Original Lompoc Mission Ruins

Recently, I set out to visit all of the California missions on one long road trip. It was an amazing experience that gave me a great appreciation for California’s preservation of these relics of our past. They are some of the oldest buildings in the United States as they date back to when Spain controlled California. You can read more about my time on the mission trail here. When I was La Purisima Mission State Historic Park the docent told me about the original Lompoc mission and how you can see the remains of it by traveling a few miles south, so I set out to check it out for myself. If you are visiting all the missions like I did then be sure to go to this historic site, here is all the information.

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Details

  • Free
  • Takes 5 minutes
  • Location: Near “520 S F St Lompoc, CA 93436”

Getting There

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The ruins are at the end of the culdesac of South F Street in Lompoc. Once you reach the end of the road you will see the plaque ahead of you.

The Plaque

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The plaque sitting at the end of the road is dedicated to the original location of the Lompoc mission. It tells about how the mission used to sit at this site and of its historical significance.

The Trail

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Across the street from the plaque there is a small trail that will take you to three other informational plaques which tell you about the mission. It takes less then 5 minutes to see them so I would recommend doing it.

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The trail starts right next to one of the houses and you will immediately see the stone wall that is a remenent of one of the walls of the mission. It is not much to see but there is some information next to it and flowers planted around it.

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From here there is another plaque about 10 feet away with more information about the mission.

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Lastly, there is a plaque another 30 feet from this one that talks about the remains of the aqueducts which are popping out of the dirt as well. There is not much to see here but you can tell that there used to be a structure here as well.

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All in all this is very short excursion, but one that will show you a little more of the California mission history. It is a great stop if you are into the history like I am but if not then you can probably skip it.

Junípero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill in San Diego

Located on the Presidio Hill in San Diego, the Father Juniper Serra Museum is a great spot for an event in San Diego or to explore if you are interested in California Mission history like I am. This museum is known as the site where California began as it is where the first mission was established in California (one of its first non Native America structures). I got a chance to check it out and here is all the information.

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Details

  • Cost: $6
  • Location: 2727 Presidio Dr, San Diego, CA 92103

Getting There

The museum is located at the top of Presidio Hill, which can be seen from Old Town San Diego and is a very recognizable site. The easiest way to get there is to take I-5 to I-8 E then get off on Taylor St, which will direct you to the Presidio, which is to the right and up the hill.

History

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The main mission in San Diego, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, is where you will dive into San Diego’s mission history, but this is where the first mission began. Father Serra elected to build the mission here because of its location overlooking the bay but then eventually moved it 4 miles East to be closer to the native population in the area and have a more consistent water supply. This museum as it appears now was built in the early 1900’s to house the area’s unique history.

The Museum

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The highlight of the museum for me is the exterior. This building was built in the same style and architecture as the California missions, so it has a beautiful facade that is the backdrop to many photos taken in San Diego.

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Walking across the street from the parking lot you will see the old bell which marks the El Camino Real road used to visit all of the missions. There is also three flags for USA, Mexico and Spain which all had a part in developing California as it is today.

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From here you can head up the stairs and see the beautiful archway before going into the museum proper.

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The museum has a fee of $6 to enter, and you will need to decide how much you care about the history before deciding to visit. For me, it was an easy purchase, but I will say that it is relatively expensive for what you can see in the museum.

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The museum is one main room of exhibits which looks a lot like the style of the chapels you would find at many of the other missions. There is information on the history of the area, the missions and Father Serra here.

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There is another room on the first story that has a few more artifacts and is a spot where you can watch a video as well.

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From here the museum heads up as you climb the stairs to the eventual lookout at the top of the tower.

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The first spot you will stop at is the overlook for the one room museum below. It provides a nice vantage point of the room and a great place for photos.

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From here you will head to another room with a lot of history on how the museum itself came to be.

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Lastly, you will make the walk up the last set of stairs and be greeted with a small room that provides many windows for you to view the surrounding area from. It is a high vantage point and was my favorite part of the museum’s interior.

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I especially liked that they had large pictures of what these views would have looked like in the past so you could compare to what they look like now. It was pretty amazing to see as the views have changed immensely and I can’t even imagine seeing San Diego like that.

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After taking some time up here, you will head down and can complete your time in the museum. For me it is was cool to see all of the history as I had just completed my time visiting all of the missions in California the previous week. I will say that the price seemed a little steep if you brought a whole family though regarding what you got to see. Let me know if you have been in the comments and what you thought and read about my time at the missions here.

Junípero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill in San Diego

Located on the Presidio Hill in San Diego, the Father Juniper Serra Museum is a great spot for an event in San Diego or to explore if you are interested in California Mission history like I am. This museum is known as the site where California began as it is where the first mission was established in California (one of its first non Native America structures). I got a chance to check it out and here is all the information.

Junipero Serra Museum-1

Details

  • Cost: $6
  • Location: 2727 Presidio Dr, San Diego, CA 92103

Getting There

The museum is located at the top of Presidio Hill, which can be seen from Old Town San Diego and is a very recognizable site. The easiest way to get there is to take I-5 to I-8 E then get off on Taylor St, which will direct you to the Presidio, which is to the right and up the hill.

History

Junipero Serra Museum-3

The main mission in San Diego, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, is where you will dive into San Diego’s mission history, but this is where the first mission began. Father Serra elected to build the mission here because of its location overlooking the bay but then eventually moved it 4 miles East to be closer to the native population in the area and have a more consistent water supply. This museum as it appears now was built in the early 1900’s to house the area’s unique history.

The Museum

Junipero Serra Museum-13

The highlight of the museum for me is the exterior. This building was built in the same style and architecture as the California missions, so it has a beautiful facade that is the backdrop to many photos taken in San Diego.

Junipero Serra Museum-14

Walking across the street from the parking lot you will see the old bell which marks the El Camino Real road used to visit all of the missions. There is also three flags for USA, Mexico and Spain which all had a part in developing California as it is today.

Junipero Serra Museum-2

From here you can head up the stairs and see the beautiful archway before going into the museum proper.

Junipero Serra Museum-5

The museum has a fee of $6 to enter, and you will need to decide how much you care about the history before deciding to visit. For me, it was an easy purchase, but I will say that it is relatively expensive for what you can see in the museum.

Junipero Serra Museum-5

The museum is one main room of exhibits which looks a lot like the style of the chapels you would find at many of the other missions. There is information on the history of the area, the missions and Father Serra here.

Junipero Serra Museum-6

There is another room on the first story that has a few more artifacts and is a spot where you can watch a video as well.

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From here the museum heads up as you climb the stairs to the eventual lookout at the top of the tower.

Junipero Serra Museum-8

The first spot you will stop at is the overlook for the one room museum below. It provides a nice vantage point of the room and a great place for photos.

Junipero Serra Museum-11

From here you will head to another room with a lot of history on how the museum itself came to be.

Junipero Serra Museum-9

Lastly, you will make the walk up the last set of stairs and be greeted with a small room that provides many windows for you to view the surrounding area from. It is a high vantage point and was my favorite part of the museum’s interior.

Junipero Serra Museum-10

I especially liked that they had large pictures of what these views would have looked like in the past so you could compare to what they look like now. It was pretty amazing to see as the views have changed immensely and I can’t even imagine seeing San Diego like that.

Junipero Serra Museum-12

After taking some time up here, you will head down and can complete your time in the museum. For me it is was cool to see all of the history as I had just completed my time visiting all of the missions in California the previous week. I will say that the price seemed a little steep if you brought a whole family though regarding what you got to see. Let me know if you have been in the comments and what you thought and read about my time at the missions here.

Bucktail River Access Limited During Construction Beginning July 5

WEAVERVILLE, Calif. – The Bureau of Land Management and the Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP) wish to advise visitors that the Bucktail River Access off Browns Mountain Road will be limited from July 5 to September 15. Although open on weekends, weekday access will be limited as a safety precaution during construction of a river channel rehabilitation project at this location.

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Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa: The Fifth California Mission

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is the fifth mission founded by Father Junípero Serra and the only mission to have an L-shaped chapel. Today the mission is located right in the heart of San Luis Obispo, which is a bustling college town along the coast of California. The mission here is free to visit, but I found it be underwhelming compared to others I saw on Day 3 of my mission tour. It is still a great stop along Highway 101 though, read on for all the details.

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Details

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: 751 Palm St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Getting There

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Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is located only minutes from the Broad St exit off Highway 101 in downtown San Luis Obispo. There is parking along the street that is $1.25 an hour, but it can be hard to find during peak times since it is right in downtown San Luis Obispo (a popular college town).

The Mission

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After parking, you can make your way to the church and gift shop right near the entrance. This mission is different than the others as you do not need to pay, and there is not a map so you simply go where you will at your own pace.

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The gift shop has all of the things you have no doubt become accustomed to seeing at the other missions you have visited, such as books on the missions, crosses, and other tourist souvenirs.

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Behind the gift shop is a small five-room museum which has a lot of great artifacts from the mission history and the Indian history around the area as well.

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In the back room, there is even a map of the early land borders for the county and a case with guns from the era.

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After walking through the museum, you will exit out into the mission courtyard.

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As with other courtyards, this one is well manicured and kept up. The plants and flowers blooming were fantastic, and it was peaceful to walk around them.

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Since the courtyard is not closed in like the other missions (you are not paying to see it) it was hard to tell where the mission ended and other more modern things began. I didn’t know whether to continue walking in a direction in hopes of seeing something from the mission’s history or to turn around.

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There is a beautiful set of three old mission bells hanging prominently in the courtyard though. There is also an old well that is picturesque amount the plants and walkways.

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After spending time in the courtyard, you will want to enter the chapel. This chapel is open to the public whenever the mission is open so it can be busier than others but it is large, so there is room to move around.

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The chapel is unique in that it is the only mission chapel to form an L shape. All of the other ones are just one long room without the side room like this one has. Since I am visiting the missions in a row, it is fun to see ones that have different architecture as that gives them personality.

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The altarpiece here is also a lot less ornate than many of the previous missions I have been too. The bottom of the L shape chapel is different than the main chapel as it let in a lot more natural light and was much brighter.

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There was also a few small alcoves that you could pray in on this side as well.

The Exterior

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After finishing looking at the chapel, I headed outside to be greeted by the missions fountain. The fountain was full of green water though and not running, so it was not as picturesque as others.

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In the front of the mission, there is the statue of Father Serra and a large wooden cross as well. Also, off to the side there is the El Camino Real bell that is the official marking for the road, and that is at each mission.

Mission Court

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This mission also has a large courtyard in front that was made by the city, and that is beautiful to stroll around. There is a fountain with a bronze bear playing in the water and a few awnings you can sit under.

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If you have more time in your parking meter, there is also a small path that walks along the stream here and that provides a beautiful area just to take a relaxing walk.

All in all, the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a great free stop on a road trip with lots of history and unique artifacts. If you are visiting only a few missions though, it is not one of my favorites. You can read about how you can drive to all of the missions here and let me know what you think in the comments.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa: The Fifth California Mission

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is the fifth mission founded by Father Junípero Serra and the only mission to have an L-shaped chapel. Today the mission is located right in the heart of San Luis Obispo, which is a bustling college town along the coast of California. The mission here is free to visit, but I found it be underwhelming compared to others I saw on Day 3 of my mission tour. It is still a great stop along Highway 101 though, read on for all the details.

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Details

  • Cost: Free
  • Location: 751 Palm St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Getting There

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Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is located only minutes from the Broad St exit off Highway 101 in downtown San Luis Obispo. There is parking along the street that is $1.25 an hour, but it can be hard to find during peak times since it is right in downtown San Luis Obispo (a popular college town).

The Mission

mission san luis obispo-20

After parking, you can make your way to the church and gift shop right near the entrance. This mission is different than the others as you do not need to pay, and there is not a map so you simply go where you will at your own pace.

mission san luis obispo-1

The gift shop has all of the things you have no doubt become accustomed to seeing at the other missions you have visited, such as books on the missions, crosses, and other tourist souvenirs.

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Behind the gift shop is a small five-room museum which has a lot of great artifacts from the mission history and the Indian history around the area as well.

mission san luis obispo-4

In the back room, there is even a map of the early land borders for the county and a case with guns from the era.

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After walking through the museum, you will exit out into the mission courtyard.

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As with other courtyards, this one is well manicured and kept up. The plants and flowers blooming were fantastic, and it was peaceful to walk around them.

mission san luis obispo-8

Since the courtyard is not closed in like the other missions (you are not paying to see it) it was hard to tell where the mission ended and other more modern things began. I didn’t know whether to continue walking in a direction in hopes of seeing something from the mission’s history or to turn around.

mission san luis obispo-11

There is a beautiful set of three old mission bells hanging prominently in the courtyard though. There is also an old well that is picturesque amount the plants and walkways.

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After spending time in the courtyard, you will want to enter the chapel. This chapel is open to the public whenever the mission is open so it can be busier than others but it is large, so there is room to move around.

mission san luis obispo-15

The chapel is unique in that it is the only mission chapel to form an L shape. All of the other ones are just one long room without the side room like this one has. Since I am visiting the missions in a row, it is fun to see ones that have different architecture as that gives them personality.

mission san luis obispo-14

The altarpiece here is also a lot less ornate than many of the previous missions I have been too. The bottom of the L shape chapel is different than the main chapel as it let in a lot more natural light and was much brighter.

mission san luis obispo-16

There was also a few small alcoves that you could pray in on this side as well.

The Exterior

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After finishing looking at the chapel, I headed outside to be greeted by the missions fountain. The fountain was full of green water though and not running, so it was not as picturesque as others.

mission san luis obispo-18

In the front of the mission, there is the statue of Father Serra and a large wooden cross as well. Also, off to the side there is the El Camino Real bell that is the official marking for the road, and that is at each mission.

Mission Court

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This mission also has a large courtyard in front that was made by the city, and that is beautiful to stroll around. There is a fountain with a bronze bear playing in the water and a few awnings you can sit under.

mission san luis obispo-24

If you have more time in your parking meter, there is also a small path that walks along the stream here and that provides a beautiful area just to take a relaxing walk.

All in all, the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a great free stop on a road trip with lots of history and unique artifacts. If you are visiting only a few missions though, it is not one of my favorites. You can read about how you can drive to all of the missions here and let me know what you think in the comments.

OUE Skyspace: Glass Slide & Open Air Observation Deck in Los Angeles

Much like Chicago and New York before it, Los Angeles now has its very own observation deck so you can experience the city from above. The deck is 70 floors up, and it provides unparalleled views of Los Angeles and the area surrounding it. I got a chance to check it out opening weekend, and it was a ton of fun, here is all the information.

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Details

  • Cost: Approximately $25 – $35
  • Location: 633 West Fifth Street Suite 840 Los Angeles, CA 90071

Getting There

The US Bank building is located right in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. There is a parking structure on Hope St that you can use to visit the building or there are other parking lots around the area. Parking can be expensive, but that’s a big city for you.

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After making your way into the US Bank building, you will be ushered to the elevators and taken to the first of the multiple floors you visit.

Floor 54 – Interactive Floor

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This is the first floor you get to, and it has a few different interactive exhibits that you can experience.

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First, there is an almost 360-degree screen that shows various videos of Los Angeles you walk through.

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Next, there is an infinity mirror that you can stand on, and that looks like you are going to fall through the building. It was a little creepy to stand on but super cool.

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Lastly, there is a massive screen that you interact with by standing on specified areas of the ground and moving around to change your silhouette on the screen. From here you head back to the elevator and up to the 70th floor.

Floor 70

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When you exit the elevator on the 70th floor, you will be able to get in line for the slide or just walk around and take in the views.

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I made a loop around the deck to see the different points of view and was impressed with the clean and beautiful area that you are walking around in.

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There were chairs and couches to lounge on, a bar where you could buy drinks and windows all over. You could see a lot of the famous spots in LA like Dodgers Stadium and Echo Park. Next I hopped in line for the sky slide.

The Slide

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Having been to a few of these observation decks with glass floors in the past, I was really excited about riding the slide, since it was so unique.

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The slide takes you from floor 70 to floor 69 in about 5 seconds, but the entire time you are looking through the glass floor and to the ground below.

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It is a pretty surreal experience as I have never done anything like it, and I fully enjoyed myself eventhough I am not a huge fan of heights.

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Sure it is not very long, but when else have you got to do something like this? You go pretty fast, so they have foam pads at the end that you land on when you complete the slide.

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At the bottom of the slide, you will be on the 69th floor, which is the open-air observation deck.

Open Air Observation Deck

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This was probably my favorite part of my time there as I enjoyed just being able to sit out on the deck and observe the city below me.

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It trumps the other deck at city hall as it is at least twice as high.

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The open air atmosphere feels very California as it is almost always beautiful weather here, so it makes sense to have it open.

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After finishing on the deck, you can head back into the 69th floor and walk around if you would like but it is pretty much identical to the 70th floor in the way it looks.

All in all, SkySpace in LA is a unique way to explore the city. I really enjoyed being able to walk around, see the vantage points, interact with the exhibits and ride the slide. Be sure to check it out if you are in downtown and let me know what you think in the comments.

Disclosure: This experience was provided free of charge, all opinions are my own.

Mission Santa Inés: Exploring Solvang’s Mission

Mission Santa Ines was the 19th of the 21 California missions to be created, and it resides in the small Danish town of Solvang only a few miles off Highway 101. The mission was founded by Father Estévan Tapís in 1804, and it is most famous for being the start of one of the largest Indian rebellions during the mission period. I got a chance to check it out on Day 3 of my missions drive which you can read about here or continue on in this post to learn about my time at Mission Santa Inez.

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Details

  • Cost: $5
  • Location: 1760 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93464

Getting There

Mission Santa Ines is located on Highway 246 right past the town of Solvang. It has a large parking lot that can accommodate lots of visitors.

The Exterior

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As you pull up, you will see the large bell tower and mission building extending out from it. This mission is one of the better ones simply for the views that you can see from the parking lot of the well-maintained mission.

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There is a statue of Father Serra right in the front as well, much like the other missions.

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There is also the El Camino Real bell that has come to mark each mission I have visited as well.

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In the back of the parking lot you will find a unique exhibit with a dozen crosses, each representing a different moment in Jesus crucifixion.

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When you enter the gift shop, you will pay the fee of $5 and receive a map you can use to wander the mission. Here are some of the main things you will see.

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The first room of the museum has a detailed model that shows what it would have looked like in its heyday as well as a map of the area.

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The rest of the museum has a lot of artifacts such as confessionals, garments, paintings, and statues.

Madonna Room

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Much like Fernando de Rey, there is also a Madonna room at this mission. This Madonna room has a half dozen or so depictions of Mary, and a separate altar.

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The Chapel

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The chapel here is stunning with a colorful altarpiece that was much different than the typical gold altars I have seen in the other missions. Here are a few pictures:

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The Gardens

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One of the best parts about this mission is the incredibly beautiful gardens that line the courtyard.

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When I was there, the flowers were in full bloom, and it was incredible seeing all of the colors.

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The middle of the courtyard has a fountain, like many of the other missions but the pathways that lead to it are covered in colorful flowers and beautiful plant life.

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There is also a covered walkway that has vines growing over the top of it.

The Uprising

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In the back of the mission, there is an area dedicated to the Chumash Revolt that happened here and spread to some of the other missions. There is a really unique story that you can read about here.

The Cemetery

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The cemetery of Mission Santa Ines is probably my favorite spot. While many of the other missions have the traditional organized cemetery plots, this mission just has grave stones and crosses that pop up all over the side yard. What makes it interesting is how old many of the plots are and the unique crosses that adorn the grave sites.

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I spent about an hour walking around this mission and even though this was the second time I visited, it is one of the hidden gems of the California missions. The area has been kept up immaculately, and it is one of those spots where you can just wander and enjoy the sheer beauty it provides. Read more about my trip to the rest of the missions here and let me know what you think in the comments.