March 11, 2019

Benedict Castle & Jensen Alvarado Ranch

DayTripper Tours takes you on fascinating trips to a great variety of destinations and today’s tour took us to two very different “homes” in the same day. Benedict Castle conjured up visions of noble kings and queens, while Alvarado Ranch provided a hands-on view of life on a large farm at the end of the 19th century. Both locations are in Riverside and with driver Carolyn behind the wheel, it was a smooth and pleasant ride as we picked up passengers at Grossmont Center, Mission Valley, University City and Escondido.  It was a chilly morning as we made our way northward past hillsides of blooming poppies.

The recent rains had greened up the usually brown countryside making it look more like Ireland than Southern California. After a comfort stop in Murrieta, we arrived at our first stop, Benedict Castle where they were waiting to serve us an elegant lunch inside. The castle was built by Charles Williston Benedict, a native of Riverside.  After graduating high school, he traveled Europe rather than attend college and came back a rich man.  He wanted a castle residence like The Alhambra with its Spanish/Moorish architecture that he had seen in Grenada, Spain. To accomplish this he hired architect Henry Jeckel known for building the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

There are 19 rooms within the walls of the 10,000 square foot castle. Perhaps the most unique room was the domed breakfast room.  In here, we could clearly hear whispers made across the room because of the near perfect acoustics!  Lunch was served in the grand banquet hall on tables draped with white linen tablecloths, cloth napkins, china, silver and glass. It was all very fitting.

Afterwards, our docents led us around the castle providing excellent photo opportunities as we imagined what life would be like to live in such a place. Leaving the castle on our way to the Alvarado Ranch, Carolyn drove us around the famous Mission Inn, over the hill a few miles away. Soon, however, we felt a few centuries away as we approached the historic 30 acre Alvarado Ranch down a long dirt driveway. At this living history interpretive museum, we peeked into the past and felt the rhythm of farm life from the 1870’s. After listening to a brief introduction in the barn, we divided into two groups.

One group toured the red brick farm house built by retired sea captain Cornelius Jensen for his wife Mercedes Alvarado and their 10 children. Walking through the furnished rooms we could easily imagine the hustle and bustle of a large family living there.  Outside, the second group didn’t have to imagine. They were actually doing the chores.  Whether it was churning butter, cranking the ice cream maker, or making tortillas, the Daytripper passengers were smiling and laughing. But perhaps the biggest reaction was when a baby lamb was brought to us from the field. Holding this bleating baby as he was passed from the arms of one person to the arms of another was an experience we will not forget. As our departure time neared I heard, “I don’t want to leave yet.”  That’s the kind of day it was.  That’s why traveling with Daytripper Tours leaves you with memories for a lifetime.

– Pat Brown
DayTripper Tour Manager
Tour: Benedict Castle & Jensen Alvarado Ranch Tours
Date: March 8, 2019


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