Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Latest NewsMuseum is open for self-guided tours. • The Visitor Center and Parkstore are open! • The park grounds are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday!
Here are some guidelines for people visiting Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park: Masks are required in all indoor spaces for unvaccinated individuals over age 2. Interpretive events are back! Restrooms, ParkStore, Visitor Center and historic buildings are open. Get more information on the California State Parks response to COVID-19 here.
The Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park is located at 144 School St., near downtown Santa Cruz. Take Highway 1 north to its intersection with Mission Street and turn left. Turn left on Emmet Street next to Mission Plaza and right on School Street.
By Bus: Take Santa Cruz METRO route 91X or 71 to the park.
Things to doPicnic Areas
Enjoy the park setting. There are picnic tables and grassy areas.Museum
Tour the historical exhibits at the Mission. Now open!Interpretive Programs
Free docent-led programs are offered at the Mission. Check the calendar for times and topics.
Visit the oldest building in Santa Cruz County and take in the educational exhibits depicting California Indians and life during the Spanish Mission Era. The Visitor Center is open Saturday — Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The ParkStore carries a wide selection of local, Mission and Native American history books.
The Santa Cruz Mission has the distinction of being the oldest building in Santa Cruz, and the ParkStore reflects that history. It offers selection of books about the Native American experience, as well as California Mission history and other Santa Cruz history books. The store also features an assortment of Mole & Mariachi Festival merchandise, including taco and avocado socks, chili pepper lights, and local olive oil and kitchen accessories for the home chef. And of course, it offers a wide variety of apparel and other items featuring Michael Schwab’s iconic Santa Cruz Mission image. Fourth grade students and their families will find useful materials for Mission reports.
Fees and Passes
Parking is free. Donations are gratefully accepted.
- Picnic areas
- Historical displays
- Interpretive Programs
- Wheelchair accessibility throughout the facility.
The Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park offers virtual field trips on Monday and Thursday during the school year. Learn more.
Misión la Exaltacion de la Santa Cruz became the twelfth of 21 missions established in Alta California. Founded on August 28, 1791, by Father Fermín Lasuén, the mission was first built near the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. The mission flooded the first winter, and Father Lasuén had to relocate to higher ground. The new location had a commanding view of the surrounding area, good climate, fertile soil and — from nearby Mission San José — native people familiar with Christianity. Construction began on the mission complex in 1793. The church and mission quadrangle, complete with grist mill, two-story granary, and workshops, were completed in 1795.
Today a complex of buildings stands on the site of the original Santa Cruz Mission, including a half-scale replica of the original church that contains some surviving mission relics. Built between 1822 and 1824 by local Ohlonean and Yokuts Indians, the park’s signature adobe is the only remaining structure from Mission Santa Cruz, founded in 1791.
One of just four adobe buildings left in Santa Cruz County—and sometimes confused with the nearby replica mission chapel—it is the only building of its kind preserved as a museum in the State of California. The adobe served as housing for Neophyte families who lived and worked at the Mission, which operated until 1834 when it was secularized. After decades of private ownership, the adobe was sold to the State of California, extensively restored and finally opened in 1991 to the public as the Santa Cruz Mission SHP.
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks saved Santa Cruz Mission SHP from closure in 2012. Friends’ funding for the Mission has supported maintenance and operations at the park, as well as operation of the Mission ParkStore and a commitment to partner with the community and work with California State Parks to make needed improvements.
For Whom the Bell Tolls Virtual Exhibit
Investigate the history of the bells in the California Missions in the virtual online exhibit, For Whom the Bell Tolls: Changing Symbolism of California Mission Bells, 1769 to today. This award-winning, bilingual exhibit explores the history of the bells in the California Missions and the bell markers along El Camino Real. Local State Parks Historian Martin Rizzo-Martinez, PhD, State Parks Interpreter I Julie Sidel and State Parks Interpreter II Rhiannon Sims developed the exhibit in 2021 to share how the bells held different meanings for different communities from the 18th century to the present.
- Dogs are allowed on leashes no longer than 6 feet.
- Alcohol is not allowed in the park.