, a National Landmark, and attend Mass
  • Dine overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Oceanside Pier

Mission Viejo

  • Spend two (2) nights at the Hampton Inn-Mission
  • Attend the Return of the Swallows Festival on the Feast Day of St. Joseph at Mission San Juan Capistrano
  • Attend the second of two (2) dinners celebrating twenty-seven years of publishing Inside the Vatican magazine
  • Attend Mass at third mission, Mission San Juan Capistrano
  • Drive along the coast, stopping for lunch in Malibu
  • Visit our fourth mission,  “Mission by the Sea,” Mission San Buenaventura
  • Visit Santa Barbara town and pier
  • Solvang
    • Spend two nights at the Hotel Corque in this quaint village, a re-creation of Copenhagen
    • Explore and attend Mass at our fifth mission, Mission Santa Barbara, known for choral singing and the largest Mission Archive Library
    • Savor the wine and local food at the Sunstone Winery
    • Visit the sixth Mission Santa Ines (Agnes), the first seminary in California
  • Carmel-by-the Sea
    • Spend two nights at the historic Pine Inn, Carmel’s first-ever hotel that blends historic splendor with modern amenities
    • Tour the seventh mission, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, known for the bells imported from Lima, Peru, that are still rung by hand
    • Travel through San Simeon, stopping to view the Hearst Castle and visiting at the nearby Elephant Seal Boardwalk to watch the seals
    • Attend Mass, lunch and a private spiritual reflection at the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur
    • Journey along the coast towards Carmel, stopping for the stunning views of McWay Falls, Pfeffer Beach and Bixby Creek Bridge
    • Experience our final encounter at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo to visit the tomb of Saint Junipero Serra
    • Explore the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea and attend our Farewell dinner
    • Full Payment – required 60 days prior to departure date, January 15, 2020.
    • Number of Pilgrims – limited to 25 pilgrims to allow for a peaceful and personal experience. A minimum of 15 pilgrims is required for this pilgrimage to proceed.
    • Robert Moynihan, editor-in-chief of Inside the Vatican magazine, and Deborah Tomlinson, COO of Inside the Vatican magazine, will greet you at the Porto Vista Hotel and will accompany your group for the entire pilgrimage.

I desire nothing more from you than this, that when the news of my death shall have reached your ears, I ask you to say for the benefit of my soul: ‘May he rest in peace.’ Nor shall I omit to do the same for you, so that all of us will attain the goal for which we have been created.”

—St. Junipero Serra, to his theology students on the island of Mallorca in the year 1743. Shortly after, Serra, who was about 5 feet tall, felt a vocation to become a missionary in the New World