“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

We have carefully budgeted our Classic Pilgrimages for families, couples and single 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.

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, originally  led by St. Junipero Serra (1713-84), 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 visit 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. 

“Always go forward, never go back.”— St. Junipero Serra 

 As pilgrims, we, too, will “go forward” both physically and spiritually, on this journey that will weave our inner and outer being into a fabric of presence, attention and response… The presence of God in sacred spaces and in the heartbreakingly beautiful landscapes and seascapes 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 the next generations…  Daily we will “break bread” together and walk amid God’s beautiful creation, 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


  •   Spend two (2) 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
  •   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


  •   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 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


  •   Spend two (2) 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
    •   Spend two (2) 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 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

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