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La Purisima Mission

Take a self-guided tour at La Purisima Mission State Park in Lompoc. You can also explore miles of hiking trails at this historic spot on California's Central Coast (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

Take a self-guided tour at La Purisima Mission State Park in Lompoc. You can also explore miles of hiking trails at this historic spot on California’s Central Coast (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

One of several confession boxes at La Purisima Mission (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

One of several confession boxes at La Purisima Mission (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

If the recent Canonization of Father Junipero Serra has piqued your interest in California history, you might want to visit some of the Golden State’s historic missions. Several of these religious outposts are located along the Central Coast.

Old Mission Santa Barbara is known as “Queen of the Missions” – perhaps rightly so because of its graceful beauty as well as being located in the rustic Mission Canyon area of Santa Barbara. Some lesser-known missions are also worth a visit, including La Purisima Mission State Park in Lompoc.

An intricate shrine inside the chapel of of La Purisima Mission in Lompoc (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

An intricate shrine inside the chapel of of La Purisima Mission in Lompoc (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

La Purisima Mission is reportedly the most extensively renovated California Mission. The self-guided tour of the spacious grounds makes for a very relaxing visit.

You can stroll through the arches next to the mission bells to the old burial ground. Then, take the dirt pathway along the length of the single-story adobe structure, peeking inside rooms from the church to the weaver’s quarters, soldiers room and kitchens.

Also Read/Listen: Central Coast Tribal Members Discuss Their Views on St. Serra (my KCBX Radio story)

The rooms have been remarkably renovated and include details such as kitchen tables set for a meal, and a card game in progress (love the vintage playing cards!).

There's a card game in progress (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

There’s a card game in progress (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

La Purisima Mission is on State Park grounds, offering many miles of hiking trails along grounds with lots of old oak trees. The summer day I was there seemed much cooler than Santa Barbara temperatures, which have been hotter than average this year.

Admission to La Purisima Mission is free. Parking is $5. You can see the mission in anywhere from one hour – to an entire half of day, longer if you want to explore the hiking trails.

La Purisima Mission State Park

If the recent Canonization of Father Junipero Serra has piqued your interest in California history, you might want to visit some of the Golden State's historic missions. Here are some beautiful shots of La Purisima Mission State Park in Lompoc, CA.

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Traffic411 Insiders Tip: Wine lovers might want to hop over to “The Wine Ghetto,” Lompoc’s growing wine district offers an array of tasting rooms. Non-drinkers might enjoy the Surf-Lompoc Amtrak Station, located along a pristine stretch of Surf Beach (although the beach is closed parts of the year when Snowy Plover are nesting).

Distance from LAX: 150 miles (Distance from Old Mission Santa Barbara: 54 miles)

You can also explore these Central Coast Missions:

Mission San Buenaventura (Ventura)

Old Mission Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara)

Old Mission Santa Ines (Solvang)

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (San Luis Obispo)

Mission San Miguel (San Luis Obispo County)

Mission San Antonio de Padua (Jolon, Monterey County)

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission (Carmel, Monterey County).
Carmel Mission was the first headquarters of the California Mission System and is the final resting place for Father J. Serra

Old Mission San Juan Bautista (San Juan Bautista, near Salinas)

 

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Jalama Beach: Off the Beaten Path

Jalama Beach in Lompoc is one of Southern California's hidden gems. Miles of uncrowded pristine coastline. (photo by Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Jalama Beach in Lompoc is one of Southern California’s hidden gems. Miles of uncrowded pristine coastline. (photo by Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Nestled in a cove at the southern end of Vandenberg Air Force Base, just above Point Conception, is a gem of a beach and camping site, Jalama Beach!

My boyfriend and I visited Jalama (pronounced ‘huh-LAH-muh’) in an effort to beat a recent early Fall heatwave scorching Southern California. While it was close to 100 degrees in Santa Barbara (seriously!) Jalama Beach was a relatively cooler 81 degrees and, with the breeze and the surf, the weather was perfect.

Feeling ambitious? You can walk to Point Conception from Jalama Beach at low tide (photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Feeling ambitious? You can walk to Point Conception from Jalama Beach at low tide (photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

We walked along the shore toward Point Conception for about an hour. The sand is fine and beachcombers can find plenty of treasures, shells and sea rocks tumbled smooth and pristine. Surfers were catching some nice sized waves while a few sun worshippers and families with small children lounged on the beach.

If you’re ambitious, at low tide you can walk all the way to Point Conception. The beach is not crowded at all, so it would be a peaceful stroll.

Getting to Jalama Beach takes some effort (for details click here).  It’s located off Highway 1 near Lompoc, and a 14 mile drive along a single lane winding road. When we turned off of Highway 1 there was a sign that said the parking lot was full.  Since it was early afternoon, we took our chances and got a space ($10 admission to the campground). But beware, there is no parking allowed outside of the park, and fines are steep for violators.

Jalama Beach, Lompoc: Off the Beaten Path

Nestled in a cove between Point Conception and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Jalama Beach is a hidden gem of California's Central Coast (photos by Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

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Jalama Beach Campground (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Point Conception (photo by Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Point Conception (photo by Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The winding road makes Jalama Beach a great destination for bikers.  It’s the favorite motorcycle run of one of my former colleagues.

Jalama Beach offers overnight camping and there are cabins to rent (probaby with a long waiting list).  The only place nearby to eat is at the store on the campground, which seemed to be serving up plenty of Jalama Burgers when we were there.

I’m not big on camping, but Jalama Beach is one place where I wouldn’t mind roughing it, at least for one night 🙂

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip:  Day trippers – arrive early morning or afternoon  in order to get a parking spot.  The only legal parking is inside the park.

Distance from LAX:  159 miles (63 miles from Santa Barbara)

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