Our Mission – the Santa Barbara Mission
Our Tour Guests Have St. Junipero Serra in Mind
Santa Barbara is a reasonable, and quite beautiful, drive north from Los Angeles and a lovely excuse for a day trip out of the city. Like Los Angeles, a city on the coast, there is a harbor and beaches and a lovely pier right in downtown Santa Barbara. The red-tiled roofs signal our arrival after the extraordinary views of the Pacific Ocean and California coast. Generally, we explore State Street, its shops, galleries and restaurants, the old Arlington Theater and after that most of our guests are interested in heading over the San Marcos Mountains to visit the nearby wine region. However, on this particular trip our guests were much more interested in spending time at the Santa Barbara Mission. Of the 21 missions along El Camino Real (the King’s Highway, really just a mule trail at the time), the mission at Santa Barbara draws huge crowds and is referred to as the Queen of the Missions. Over the 85 years of mission construction in California this was the third one built and is one of the most popular mission destinations in the state. There is no doubt that the Spanish settlements led to the development of the area in terms of agriculture and shipping, made the first inroads into water transport and irrigation, and began the colonization that would result in California becoming the state that it is today. But the mission story is not without controversy. The recently canonized Junipero Serra is not always celebrated for his zeal and persistence in creating the network of Franciscan colonies. That is a story we can share with our private Los Angeles tour guests who are curious about this period of California history. There are seven missions we can visit in Southern California to make a custom El Camino Real journey for history buffs spending time in Los Angeles.