Begun as a 12-room adobe boarding house in 1876, this institution morphed into a Mission-style wonderland as it grew from 1902 to 1931. Even when it isn't dolled up for Christmas, the courtyards, fountains, tilework and three restaurants make this 239-room resort a marvel. Rates begin at $169, less with an AAA or AARP membership. Info: (951) 784-0300, http://www.missioninn.com.
Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times
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