Mission San Buenaventura or 'Mission by the Sea' is the 9th California Mission founded on Easter Sunday: March 31, 1782. It was the last Mission under the vision of Padre Serra. The current church was built between 1792 and 1809 making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in California. Native Chumash created an aqueduct with a steady water supply allowing the mission to flourish and create beautiful gardens which can still be enjoyed to this day.
Founded in 1772, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was the fifth of the California Missions. A successful hunting expedition of grizzly bears to feed the Spanish and Native Americans at the mission in Monterey nearby led to the founding of this mission with the nickname 'Mission in the Valley of the Bears'. Abundant food & water, a mild climate and friendly Native American Chumash allowed the mission to thrive.
Off the Central Coast lies Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Channel Islands owned by the National Park Service and Nature Conservancy. Inhabited by Chumash Native Americans for at least 10,000 years, they called the island 'Limuw' meaning 'in the sea'. Legend has it that the Chumash found a priest's staff left behind from the Spanish Portola expedition of 1769 and returned it. The island was then named 'La Isla de Santa Cruz' or 'Island of the Sacred Cross' from this friendly gesture.
Santa Cruz Island is the largest island in California and contains 77 miles of varied coastline from sandy shores to rocky coves. More than 600 plant species dot the island while eight grow nowhere else on Earth. A highlight to the island is spotting the curious Island Fox. Hikes for every skill level can be explored in this marvelous place for solitude.
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel is the 4th of the California Missions and was founded in 1771. It is one of the most affluent, best preserved missions and became the spiritual center of the San Gabriel Valley. The mission was created by the Spanish to teach Native Americans farming and industry and convert them to Christianity. The mission museum and grounds are the perfect way to experience what life would have been like.
El Pueblo de Los Ángeles Historical Monument or Olvera Street is the oldest section of Los Angeles. Founded in 1781, the settlement was started by just 44 people and grew to be a social and commercial hub into what would be one of the largest cities in the world. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, today, Olvera Street is a colorful market celebration of Los Angeles' Spanish and Mexican heritage.
Mission San Juan Capistrano in Orange County is known as the 'Jewel of the Missions'. Founded in 1775, it was the 7th of the 21 California Missions. Its main purpose was to teach and convert the Native Americans to the new Spanish way of life. At its peak in the early 19th century, the mission was home to 1,000 people.
The earthquake of 1812, lack of funding, Mexican Independence along with disease that the Spanish had brought with them proved too much and the mission system ended in 1834. Today, the beautiful grounds are a great way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon and learn the history of the missions. The famous swallows return to the Mission every March which is commemorated on St. Joseph's Day.
Mission Santa Inés, established in 1804, was created to help convert the Chumash Native Americans to the Spanish way of life. Being the 19th established Mission, it served as a link between Santa Barbara and Lompoc. The Chumash revolted this new way of life in February of 1824. They fought for their freedom which eventually led to them fleeing into the mountains. The Mission system ended in 1833 after Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821. Today, Mission Santa Inés has been beautifully restored against the rolling green backdrop of the Santa Ynez Valley in Solvang.
In the center of historic Santa Barbara, is the famous La Arcada. With entrances on State Street and Figueroa, La Arcada is charming with its Spanish courtyard, fountains and bronze statues. Beautiful galleries, shops and restaurants fill the tile-lined streets. Myron Hunt designed this timeless SB landmark in 1926.