Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara is one of the most significant sites in Santa Barbara, California, with a rich history extending back over two centuries. The Spanish Franciscans constructed Mission Santa Barbara in 1786, and it is renowned as the 'Queen of the Missions' due to its remarkable size and excellent architecture.

Mission Santa Barbara has played a significant role in California's cultural history, functioning as a center of study, art, and music. It is one of only two California missions that has never been abandoned or demolished, and it is still in use today. The mission also has a long history of education, being California's first college and Santa Barbara's first library.

As part of his tour of the United States in 1987, Pope John Paul II stopped by the Santa Barbara Mission. He gave a speech to the thousands of people who had assembled at the mission and performed Mass in the old church.

In 1951, on her trip to California, Princess Takamatsu stopped by the Santa Barbara Mission. Franciscan friars reportedly gave her a personal tour of the mission, where she was profoundly moved by its beauty and rich history.

Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, as well as First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Nancy Reagan, have all paid visits to Mission Santa Barbara over the years.

Hollywood superstars like Cary Grant, John Wayne, and Jennifer Aniston have all been reported to have visited Mission Santa Barbara at some point in their careers.

Mission Santa Barbara is still an operational church and a popular site for Catholic pilgrims and visitors seeking spiritual renewal. The mission's church houses a wonderful collection of religious artwork, including a gorgeous statue of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Things to do in Mission Santa Barbara

  • Take a tour: There are many different types of guided tours available at the mission, each focusing on a different aspect of the mission's cultural and spiritual value as well as its history and architecture. Experts offer tours of this California icon, which are a fantastic way to learn more about it.
  • Visit the Church: the chapel that serves as the centerpiece of the mission and is a prime example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Attending worship services is optional; sightseers can also see the church's stunning architecture and artwork.
  • Explore the Gardens: Go for a stroll through the mission's gorgeous gardens, which feature a plethora of plants and flowers as well as twisting walks and fountains. The grounds are a wonderful spot to unwind and take in the tranquility of the mission.
  • Visit the Museum: The mission's museum is worth a look, with displays highlighting the area's cultural past and artifacts from the mission itself. Visitors to the mission can learn about both the native Chumash people and the Franciscan friars who served them.
  • Attend cultural events: Cultural events, such as concerts, art exhibits, and Native American rites, are held frequently at Mission Santa Barbara. These gatherings showcase California's cultural legacy to tourists in stunning, historically significant locations.
  • Take pictures: With its spectacular architecture, beautiful gardens, and historic artifacts, Mission Santa Barbara is a hotspot for photographers.

Old Mission Santa Barbara: A Historic Landmark of Faith and Cultural Heritage

Old Mission Santa Barbara was established in 1786, serving as the tenth of twenty-one missions founded by Spanish Franciscan friars along the California coast. The mission's architecture reflects the Spanish Colonial style, characterized by red-tiled roofs, whitewashed walls, and intricate craftsmanship, creating a serene and elegant ambiance.

  1. The Role of the Mission in Early California - Old Mission Santa Barbara played a vital role in the spiritual, cultural, and economic development of early California, serving as a center for religious teachings, agriculture, and education.
  2. Faith and Spirituality: A Place of Worship and Reflection - As an active parish, the mission continues to serve as a place of worship, providing spiritual solace, and a welcoming environment for prayer and reflection.
  3. Cultural Heritage and Artistic Treasures - The mission houses a remarkable collection of religious artifacts, artworks, and historical objects, preserving the legacy of California's early history and artistic heritage.
  4. Beautiful Gardens and Scenic Surroundings - Surrounded by lush gardens and picturesque landscapes, Old Mission Santa Barbara offers a serene and scenic setting, perfect for peaceful strolls and moments of tranquility.
  5. Community Engagement: Preserving the Past, Embracing the Present - The mission actively engages with the local community, offering educational programs, cultural events, and outreach initiatives that celebrate its historical and contemporary significance.
  6. Events and Festivities: Celebrating Tradition - Throughout the year, the mission hosts various events and festivities, including religious celebrations, concerts, and cultural gatherings that honor its heritage and traditions.
  7. Visitor Experience: Tours and Exhibits - Visitors can explore the mission through guided tours, self-guided tours, and educational exhibits that provide insights into its history and significance.
  8. Gift Shop and Local Treasures - The mission's gift shop offers a diverse selection of souvenirs, religious items, and locally made crafts, providing visitors with an opportunity to take home a piece of the mission's spirit.
  9. Accessibility and Amenities - Old Mission Santa Barbara strives to be accessible to all visitors, offering amenities such as wheelchair accessibility and accommodating service animals.


Old Mission Santa Barbara stands as a timeless beacon of history, faith, and cultural heritage, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty and spirituality of California's past. As a beloved landmark of Santa Barbara, the mission continues to inspire and connect people of all backgrounds through its enduring legacy and profound sense of spirituality. Whether you seek a glimpse into the region's historical roots or a moment of quiet reflection, Old Mission Santa Barbara offers a sanctuary of peace and reverence, embracing all who step onto its hallowed grounds.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is Old Mission Santa Barbara?

A: Old Mission Santa Barbara is a Spanish mission founded in 1786. It is located in Santa Barbara, California, and is one of the 21 California Missions. The mission is a National Historic Landmark and is a popular tourist destination.

Q. What are some of the most popular things to do at Old Mission Santa Barbara?

A: Some of the most popular things to do at Old Mission Santa Barbara include:

  • Visit the mission church: The mission church is a beautiful example of Spanish colonial architecture.
  • Tour the mission grounds: The mission grounds are home to a number of historical buildings, including a museum, a cemetery, and a garden.
  • Attend a mass or service: The mission church hosts a variety of masses and services throughout the week.
  • Take a walking tour: There are a number of walking tours that are offered at the mission. These tours provide a great way to learn about the history of the mission and its significance.
  • Visit the gift shop: The mission gift shop sells a variety of souvenirs, books, and other items.

Q. What are the hours of operation for Old Mission Santa Barbara?

A: Old Mission Santa Barbara is open from 9am to 5pm daily. The mission is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Q. How do I get to Old Mission Santa Barbara?

A: Old Mission Santa Barbara is easily accessible by car, bus, and train.

  • By car: Old Mission Santa Barbara is located off of State Route 101. There is a large parking lot located near the mission.
  • By bus: The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) has a number of routes that serve Old Mission Santa Barbara.
  • By train: The Amtrak Coast Starlight train stops in Santa Barbara, which is a short walk from the mission.

Q. What are the best times to visit Old Mission Santa Barbara?

A: The best times to visit Old Mission Santa Barbara are during the week, when the mission is less crowded. However, the mission is also a great place to visit on weekends, as there are often special events and activities taking place.

Q. What are some tips for visiting Old Mission Santa Barbara?

A: Here are some tips for visiting Old Mission Santa Barbara:

  • Plan your visit ahead of time: Old Mission Santa Barbara is a popular tourist destination, so it is a good idea to plan your visit ahead of time and decide which activities you want to participate in.
  • Get a map: The mission offers a free map that is a great way to get oriented and find the buildings and attractions you are interested in.
  • Take your time: Old Mission Santa Barbara is a great place to wander around and explore, so take your time and don't feel like you have to see everything in one day.
  • Dress appropriately: The mission is a religious site, so it is important to dress appropriately. This means no shorts, tank tops, or revealing clothing.
  • imageDuration Required
    3 hours

Address of Mission Santa Barbara

2201 Laguna St, Santa Barbara, CA 93105-3611

Opening & Closing time of Mission Santa Barbara

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

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