Old Mission Santa Barbara#4 in Best Things To Do in Santa Barbara
In the northwest part of town just four blocks from State Street, the Santa Barbara Mission offers visitors a glimpse at the city's early origins.
Founded in 1786, this Californian mission was Spain's 10th attempt to colonize the region and convert the native inhabitants to Roman Catholicism. Still a functioning house of worship, the Santa Barbara Mission boasts a museum filled with colonial artifacts and early photographs of the area.
Also known as the Queen of Missions, the mission grounds also feature La Huerta, a garden that showcases Spain's agricultural influence on the California landscape, housing plants dating back to when the mission was established.
Travelers say the mission is a must-see for history buffs. "I was surprised how much I liked this spot. This mission is set on a hill so it has a a beautiful view sloping down Santa Barbara toward the coast. The building and gardens are lovely, and the folks who work there are very friendly," according to one TripAdvisor user.
The mission is open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.-5:15 p.m. daily depending on the season. Admission costs $9 for adults, $4 for kids 5-17 and free for kids 4 and younger. Or you could pay $9 for adult admission and a docent-led tour ($4 for children): those are offered on Thursdays and Fridays at 11 a.m., and on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit the official website.
More Best Things To Do in Santa Barbara
#1 State Street
Santa Barbara's most famous avenue, State Street cuts through downtown and leads right onto Stearns Wharf. It's nearly impossible to miss with its shops, art galleries, theaters and museums like the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. You can grab a ride on the electric shuttle for 50 cents, but most travelers and locals recommend you walk to truly appreciate the ambiance.
After a few hours of shopping — with more than 300 shops and stores — visitors usually slide into a chair at one of the 160 local restaurants to refuel.
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