Old Mission San Luis Rey de FranciaBy
Earlier this month, we decided to set off on a drive down the coast and see where it would lead us. We decided to take a little drive through Fallbrook and wound up pretty much stumbling upon Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in Oceanside. I think many of us that have grown up in Southern California are familiar with the Santa Barbara Mission or San Juan Capistrano, but there are others that are not quite as well known, one of which is San Luis Rey. This lesser known Mission is actually the biggest of all the 21 California Missions.
The church, a National Historic Landmark, is open daily to visitors via the museum, which oversees its restoration and the care of its collections. The church at San Luis Rey is recognized as the most unique and one of the most beautiful in the mission chain. It is the largest of the 21 California missions and the only one adorned with a wooden dome and cupola. Unique also to San Luis Rey are the side altars and the Madonna Chapel which originally served as a mortuary chapel.
We thought we would only be there for about 15 minutes but we wound up spending almost two hours. The kids loved touring the museum and discovering the grounds. We turned it into a spur of the moment lesson on California history and it was fantastic to watch the kiddos have history come to life. We spend some time exploring the cemetery and the kids were absolutely mesmerized by the dates on the tombstones, since the adjacent cemetery is the oldest cemetery in North San Diego County still in operation. The cemetery dates back to 1798 and it was definitely an interesting experience to explore the grounds of this historic mission. The mission is also home to an active archeological dig/site.
We had a great time exploring the grounds and learning about our local history. I would definitely recommend making the drive to explore this beautiful church and grounds. To learn more about the Mission San Luis Rey, including hours of operation and other additional information head here.
Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, CA 92057