I’ve always imagined I’d get married on the beach, barefoot, but when I first saw the gigantic doors of the chapel open at the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, California, I briefly reconsidered.
The Mission Inn was one breathtaking step after another. From the iconic domes, chatty parrots at the entrance to the secluded pools — stumbling upon the Mission Inn while on a business trip to Riverside left a longing to wake up in one of the many towers.
The Mission Inn has been a cornerstone in downtown Riverside since 1876. Its rise to greatness began in the late 1800’s when Europeans flocked to Riverside in search of stock in the citrus industry. One such European, Frank Miller, opened the first wing of The Mission Inn in 1903. From there, Miller added three more wings to his hotel: the Cloister, the Spanish and finally the Rotunda wing.
In coming years, The Mission Inn continued to grow in features and in prestige. In fact, the Presidential Lounge has welcomed 10 presidents through its doors. Fun fact: The current bar stands where President Theodore Roosevelt once slept during his visit.
If you get the chance to tour the hotel, you’ll notice an abundance of bells. It was told that Miller had a love for bringing lots of stuff back from his adventures. One of his favorite things to bring back were bells. Today, around 400 bells are scattered about the hotel grounds.
The history of the hotel isn’t all bells and whistles though. Miller successfully ran The Mission Inn Hotel until his death in 1935. After his passing, the Miller family sold the hotel in 1956. Barely scraping by, the hotel was nearly demolished before current owner Duane Roberts swooped in to restore The Mission Inn to its glory in 1992.
To tour the hotel, stop by the museum located near the entrance to the hotel. The Mission Inn Foundation offers 75 minute walking tours led by trained docents through the winding halls of the hotel. Reservations are recommended and cost $13 per person.
Or you can just stumble into the museum while exploring the city as this traveler did. Luckily, weeknights in the middle of winter aren’t highly sought after.
When you’ve finished the tour and are needing a pick-me-up, make sure to grab a delicious cupcake from Casey’s Cupcakes.
Have you visited the Mission Inn hotel?