In the heart of Riverside resides a block-long hotel that plays host to 3.6 million lights during the holiday season. The Mission Inn, originally established in 1876 as a two story adobe boarding house, grew in size over the subsequent decades to become the pride of Riverside. 10 U.S. presidents have crossed its threshold, and with good reason.
It is lovely inside. Home to over 400 bells, some of them centuries old, lovingly collected by the previous owner, this Spanish-style beauty is charming to wander around. And during the holiday season, you’ll have to fight the hundreds and hundreds of people who come to gawk at the lights each night to do so. My recommendation – come early, see it by day, have dinner around 4pm, watch the lights as they turn on at the comfort of your table around 5pm, and you’re set (we were on the patio of the Mexican restaurant Las Campanas). Of course, viewing the lights with a nice margarita makes it even better.
We of course benefited from one of the tenants of the Mission Inn - Casey’s Cupcakes, the 2011 Cupcake Wars winner. Yum! Who said you can’t have dessert before dinner?
And when the lights come on, what were lovely features by day became even more lovely by night.
The Mission Inn
3649 Mission Inn Avenue
Riverside, CA 92501