Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
Yes
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francía, located near Oceanside, is the eighteenth out of the twenty-one missions that Spain established throughout California in the mid-late 1700s and early 1800s. The goal was to evangelize to the native populations that lived here, and the missions were funded by the Catholic priests of the Franciscan order.

Mission San Luis Rey was founded on June 13th, 1798. It was the largest of the California missions (earning it the nickname “King of Missions”) and soon became the most prosperous. The church building itself was erected between 1811-1815.

Guided and self-guided tours are available here, as well as a museum, gift shop and retreat center. The architecture of the mission church building is quite impressive. It is laid out in a cruciform plan, meaning the interior takes the form of a cross, and is the only such surviving mission with this design. There are 32 Roman arches featured on the long exterior corridor. A cemetery lies on one side of the mission church, and the quadrangle (only open to retreat center guests) can be viewed on the other side. This area used to hold bullfights and also houses California’s first pepper tree.

In front of the mission is a nice little picnic area with tables, shaded under a large tree. A few short trails lead through a pretty area with some sunken gardens and lavandería (open-air laundry site) ruins, just a short walk south of the mission.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Beautiful, historic old Mission. Sunken garden area with trails. Shaded picnic area.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Features

ADA accessible
Historically significant
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Potable water
Picnic tables

Location

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