Founded in 1772 by St. Junipero Serra and named for St. Luis of Anjou, bishop of Toulouse, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is also known as the "Accidental Mission."
St. Junipero Serra, over a series of ambitious years, founded mission churches all along the Californian coast. Almost single handedly, Father Serra revolutionized the religious identity of the West Coast and converted thousands of Native Americans to the Catholic faith. In the early 18th century, word came to Father Serra of "The Land of Bears," San Luis Obispo. As his people near Monterey were starving for food, Father Serra sent out hunting groups to provide his people with much needed sustenance. The success of these endeavors lead the priest to be convinced San Luis Obispo would be the perfect place for his next mission church, thus Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was conceived.
Today, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is one of the best preserved, continuously operating mission churches in Central and Southern California. Though the building has gone through several renovations, starting in 1794, it has never lost sight of its original mission: to be a beacon of faith. The Mission is and will continue to be a historic destination and pilgrimage site as well as a living, working church.
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa does not charge admission but welcomes groups and individuals to explore the church, museum, gift shop and grounds. The museum and gift shop are open seven days a week, excluding holidays, and guided docent-led tours are offered.