The Old Mission Santa Barbara sits majestically atop a rise between the Pacific Ocean and the Saint Ynez Mountains, a locale that doesn’t just offer incredible views, but also a varied and fascinating history.
Established by Padre Fermín Lasuén on December 4, 1786, this site became an integral hub for missionaries seeking to convert the Native American peoples that occupied the surrounding land. In 1812, a massive quake leveled the existing buildings, but just a short eight years later the entire mission was rebuilt, in what historians theorize to be quite a comparable manner to the original design and layout.
Despite several other notable natural disasters and heavy development in the area, most elements on the inside of the structures remain unchanged since 1820. Today, the Old Mission Santa Barbara is the only mission which has been under the leadership of Franciscan Friars since its establishment.
Outside of the drafty, old buildings, the sprawling, impeccably landscaped grounds are peppered with shady nooks, impressive flower beds, and lovely views. The Mission Rose Garden that lies directly across from the buildings contains over a thousand different varieties of fragrant, colorful roses. These well-tended beds encircle a large, well kept grassy area in which visitors can be found throwing a Frisbee or reading a novel belly-down on a blanket. Views from the field contain both mountains and sea, and the surrounding Spanish Colonial houses are of historical importance and provide an air of distinct authenticity.
Even if Catholic history is of no importance, there's a lot to enjoy on a day trip to the Old Mission Santa Barbara, and when the sun is shining, there is hardly a locale in Santa Barbara that rivals these pristine grounds.