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Overview

On State Highway 101, mid-way between San Jose and Monterey, in the heart of the San Juan Valley, San Juan Bautista was once the largest town in central California and a vital crossroads. Steeped in a lovely small town atmosphere, it still offers plenty of history. Most visitors flock to explore the well-preserved Mission San Juan Bautista, the largest of the 21 Spanish missions in California. When finished here, make for San Juan Bautista State Historic Park, which preserves the original town plaza and many of early 19th-century buildings, including the recently opened Castro-Breen Adobe. The park is a venue for a Living History celebration ...

On State Highway 101, mid-way between San Jose and Monterey, in the heart of the San Juan Valley, San Juan Bautista was once the largest town in central California and a vital crossroads. Steeped in a lovely small town atmosphere, it still offers plenty of history. Most visitors flock to explore the well-preserved Mission San Juan Bautista, the largest of the 21 Spanish missions in California. When finished here, make for San Juan Bautista State Historic Park, which preserves the original town plaza and many of early 19th-century buildings, including the recently opened Castro-Breen Adobe. The park is a venue for a Living History celebration every first Saturday of the month, when docents in period costume demonstrate spinning, candle making, and other crafts. The town has long drawn artists, many of whom have galleries. Monterey is a short drive away. For views of Monterey Bay, head south the few miles to Fremont Peak State Park – a great venue for hiking and camping, and the park's astronomical observatory is open to the public on selected evenings. Off-roaders head to Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, in the Gabilan Mountains. There are even wineries hereabouts. And antiquing is top-notch.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and autumn