The Santa Ynez Valley

Mission view of Santa Ynez ValleyThe Mission commands a superb view of the Santa Ynez Valley, situated near the center of Santa Barbara County, about 45 miles north of Santa Barbara and 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The Valley, containing the communities of Solvang, Santa Ynez, Ballard, Los Olivos and Buellton, remains largely undisturbed by the pressures of urban activity.

Mill ruinsThe ruins of two mills lie across the valley just a half-mile east of the Mission. One was a regular grist (grain) mill. The other, however, was a fulling mill, i.e., a mill used to make wool cloth less abrasive and more comfortable. Fr. Uría, head of Mission Santa Inés at the time, had this mill built by Joseph Chapman, a New Englander who had fled from pirates and come to the Mission in 1820. The mills are presently administered by the Santa Barbara County Trust for Historical Preservation. They hope to develop, in cooperation with the Mission, an interpretive display. For more information, see the Mission Santa Inés National Historic Landmark District Nomination Project at the California Mission Studies Association website.

Seven miles from Mission Santa Inés is San Lorenzo Seminary. Besides being a formation house for the Capuchin Franciscans, San Lorenzo has facilites for individual and group retreats. It is located in a beautiful valley, with several walking paths. Individual counselling by one of the friars on staff can be arranged. For more information, please call 805-688-5630.

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1760 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA
From US 101, take the Solvang exit at Buellton (SR 246) east
4 miles to Mission Santa Inés, just beyond downtown Solvang.
Santa Ynez Valley map

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SolvangIn 1911, 107 years after the founding of the Mission, a Danish-American corporation purchased Rancho San Carlos de Jonata. Their purpose was to found a Danish colony and folk school where Danish-Americans could be trained in the Danish lifestyle. The Danes established Solvang, which means "sunny fields", on a site that the Chumash Indians called Alajulapu. In the 1940s Solvang began to acquire its now characteristic Danish architectural style. Today Solvang is one of California's most popular tourist attractions.

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Santa Ynez

Several miles east of the Mission is the town of Santa Ynez, founded as a "western town" in 1882, a character it very much retains to this day. It is home to the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and is adjacent to the Santa Ynez Indian Reservation.

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Ballard was founded in 1881 and is the oldest community in the Santa Ynez Valley. It has two historical landmarks: the little red schoolhouse of Ballard built in 1883 and still in use today, and the Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church, which was built for just over $300 in 1898, and which presently serves as a private funeral chapel.

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Los Olivos

Established in 1887, Los Olivos was originally a stagecoach and narrow-gauge railroad stop at Mattei's Tavern, a now-famous restaurant and historical landmark. In recent years it has become well known for its abundance of art galleries.

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Buellton was founded in 1897 on land sold by R. T. Buell which had formerly been part of Rancho San Carlos de Jonata. Buellton was the final link of the newly-constructed U.S. Highway 101 in 1922, and was the site for its formal dedication and opening; 10,000 people arrived to celebrate this major economic accomplishment for the State of California.