A gem among the historic Spanish California missions, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a must-see for history buffs, family vacationers and California tourists.

Founded in 1772 and built on its current foundation in 1792, the Mission, which continues to be an active church, lies at the center of modern-day Downtown San Luis Obispo on a traffic-free block of Palm Street between Chorro and Broad. As you enter the church’s main doors, the natural light illuminates the pews and wall art, leading to down to the altar. Across the garden from the church stands the remodeled Parish Hall, a 4,400 square foot meeting place for various classes, dinners, and gatherings.

Just outside the Mission sits the spacious community park and San Luis Creek, commonly known as Mission Plaza. Mission Plaza faces the bustling shopping and dining district and hosts multiple community events such as the free summer Concerts in the Plaza series, the monthly Bike Night and Santa’s House during the holiday season. Other cause-related events in Mission Plaza include the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s in the Plaza, an event dedicated to providing resources to patients and caregivers. The San Luis Obispo Mission Plaza has been and continues to be an integral fixture in the SLO community.

Quick Facts

  • The Mission’s church bells were made in 1818 in Peru, and recast in 1878
  • The Mission walls stand 50-60 feet tall
  • The Mission’s roof was originally covered in tiles to defend against flaming arrows
  • The surrounding area was known for its dense bear population
  • Sheep and cattle were once raised here by the Spanish

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

HISTORY

The fifth California mission founded by Father Junipero Serra, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was named after Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse, France. The vestibule, added in 1820, along with other expansions and restorations have been made to allow for the growing number of parishioners in the Mission. Recently, the iconic grizzly bear statue was added in Mission Plaza to celebrate the original discovery of the Valley of the Bears during the missionaries’ exploration. Today, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa stands as the central parish church for the City of San Luis Obispo.

Festival Mozaic in Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

TOURS

Enjoy a free tour of the Mission, museum and gift shop, as well as its thriving garden featuring a well, fountains, and trellises. Docent-led group tours begin daily at 1:15 p.m. in the front of the Mission for you and your family to enjoy. The spacious Mission Plaza and grassy slopes surrounding the creek make for great picnic grounds after your tour.

If you are interested in a tour for your school or organization, schedule a docent-led tour using Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa’s tour application form and send the completed form to office@oldmissionslo.org.

Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo

MASS

Mass is held daily at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, although the schedule may differ on Holy Days and special occasions. Visit the official website for more schedule information.

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.

Saturday: 7:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Sunday:

  • English: 7:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • Spanish: 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

 

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