SANTA BARBARA ATTRACTIONS
Mission Santa Barbara
Known as "The Queen of the Missions," Mission Santa
Bárbara in California was founded on December 4, 1786 by Father
Fermín Francisco de Lasuén, who had taken over the Presidency
of the California mission chain upon the death of Father Junípero
Serra. It was the tenth mission founded, and was named for Saint Barbara.
The Mission sits on a rise overlooking both the City of Santa Barbara
and the Pacific Ocean; the Santa Ynez Mountains rise almost 4,000 feet
in back. During the first few years, there were three churches built,
each larger than the previous one. It was only after the great 1812 earthquake,
which destroyed the previous buildings, that the current Mission was begun.
The towers again sustained considerable damage in a 1925 earthquake, but
were subsequently rebuilt. The appearance of the inside of the church
has not been altered since 1820. Many elements of the Mission's extensive
water treatment system, all built by Indian labor (including aqueducts,
two reservoirs, and a filter house) remain to this day, as does a grain
mill; the larger reservoir, which was built in 1806, has been incorporated
into the city's water system.
Mission Santa Bárbara is the only mission to remain under the
leadership of the Franciscan Friars since the day of its founding until
today. The original City of Santa Barbara developed between the Mission
proper and the harbor, specifically near the Royal Spanish Presidio, about
a mile southeast of the Mission. The Mission Santa Bárbara today
continues to serve the community as a parish church.
Shoreline Park was originally a landfill for San Francisco garbage.
After the landfill closed, it was turned into a city park, with golf course
and artificial lake. A video on the history of the park is available at
the Mountain View public library.
The Waterfront is at the Heart of Santa Barbara beauty and a great source
of entertainment. You'll find three beaches, several excellent restaurants,
a wharf, a museum, a harbor and a skate park. If you are visiting Santa
Barbara, this is an absolute must-see.
This gorgeous but functional structure is just 75 years old but it has
the look and feel of a 200 year old Spanish Colonial. If you are planning
to visit, make a point of going to the top of the tower - the view is
The Zoological Gardens
One of the nation's best small zoos, this is a visit for the entire family.
The Zoo was developed like a park, with plenty of picnic and open areas.
The animals are easily viewed and the setting is intimate. They say its
a small zoo but there are 600 animals!
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
This wonderful museum boasts an excellent combination of permanent and
special exhibits. Although it's not an enormous museum (you can see it
all in about 90 minutes), it has an impressive permanent collection of
Asian art that is a must-see.
El Presidio State Historic Park
One of the most significant historical buildings in Santa Barbara, El
Presidio has been reconstructed faithfully based on historic and archeological
evidence. It combines great beauty and real function, as it is the home
for many events throughout the year.
Casa de La Guerra
Another must see. From the outside you'd never really know that this was
a wonderful museum with some fabulous vignettes. Since it was initially
built (~1817) the Casa has been the center of civic, political and even
The Museum of Natural History
One of the many surprise finds, this excellent museum displays the flora
and fauna of Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands. There is also an extensive
section on Prehistoric Native American life.
The Botanic Gardens
These wonderful gardens are a bit out of the way, but definitely worth
the trip. There are many events planned by the Gardens staff that give
dyed-in-the-wool botanists and new enthusiasts alike something to learn.
Santa Barbara Historical Society Museum
This museum features both permanent and changing exhibits that share Santa
Barbara's colorful past from the Native American age to modern times.
The Maritime Museum
This is a fascinating small museum located right on the waterfront. It
is filled with artifacts, displays and history all about the impact of
the sea on the local inhabitants ranging from the Chumash to present times.
Stow House & Railroad Museum
Built by a prominent ranching family in 1873, Stow House is a rambling
two story house and is the oldest frame house in the Goleta Valley. The
Railroad Museum offers antique railroad artifacts, photographs and hands-on
exhibits are shown in the agency office and the passenger waiting room.