I love learning about local history, so since we moved to California years ago I have been fascinated with the Spanish missions that dot the length of the state. I have had the opportunity to visit several of the 21 missions over the years and most recently traveled to the Sonoma Mission (official name, San Francisco Solano) with my family. It is a great place to visit with kids to learn more about California history!
Sonoma Mission (San Francisco Solano)
The Sonoma Mission was:
- The last California mission to be built (1823)
- The furthest north
- The only mission built after Mexico’s independence from Spain
- The only mission founded without prior approval from the Church
- The only one my kids have visited (so far!)
Why We Loved It
My favorite parts were the chapel and the central courtyard. In the small chapel it is easy to imagine the overlapping prayers and desires of the generations of people who have sat or stood in that very spot. In the courtyard is where they worked. It was so amazing to see the old outdoor “beehive” oven they used for baking. This is a great way for kids to understand how things used to be before electricity.
I loved the central fountain, surrounded by benches and shaded by trees like a little desert oasis. Although not original to the Mission, it is a welcome addition for today’s visitors. If you visit in the summer, you will appreciate this cool, shady spot even more!
You also can’t miss the huge growth of Prickly Pear cactus, which served as a living fence during Mission times.
My boys loved the army barracks, which show you how soldiers from the Mexican era lived. There is even an old canon!
How to Find It
The Sonoma Mission is now part of the Sonoma State Historic Park, which includes the Mission, Barracks, and Vallejo family home. The park is actually six different sites located around the beautiful town of Sonoma, which is in the world famous California Wine Country.
The park is open daily except for major holidays.
While You’re There
We loved La Casa, a wonderful family owned Mexican restaurant right across the street from the Mission. Before heading home, we also stopped at Chocolate Cow, which has great ice cream as well as candy. It is located in a cute little shopping plaza just a short walk away from the Mission.
For More Information
Do you have a favorite spot to visit in California?
Today we are joining with other California bloggers to share favorite family destinations in the Golden State! Find great resources in this list, plus link up your own below!