Sunday Drive: Santa Barbara Loop

Bell Tower at Mission La Purisima Concepcion

This weekend I took an extended trip with my wife up to the Santa Barbara area. I love Santa Barbara, every time I visit I ask myself why I don't live there. It is to me like being back in Southern France, but with Monday coming I knew I would have to head back towards the desert I call home. We stopped and saw four Missions Ventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, and La Purisima Conception. It is amazing to think that these missions once were a days ride apart from each other, and now you can cover that same ground in about 30 mins.

Heading out the 210 Freeway once in Pasadena we turned off the highway and picked up the bits of Route 66 that are strung together and headed into Santa Monica. Route 66 dead ends into Santa Monica where we turned onto one of the most amazing roads in the world, Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.

This stretch of PCH is far to congested, but the beach being just outside your window, and car show you get while sitting in traffic make it worth the slow pace. Every other car is a Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Aston Martin, Jaguar XK, Lotus, or some other exotic such as this unknown car I snapped with my camera phone (Below), it had no roof and big V8 engine sound, but no emblems. (UPDATE: The car is the RA CLICK HERE FOR AUTO BLOG STORY)

Once out of the mad traffic past the road opens up and hugs the coast as you pass by gated homes and ranches of Hollywood's rich and famous. Making our way up the coast we cut through Oxnard, and Ventura, but instead of hugging the coast we turned up the 33 towards the town of Ojai but again leaving the main highway we took Santa Ana Rd a winding two laner that runs along Lake Casitas. Turning left on the 150 (Casitas Pass Rd), this road takes us back down towards the coast, and turns into the 192.

Mission Santa Barbara, was the base of power for the mission system in California in the late 1700 and early 1800's and is known as the Queen of the Missions. It is an amazing site to see, and for $5.00 you can take a self-guided tour of the grounds.

Fountain in front of the Santa Barbara Mission.

From Santa Barbara, we opted for more twisty mountain roads and turned onto the 156 San Marcos Pass Road. If the view of the Pacific was not enough for you once you are on the other side of the pass you follow along Lake Cachuma. Turning off on 246 you can stop at Mission Santa Ynez in the Danish town of Solvang.


Parked in Solvang: This Yellow Lotus Elise would have made the mountain roads a bit more fun.

Me looking at a Map of Mission La Purisima near Lompoc, California