While recently on a service-learning trip at the border, I stopped at Mission San Xavier del Bac. What an experience! Even from the highway it looks like a big, white jewel in the middle of the desert. Also, it is extremely easy to access from the highway (probably just a five minute drive from the exit ramp).
The mission is still an active mission, so that was an interesting aspect. Prayer candles were lit everywhere, and you can even take home ones that have been burned. New candles are available for purchase. There's a nice video that talks about the restoration of the mission, but I personally liked the sanctuary the best. It was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.
There is a small giftshop that has all kinds of souvenir-type items you can pick up to take home with you. You are also welcome to walk up a large mound of dirt to a cross that sits at the top. It was a nice climb that offered a beautiful view of the desert all around.
Something especially unique was all of the vendors selling fry bread. Yum! There are so many different options, and they all look so good.
Beside of the parking lot there is another little area of souvenir shops run by locals. Definitely check out the what's behind the symbol "The Man in the Maze." I don't want to ruin it for you!
If you're in the area, check this place out. What a gem in the middle of the desert!
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