Mission San Luis Rey Museum


Location: Oceanside (42 Miles / 45 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego)

Open Daily: Entry Allowed 10AM – 4PM

Cost: $6 ($5 for Seniors 65+, $4 for Kids 6-18)

Features: Largest Mission in California; Historic Water Conservation System; Oil Paintings; Abraham Lincoln Signed Document

mission-san-luis-reyMission San Luis Rey Highlights: Most visitors will need to plan at least a couple hours visiting the “King of the Missions”. Founded in 1798 as the largest Mission in California, the Mission was also the largest building in California during the early half of the 19th century.


Named after King Louis IX of France, Mission San Luis Rey served as home to approximately 3,000 Indians during its first 30 years. These Indians cared for over 50,000 livestock during that time. You will learn about the history of the Mission while browsing through the Museum displays before entering the church. Be sure to keep an eye out for the display where you will see the title deed signed by President Abraham Lincoln less than a month before his assassination.  The title deed returned ownership of the Mission to the Catholic Church, who had lost control when Mexico acceded to power over the area and introduced secularization, following their independence from Spain.

Video and Oil Paintings

Between the Museum and the Church, you can stop to rest your feet and watch a video history of the Mission. From there, you can head north down an outdoor walkway to a small room of oil paintings by the renowned artists Miguel Cabrera and Leon Trousset.

mission-san-luis-rey-entranceChurch and Cemetery

The Mission’s church does not hold a regular mass but it can be used for special events such as weddings and funerals. You will exit out to the peaceful and beautifully landscaped cemetery. You will also come across a crypt just before leaving the cemetery.

Soldier Barracks and Lavanderia

After leaving the cemetery, the self-guided map tour will take you down the hill you drove past to reach the parking lot. You will come across remnants of barracks used to house the U.S. Calvary and Mormon Battalion as the United States sought to seek control of California from Mexico.

Farther down the path, you will see the Lavenderia, which provides an interesting look at the water conservation efforts developed over 200 years ago. It is a sunken garden with a maze of irrigation channels where the former residents bathed and washed their clothes. Read more about the Lavenderia on the Mission web site since you will see very limited details about it on the self-guided map you receive from the Museum.

Food – There are a number of restaurants heading west along Mission Avenue.

Information on Visiting Mission San Luis Rey

Admission Costs: (Costs are Approximate)

  • $6 for Adults
  • $5 for Seniors 65+
  • $4 for Kids ages 6-18

Directions from Google Maps to 4050 Mission Avenue in Oceanside, CA 92057. (The Mission is approximately four-miles east of Downtown Oceanside.)

Traffic – Getting in and out of Mission San Luis Rey during regular visitor hours is relatively easy. You should encounter very few, if any, traffic delays. If you drive on Mission Avenue from highway I-5 to the Mission, you will have a lot of stop-and-go traffic due to traffic lights. You can avoid the traffic lights by taking SR-76 from highway I-5 to Rancho del Oro Drive. (Learn more about getting San Diego traffic updates.)

Parking – Signs at the beginning of the driveway will direct you to a large parking lot to the right of the Mission Museum entrance.

Transit – Mission San Luis Rey is five miles east of the Oceanside Transit Center.  There is bus service that takes visitors from the Transit Center to within a half-mile walk of the Mission. See San Diego Transit Information for details about the Oceanside Transit Center, which is served by AMTRAK, Coaster, and Metrolink trains and information for the online Travel Planner.

Nearby Attractions: Find more things to do in Oceanside, CA . If you head to Downtown Oceanside, you can walk out on the largest wooden pier on the West Coast, explore the California Surf Museum, take surfing lessons, enjoy an ocean sailing tour, bike along a nature trail, and see art and theatre.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: *Top San Diego Museums*, Architecture, North County Inland, Oceanside |

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