Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

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San Luis Obispo, CA
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is a Spanish mission that was built in 1793. The original building still stands, though the portico has been renovated and an annex added. It's lovely to walk around the huge spacious plaza in front of the mission. There are an abundance of trees, eucalyptus and even redwood trees, because of the creek that passes through. A statue in honor of the Chumash indians shows bears and an indian hunting for salmon- San Luis Obispo used to be an area with a lot of bears. Kids like to watch the fountain.
In front of the mission is a creek. You can cross over bridges that lead to lovely creekside cafes.
The gardens behind the mission are beautiful, with grape vines hanging from shade beams, and giant roses of all colors in the spring. There is a Chumash Indian oven, and cactus plants. Inside, the mission is magic. It is narrow with a high wooden ceiling, a Spanish balcony in the back, and elaborate floral decorations on the walls and archway. Take a peek inside and light a candle for a prayer- you can light a candle for $5 in an alcove on the side.
On Friday evenings in summer, between the mission and the creek, it is amazing to come out for the free live music. So many people gather, all happy as can be! You have to show you don't have any alcohol in your purse to enter, and you can buy beer or wine there.
In December, Wed-Sun 11-7, there is a Santa House, light-up tunnels, walk-through ornament, all synchronized to music, in the plaza. 
The mission is named after Saint Louis, who was from Toulouse, France, hence Tolosa. The mission has an interesting history: The settlers at the other four missions including the Monterey mission were starving. They remembered that there was a plentiful supply of bears on the plain where San Luis Obispo stands. They came, hunted, and brought back 25 mule-loads of dried meat to the Monterey mission. After that, Father Serra decided to build the fifth mission in this ideal spot, where there was water and meat to be found, and where the local Chumash indians were friendly. The original mission had womens' quarters, soldiers' barracks, mills, storerooms, and land for farming, but this is all gone now. These days the mission functions as a regular Catholic parish.
When you visit the mission, you are right in Downtown San Luis Obispo, a great little spot with plenty of clean-cut energetic students buzzing about. Check out the pedestrian-only area, Downtown Center Mall, at 893 Higuera St. A pleasant playground a minute's drive away is Santa Rosa Park.

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The pretty plaza in front of the mission, and stores on Chorro St.

The balcony that looks down on the plaza.

Happy people gather at the free Friday evening summer concerts.

Sunny day at the Mission.

Kids love the fountain of the bears and Chumash indian hunting for salmon.

Side entrance and Spanish fountain.

Inside the Mission.

It's lovely inside the Mission.

The rose garden in the back.

M Mountain, all green in spring.

Bells in the garden.

Cool trees!

The Chumash oven.

The back garden is idyllic.

The mission, as seen from across the creek.

Redwood tree and bridge, in the plaza in front of the mission.

San Luis Creek.

The mission's Spanish portico, which was restored in 1933.

There's plenty of room for kids to run around in the plaza.

Cross at the mission.


Camellias and petals on the ground, in May.

Camellia in the mission garden, in May.

Spanish fountain.

The mission plaza, where many events are held.

Wedding at the mission.

Sitting outside the mission, in the plaza.

Shady plaza under eucalyptus trees.

Checking out the fountain.

Fountain, and Monterey Street in the distance.

A small garden on the Chorro Street side of the mission.

Archway and greenery.

The stairs down to the plaza.

Solid eucalyptus trunks.

Monterey Street is across from the mission.

Cerro San Luis mountain, as seen from the back of the mission.

Behind the mission there are lovely houses.

Redwood tree.

Behind the mission you can see the school and Cerro San Luis, a morro.

White picket fence and roses, behind the mission.


Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is located at 751 Palm Street, San Luis Obispo CA 93401, call (805) 781-8220.
From Highway 101 northbound, exit at Broad St in San Luis Obispo and head along Broad St. Turn on the third left on Palm St. The back of the mission, where the gardens are, will be on your right.
From Highway 101 southbound, exit at Broad St. Turn right immediately on Lincoln St and then right immediately on Chorro St. Cross under the freeway and then turn right on the third right, Palm St. The back of the mission, where the gardens are, will be on your left.


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2023-09-11 15:56:05

We decided to make a pit stop in this small California town. I'm giving it a five star review because of the views of mountains and the ambience.

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2015-05-09 16:33:20

i like the mission history.

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2010-02-19 04:27:00

i visited the missiongood pics

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2009-10-14 21:24:00

beautiful...I love the hand painted ceilings and stained glass...peaceful... I feel honored to be in such a special place with such deep history....I want to return again with more time to explore the gardens.

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Last Updated: Tue, 30 Jan 2024 15:44:09 GMT

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