If you stop at one of the original missions during a tour of California, this one should be your No. 1 pick. Originally built in 1786 and constructed of adobe brick with a thatched roof, the building was damaged in an earthquake in 1812. The present and rebuilt structure is an actual operating Catholic church, so you must schedule tours around mass times. The grounds of the mission are stunning, and many people simply tour the outside, where they can enjoy the flora and the fountains or stop for a picnic lunch. The mission is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and admission is $5.