Santa Ines was a notable commercial and spiritual success story among the California Missions in the 1820s. Today that is reflected in the loving restoration of the buildings, grounds and gardens. Because it is so close to Downtown Solvang, it is one of the easiest of the 21 missions to access. As a still-functioning Roman Catholic parish church, it is often busier and livelier than the other missions. A photo in front of the mission sign is a great photo-op.
The small entry donation is well worth it and the superb gardens alone are worth a stroll as fragrant olives, figs, grapes, pomegranates and roses thrive just like they did in Junipero Serra's time. One of Father Serra's vestments is on display. Don't miss the chapel with its elaborate Christian imagery and furnishings. Outside, the view east over vast fields, ranches and undeveloped mission property is a comfort for the eyes. What a blessing: parking is plentiful, especially on weekdays and you might spot a devout Capuchin Franciscan brother taking a refreshing stroll. Bottom line: Santa Ines is a special place in California history and a must-see for any student of yesteryear.
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