6:37 PM: That's our very favorite time of day at the Mission Inn. And that's pretty much any season, too. In the summertime? The light is getting warm and burnished on the famous, stone-laden hotel. In the winter? Well, it is dark by that time, but if it is November or December, the property is lit up in millions of twinkly little lights. So 6:37 p.m. it is, for us. What's your perfect Mission Inn minute? Many people probably choose the evening hours, when the gothic-y Spanish windows begin to glow and the restaurants dishes start to clatter and the whole scene takes on a mellow, elegant, low-lit atmosphere. It seems like the perfect time for a tour of the historic, rambling hotel, which is perhaps one reason that the hotel now has one, as part of a larger stay-over package. It's called History Under the Stars.
ABOUT THE PACKAGE: You'll get a deluxe room for two and dinner for two at the Mission Inn Restaurant -- nice and nice. Room and board, the two components of any fine hotel deal. But the excellent extra? It's the 7:30 p.m. tour. A docent leads it, and you can bet you'll hear all about the architecture and the nooks and the crannies and the staircases and the towers and minarets. The hotel famously started coming together in the 19th century in a variety of styles, so there will be much to talk about, both in terms of style and story. The cost? It starts at $249 for everything mentioned here; that's double occupancy. But note that it'll wrap up about a week ahead of the holiday lights opening, so you'll want to plan your late summer or fall trip ahead of that. What Mission Inn secrets will you learn?