Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa: What You Need to Know

March 25, 2021

California’s Central Coast is full of history, from Santa Cruz County south to Ventura County. San Luis Obispo County, located roughly halfway between the two, is home to Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Visitors from around the world visit SLO and the mission every year to learn about its simple beginnings, attend mass and pray, and bask in the atmosphere of days gone by. Book your room in a hotel near San Luis Obispo and plan a day trip that includes exploring this historic mission when you visit.

History of the Mission

Most California schoolchildren throughout the 1900s and early 2000s learned about the Spanish missionary Father Junipero Serra and his dream to build missions and other shelters for weary travelers. Each mission was located a day’s mule ride away from the next. Today, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a California Historical Landmark along the 600-mile El Camino Real. Mission bells hang along the roadway to mark the location of each mission as it is now or as it stood in the past.

The mission is named for Saint Louis of Toulouse, a favorite of the Franciscan order. The construction of the mission was started by Father Serra and completed by Father Jose Cavaller and seven helpers. A statue of Father Serra in his sandals, walking stick in hand, graced the grounds for many years, seeming to greet and offer solace to those who reached the top of the steps. The statue has recently been taken down in light of recent protests over Father Serra’s role in the Spanish imperial conquest that enslaved Native Americans.

The Mission Today

In addition to the uniquely designed church itself, the mission’s grounds house classrooms as well as a small museum and gift shop. A beautiful garden surrounds the mission, and shady areas are sprinkled throughout the nearby area. Most tours of the mission and surrounding property are on hold temporarily but will resume when safety permits. The mission continues to be a beloved setting for marriages and baptisms as well as peaceful meditations on its grounds or overlooking the nearby creek.

Renovations & Changes to the Mission Over the Years

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa has gone through many changes and reconstructions over the years. A major addition, the quadrangle, was made in 1819. Two bells were brought from Peru in 1820. Modifications to the mission itself and Mission Plaza continue as the need arises. Though little remains of the original structure built in 1772, the dream is still alive.

Church Services 

The mission has seldom closed because of its commitment to staying open for those in need, but today’s climate of uncertainty may require closures from time to time. Mass is currently held daily and can also be attended online. Schedules for mass as well as for Lent and other Catholic holidays can be found on its website. Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa will continue to draw all sorts of visitors, both religious and secular, who are searching for a peaceful spot.

The historic mission is just one of the many amazing places you’ll want to explore in San Luis Obispo. With so much to see and do in SLO, you’ll want to stay for several days, so make your reservation now at Sands Inn & Suites, a premier San Luis Obispo hotel. The whole family will love our pet-friendly inn, which features an on-site gym, a heated outdoor pool and spa, and free WiFi. Our friendly team is dedicated to making your stay a memorable one, so call us to reserve your room today at (800) 441-4657.

Subscribe Now For Our Latest Offers

Receive updates on our latest hotel offers and deals.