San José—the largest and most impressive of the San Antonio Missions—has evolved not only into a historic monument, but also a well-preserved part of modern local life. Part visitor center, part parish, part museum, and part natural space, it's operated by both the National Park Service and the church.
The community was established in the 1700s by Spanish missionaries, who converted many Native Americans and taught them how to farm and work the land in exchange for protection.
Today the buildings and grounds are open to the public for tours, wandering, and worship. The active parish holds a lively and popular Mariachi Mass at 12:30 p.m. on Sundays that's not to be missed. The parks service offers walking tours and a great short film about mission life. If you're feeling energetic, ride a B-Cycle bike to visit all four missions and park it at convenient kiosks placed throughout the parks.