You can spend weeks visiting California’s historic missions one by one. Or, you can see them all in one wonderful gem of a museum.
The 21 Spanish missions stretch for 650 miles from San Diego to Sonoma, something you’ll learn at the California Missions Museum. Happily, the museum is located on the grounds of Cline Cellars winery in Sonoma. As an added bonus, not only do you get to see the missions, you can sample Cline Cellars’ lovely wines. There is no charge for either activity.
The missions in the museum are models, built to scale for the 1939 World’s Fair held on Treasure Island. Each finely detailed model was created by a team of German cabinetmakers and was based upon two years worth of research.
Following the World’s Fair, the models made their way to San Francisco’s Cliff House where they were placed on display for the public. In 1998, the 21 models were in danger of being auctioned off individually.
Enter the Cline family, owners of Cline Cellars. The Clines purchased the entire collection. They then created a museum to showcase these remarkable mission models. It opened in 2005 and sits on the site of the original Mission Sonoma.
At the museum, the missions are arranged geographically, starting with Mission San Diego. Information about each mission is featured, as are paintings of the missions as they appear today. You will also see two stunning stained glass panels once housed in San Francisco’s Mission Dolores.
The California Missions Museum and Cline Cellars are located at 24737 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, California. Phone: 707-939-8051; www.californiamissionsmuseum.com.