The first mission erected in California was Mission San Diego del Alcala (10818 San Diego Mission Rd., www.missionsandiego.com , daily 9 a.m.–4:45 p.m.). It was blessed by Father Junipero Serra in 1769, making it the first Christian church in California. Ironically, it was also the poorest Mission  for most of its hey-dey.
Native Americans raided and burned it, the harsh soil resisted cultivation, and eventually the Mexican independence from Spain rendered the church a secular building.
Time and renovation came to the Mission, and it was re-established as a sacred space. It still operates as an active Catholic church today; if you visit, please respect the Mission as a house of worship even as you appreciate its significance as a museum.
The church you see is actually the fifth church built on this site, erected and fortified against California’s infamous earthquakes. One of the bells in the tower is original (dating to 1801).
Inside, you’ll see evidence of the life of the Franciscan monks who operated the Mission until 1834, and of the native Kumeyaay people who lived here before the Europeans came and whose lives were changed forever by their arrival.