Dressed in shorts, we took the lightrail to Union Station in downtown L.A., before hopping on Amtrak. There is no direct train to Riverside on Sundays. Instead, we got off in Fullerton and rode a bus the rest of the way. The weather was perfect—high 70s—but we could see snow-capped mountains in the distance. Ah, Southern California . . .
What started in 1876 as a twelve-room adobe guest house, designed to look like a mission, is now a renowned California landmark, where even presidents have stayed. There's a chapel and glorious courtyard and apparently every inch of public space is famously covered in lights and Christmas decorations during the holidays. We missed the light show by a day, but did see remnants, including a lovely tree in the lobby and human-sized angels standing on the interior balconies.
We next went in search of lunch. Coincidentally, I had just read about Tio's Tacos, #69 on Los Angeles Magazine's list of 100 "hidden gems," located just a few blocks from the hotel. What a find! Not only was the food amazing—and inexpensive, too—but the entire place was festooned in fascinating outsider art created by the owner. Mostly enormous figures, the art is made from recycled items (e.g., cans, bottles, small electronic devices, etc.) and reminded me of a more primitive Watts Towers.