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Read some grave markers at Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Why: In 1776, weeks before most of the Founding Fathers got around to signing the Declaration of Independence back east, Franciscan padres founded Mission Dolores, sixth in the Alta California chain. Several years later, the padres and their recruits moved it to the current location, where it survived the great quake and fires of 1906. In fact, it's the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco. 

What: Formally, this is the Mission San Francisco de Asís, but everyone says Dolores. Right behind the building lies the cemetery, where an estimated 5,000 Ohlone, Miwok and other native people are buried along with several Irish immigrants and other 19th century California pioneers. Note the wooden markers for Jocbocme (baptized Obulinda) and Poylemja (baptized Faustino), who died early in the 19th century. The mission's little museum could use more text to explain its place in history, but it does have more information and exhibits on native life than most of the missions do.Wondering why there's an Alfred Hitchcock bobblehead doll for sale in the gift shop? Part of his "Vertigo" was shot in the cemetery in 1957. 

Ceiling, Mission Dolores (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Ceiling, Mission Dolores (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Also, be sure to nip next door to the much grander Mission Dolores Basilica for a look at the stained glass windows. There's one for each of the 21 Franciscan missions in Alta California.

Where: 3321 16th St, San Francisco, 382 miles northwest of downtown L.A.

How much: For self-guided tours, the suggested donation is $7 per adult, $5 per student. To worship next door at the Basilica, it's free.

Info: Mission Dolores

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