Master Museums

Museums & Landmarks


No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many museums. California has a reputation as a haven for people with creative minds, and you can see this in its multifaceted cultural offerings. Arts abound here in four main formats: large-scale, world-class organizations; smaller, quirkier museums, often showcasing the Golden State’s history and its abundant idiosyncratic subcultures (think surfers, Silicon Valley techno-wizards, and Peanuts aficionados).

When the weather hinders traditional camping activities (or not) stretch your mind with a visit to one of California’s museums. Need more encouragement? Top 10 Reasons to Visit a Museum

California Missions

The missions of California were Spanish settlements initiated by Spanish King Charles III and built between between 1769 and 1823. The chain of 21 primary missions along California’s El Camino Real (“The King’s Highway”) established a unified system of commerce for the whole area in advance of the founding of towns and cities. These farms, each located 1 day’s journey away from the next would ensure a contiguous trade route along the coast. Modern day U.S. Highway 101 follows the general route of the original trail.

The Spanish had already claimed this land over 200 years earlier, but didn’t start settling it until they heard of plans by other powers to settle the area. The missions were a way of laying claim to the area. Life for the California Native Americans was forever changed. In addition to Christianity, the missions brought many other things to California such as livestock, fruits, flowers, grains and industry.

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Missionary activities thoroughly disrupted not only coastal tribes, but their demand for healthy laborers seriously impacted adjacent interior tribes. Massive herds on introduced stock animals and new seed crops soon crowded out aboriginal game animals and native plants. Epidemic diseases swept through the Mission Indian tribes resulting in thousands of deaths.

In 1834, Mexico’s Secularization Laws were ratified, bringing the mission system to an effective end over a ten-year period. Using secularization, the mission lands were quickly moved through tribal possesion and then into private hands and the Indians effectively banished from them. Likewise, the buildings in the mission system were often routinely looted and the materials used for private construction. Without roofs and routine maintenance the adobe walls often just dissolved away in the rains.

Through acts of Congress and court actions in the 1850’s and 1860’s the mission properties were largely returned to the Church. The Church was not always able to take on the burden of maintenance, however, so some missions continued their decline.

Fortunately, over time, the importance of the missions was recognized by various restoration groups and the mission chain continues restoration activities to this day.

Every one of the California missions tell a story about the history of California. All have been, to some extent, restored and can be visited today. Download free printable maps here and learn more about the history surrounding the California Mission system at MissionTour.org and the California Native American Heritage Commission websites.

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Top Museums & Landmarks Attractions

Alcatraz Island
Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, Death Valley Junction
Balboa Park
Balboa Park
Battery Point Lighthouse, Crescent City
Bodie State Historic Park
Bowers Museum, Santa Ana
Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, Bakersfield
Cable Cars
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, Desert Hot Springs
California Academy of Sciences
California Living Museum
California State Capitol & Museum
California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento
Carson Mansion, Eureka
Charles M Schultz Museum, Santa Rosa
Children’s Museum of the Sierras
Columbia State Historic Park, Columbia
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento
Crystal Cathedral
Daffodil Hill, Sutter Creek
Death Valley National Park
Donner Memorial State Park
Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley
Explorit Science Center
Fairytale Town
Hearst Castle State Historical Monument, San Simeon
Historic Lumber Town Museum, Weed
Historic Railroad Square, Santa Rosa
julian-mining-company
Julian Mining Company
Lombard Street
Mill Tour and Museum, Scotia
National Steinbeck Center, Salinas
National Yo Yo Museum, Chico
Old Sacramento
Orange Empire Railway Museum, Perris
palomar-observatory
Palomar Observatory
reuben-science-center
Reuben H Fleet Science Center
Roots of Motive Power, Willits
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa
Shasta Dam Tour
Skunk Train, Fort Bragg
South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa
Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park
The Getty Center, Los Angeles
uss-midway
USS Midway Museum
Western Pacific Railroad Museum, Portola
Westwood Museum

Museums & Landmarks Activities

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

Located in Palm Springs, Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is a not-for-profit organization that preserves, interprets, …
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Central Valley Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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Desert Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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Discover Trains at Railtown

RailTown 1897 Historic Park Located in Jamestown, in California’s Gold Country, Railtown 1897 State Historic …
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Fallon House Home to Sierra Repertory Theatre Company

A stone cutter from Ireland, Owen Fallon arrived in Columbia with his family in 1856. …
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Gold Country Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles

With over 4,107 acres of natural terrain covered with California oak trees, wild sage and …
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High Sierra Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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Inland Empire Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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Los Angeles Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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North Coast Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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Not Just Unique… One of a Kind

Transport yourself back in time aboard the legendary Queen Mary. Once the grandest ocean liner …
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Orange County Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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Ride a Stagecoach

Shotgun! While you can’t ride shotgun on this trip you can go back in time …
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san-diego-museums
San Diego Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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San Francisco Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is recognized as the best seaside park in the world. …
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Shasta Cascade Trinity Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many …
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The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands

In 2001, Walter and Leonore Annenberg established The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands to “address …
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Start planning for you next California Museums & Landmarks Adventure:

Califormia Mission: San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was founded 3 June 1770 (2nd in order) by …
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California Mission: La Purisima Concepcion

Mission La Purísima Concepción was founded 8 December 1787 (11th in order) by Padre Fermin …
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California Mission: Nuestra Senora de la Soledad

Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad was founded 9 October 1791 (13th in order) by …
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California Mission: San Antonio de Padua

Mission San Antonio de Padua was founded 14 July 1771 (3rd in order) by Blessed …
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California Mission: San Buenaventura, Ventura

Mission San Buenaventura was founded 31 March 1782 (9th in order) by Blessed Junípero Serra. …
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California Mission: San Diego de Alcala

Mission San Diego de Alcalá was founded 16 July 1769 (1st in order) by Blessed …
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