The Mission features several different attractions among its grounds for visitors. The attractions are focused on the site's 250-year history and its religious significance in the Roman Catholic church.
The Mission is centered around its parish church, which is currently active in the San Diego archdiocese. The church offers the holy sacraments to its community and church members, including baptism, confirmation, holy eucharist, matrimony, holy orders, anointing of the sick and penance.
As an active church, the Mission also holds mass several times a week. On weekdays and on Saturdays, mass is held twice daily at 7:00 am and 5:30 pm. On Sundays, there is a mass in the morning, folk music, congregational singing and a Spanish mass.
The original mission was burned in 1775 during an uprising by local natives. The current church, built in the early 19th century, is the fifth to stand on this location. The mission site is a National Historic.
The Saint Francis Chapel houses mass a few times a week in Spanish. The chapel was built in the 1970s and donated to the Mission. Inside, visitors can see a set of historic choir stalls that date back to the 15th century.
Inside of the Mission church, visitors can see examples of religious paintings and sculptures. Some of the pieces date back to the 15th century.
The iconic bell tower of the Mission's white façade is another big attraction to see. It's a 46-foot Campanaro or bell tower wall featuring five bells. One bell is original, dating back to 1802. Another one of the larger bells was recast from parts of the original Mission bells.
The southern region of the Mission grounds contains what is left of the original convent that stood here in the early 19th century. There is an ongoing archaeological dig here that has yielded artifacts like clothing, tools, weapons and pottery. Items excavated are displayed in the museum.
Casa de los Padres
The Casa de los Padres is a historical display of how the Mission looked when it was first constructed in the late 18th century. Visitors can see an interpretive layout of the rooms of the early founders, complete with historically-accurate furnishings.
The Mission provides its collection of historical artifacts on display. There are also Kumeyaay artifacts to see, including a hut and a cooking oven.
In the center courtyard is a serene meditation garden. It features gorgeous palm trees, a quiet path and colorful flowers.
The gift shop sells a variety of souvenirs. It also has brochures, maps and other pieces of information that are helpful when navigating the grounds.