For my 23rd Birthday I took a road-trip up Highway 101 from San Diego to San Francisco. We traveled through 440 exits following El Camino Real, passing all 21 of California’s missions.
-Pictures of Old Mission Santa Barbara have been published with permission. Redistribution of these photos in any kind is PROHIBITED-
$9 admission, 9am to 5pm
The first thing you notice walking into this Mission are the absolutely gorgeous gardens. They were planted and maintained by the natives who once occupied this Mission and are now kept up by the volunteers. The gardens alone make the Mission stand out to me Especially when I compare it to more local Missions that I have seen before such as the San Diego de Alcala Mission.
The church on the grounds is absolutely breath taking. Although it has been reconstructed, it appears the same as its original construction in 1820. What is interesting is that there is actually an underground crypt beneath the alter. It most notably contains the remains of Juana Marie, the lost girl from Island of the Blue Dolphins.
The entire Santa Barbara Mission contains beautiful art, whether it be paintings, statues, or colorful architecture. The three statues above were carved by a Chumash (native american tribe) man.
The last thing I learned about Santa Barbara, is Saint Barbara’s story. When Saint Barbara admitted to being Christian, her father locked her up in a tower. She swore to a life of celibacy and rejected offers of marriage. Her father tortured her and beheaded her himself. Story has it, when hebeheaded her he was immediately struck and killed by lightning.
After reading this story “Santa Barbara” struck as more than just a beautiful city. I am grateful that women and martyrs can be acknowledged here.
I almost did not stop at the Santa Barbara Mission, assuming if you had seen one you had seen them all. But Old Mission Santa Barbara is probably the most beautiful Mission I have ever come across. It is rich with colorful plants, architecture, art, and history. It is definitely a must see along Highway 101 or Pacific Coast Highway.
$12 ($8 students) admission, 9am to 5pm
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is just a few minutes away from the Old Mission Santa Barbara. It holds over 1000 different types of plants including flowers, desert vegetation, coastal redwoods, and more. Walking through this garden really puts into perspective the diversity of California’s botany that, for many natives like myself, often goes unnoticed.
Although the garden contains 10 different sections, it is actually quite small. It took us about an hour to venture throughout the entire area.