Now I know how the orange industry started in Southern California and its relevance to The Mission Inn. In the late 1880’s a group of people started their own colony in Riverside and found success growing orange trees from two grafts which were provided by the US Dept of Agriculture. The area grew like gangbusters because of the blooming citrus industry and visitors seeking sunshine.

Calif naval oranges

California Naval Oranges

Seizing on the opportunity, Mission Inn owner Frank Miller expanded The Mission Inn over the years to accommodate tourists, Hollywood elite, dignitaries and investors. Each wing has a different design using Spanish, Asian, catacombs, turrets and spiral staircases. A tour of the property is definitely a good thing to do because there is so much to take in through out the city block.  You could spend a week there and still have questions about the courtyards and tucked away religious symbols, not to mention 800 bells acquired for Franks’  love, Bella.

The Mission Inn

The Mission Inn

Impressive Spanish Renaissance and Mission Rival buildings line the downtown streets among swaying palm trees.  Riverside had become a travel destination and now draws thousands of people to visit the spectacular holiday lighting festival.  There are many dining options and my dinner at the Mission Inn Restaurants was delightful. Sunday’s buffet brunch is very popular

Mission Inn squash blossoms

Mission Inn Restaurant squash blossoms

Standing downtown, I remembered as a kid our family driving past endless rows of orange groves in a Chevy station wagon and being fascinated with Riverside. California oranges are still the best!

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