our first stop on our highway 1 road trip – after lunch at jack in the box – was the old mission in santa barbara. i can’t remember how i first heard about the old mission, but i talked it up enough to my parents that they were also intrigued.
we barely made it in time, rolling up 15 minutes before ticket sales closed for the day. even so, the one hour we had was more than enough to learn about the old mission and to marvel at its beauty.
founded in 1786, the old mission is one of 21 missions founded in california by the spanish franciscans. the land originally belonged to chumash indians who had settled in santa barbara, and the museum showcases the history of the chumash as well as the franciscans who settled there.
as it is still a functioning mission, there are parts that are off-limits to visitors, but you can get an idea of how the first missionaries lived and how the spaces have evolved over the last 200 years. in particular, my mother loved the gardens, my father the church interior, and i the mausoleum.
one of the things i loved best about the mission, however, was the view from its front steps. the mission sits high on the hills of santa barbara, and from the front steps you have a view clear down to the bottom of the city. i loved the green space out front, perfect for a picnic, and it was great to see locals and tourists mingling in the space.
some things to keep in mind if you’re planning a visit:
- the mission is open daily from 9am-4.15pm year round, except between july 3-labor day, when it stays open until 5.15pm. ticket sales close 1 hour before the mission closes.
- we did the self-guided tour and took our time walking around, but public and private guided tours are also available.
- the parking lot stays open for about 45 minutes after the mission closes, so visitors are welcome to stay and wander the grounds after going through the museum.
- tickets are $9 for adults, $7 for seniors / active military with id, and $4 for youth age 5-17. parking is free in the attached lot.