I had heard about the Mission Inn in Riverside and wanted to visit for some time. I found out they have this Festival of Lights each year during the holiday season, so my friends and I went on a road trip this weekend to check them out.
The Mission Inn is a National Historic Landmark. We went on a tour of the hotel first. Unfortunately, they didn't allow us to take pictures on the tour so I missed out on lots of great photo ops. However, we learned a lot about early settlements in Riverside in the late 1800's, about Frank Miller's plans for the Mission Inn, and the history of the hotel. Some of the venues we visited inside the hotel included the Music Room which houses a 100-year old Kimball Organ, the Spanish Gallery, and the Ho-O-Kan Room that houses Miller's art collections from China and Japan. Because we visited on a Saturday, we only got a quick glimpse of the hotel's stunning chapel as there was a wedding taking place. I'd like to return and visit the chapel in the future.
After the tour, we went back into the hotel. Here's the beautiful hallway from a side entrance.
The hotel's architectural design includes replicas of California Missions. This is a replica of the San Gabriel Mission. While on the tour, we also saw a replica of the San Juan Capistrano Mission.
My beautiful ladies and I. My dear friend Jules Day, who is a fantastic jazz vocalist, actually lives in Riverside. She told us she has performed in the hotel before and been coming down to the Mission Inn every weekend for the festivity, but this was the first time she went on the tour. She discovered new things inside the hotel that she didn't know before.
While we were on the tour, these two macaws, named Napoleon and Josephine (after the original pair that Frank and his wife owned), seemed to recognize our guide. As our guide was talking to us, they kept saying "hello!" "bye bye!" and "good boy!" loudly to her. It was so funny and hard for her to keep a straight face guiding the tour when we stopped by the cage.
Beautiful Christmas tree inside the hotel.
Front entrance of the hotel.
Frank Miller's art collections are scattered throughout the hotel property. Here is a 3500 lbs bell from a Nan Jing temple in China.
We saw Casey's Cupcakes right next to the side entrance of the hotel. I actually watched the last few episodes of their winning the Cupcake Wars on the Food Network.
We were not going to pass up on their cupcakes! We tried their flavor of the month, Gingerbread (loved it!),
Red Velvet (meh...It was too chocolatey),
and Pumpkin (thumbs up!).
While enjoying the cupcakes, the lights came on! Some of the figurines also moves. The whole place came to life!
Everyone loved the train!
This stunning show of lights put us in a chirpy holiday spirit. :)
There were Cinderella horse carriages passing through another side entrance of the hotel. It was so romantic.
View from another corner of the hotel.
I loved this Santa climbing up the chimney.
The front entrance of Mission Inn with all the lights on. Breathtaking!
All these lights transformed the hotel into a magical place at night.
There's a cute gingerbread shop out on the promenade.
There were also live reindeer.
One last look of the Mission Inn before we left.
For us visiting from Los Angeles, we were all surprised by this place and the rich history it has. We were happy to have discovered this stunning place in Riverside!
View photo album here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/purplejoy/sets/72157628378190727/