I don't recall having visited the mission before, although I am sure my mother took me as a child. Its mandatory fourth grade curriculum in the state of California. I know I have driven by the mission several times too since we honeymooned and often vacation in Santa Barbara. But it was our first chance to take our kids.
I feel that the mission-system is extra important to my children; not only are we Catholic, but my children are also Native American. Its important for them to understand the history of their religion, their state and their culture. Only by know where we come from can we then truly understand how very blessed we are.
[caption id="attachment_634" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="In front of the Santa Barbara Mission, Alexander kept running off"]
We took the simple walking tour of the mission. There are docents available periodically through the week, but you will have to check their website for details. The walking tour can take as long as you let it. There are lots of coffins to see and read. You can stop, reflect and pray along your journey.
But the reality is that there is a little cemetery area outside the church, the interior of the church including the original altar, and a small walk through museum that includes tools that the native Indians used. Since we had small children with us I would guess the whole thing took 90 minutes, including running around in the grass outside and gazing at the fish in the fountain.