Old Mission Santa Barbara
Travel back in time to Santa Barbara’s earliest days at the historic Old Mission Santa Barbara. With its grand double bell towers, lush gardens and the majestic San Ynez mountains as a backdrop, the Mission is one of the city’s most picturesque landmarks. Known as “Queen of the Missions” for its exceptional beauty, the Santa Barbara Mission was founded by the Spanish Franciscans in 1786. More than 200 years later, it’s still an active parish church and a vital and enduring element of Santa Barbara’s cultural landscape.
History comes alive as you explore the grounds, church and on-site museum, where you’ll see fascinating 17th-century art, artifacts, tools and re-creations of the Mission’s living quarters and kitchen, complete with an original adobe wall. Outdoors, you can admire the building’s graceful architecture, explore the colorful gardens and take in expansive views of the city and the Pacific Ocean. Don’t miss the La Huerta Historical Garden, which takes you on a botanical trip back to the 1800s. Wander among citrus trees, olives, Sonoran wheat, sugar cane and other plants true to the Mission era.
Note that because the Old Mission Santa Barbara is an active parish, the church is not open for tours during its services. Inside the church are notable sculptures and paintings and a unique altar built by the native Chumash people, so check the church schedule before you go to make sure you don’t miss out on seeing it.