About Mission San Luis
Florida's Apalachee-Spanish Living History Museum
A visit to Mission San Luis transports you to year 1703. Your destination is a community where Apalachee Indians and newcomers from Spain lived together.
Hear the ring of the blacksmith's hammer, smell traditional foods being cooked over an open fire, and walk the plaza where the Apalachees played their traditional ball games. Experience the largest historic-period Indian building found in the Southeast and greet the friar at the church. Learn about a soldier's life at the fort, and explore 300-year-old artifacts excavated onsite. Or just enjoy the beautiful outdoor setting with a picnic lunch or nature walk.
Come escape to another time, and share the spirit of Mission San Luis with friends and family!
What is Mission San Luis?
From 1656 to 1704, Mission San Luis served as the principal village of the Apalachees and was the Spaniards' westernmost military, religious, and administrative capital. Mission San Luis was one of over 100 mission settlements established in Spanish Florida between the 1560s and 1690s. It was home to more than 1,400 residents, including a powerful Apalachee chief and the Spanish deputy governor. (For more history and archaeology, please visit the Learn pages.)
In recognition of its historical significance, Mission San Luis received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Today Mission San Luis is the only reconstructed Spanish mission in Florida. As a living history museum it is devoted to sharing the stories of its former Apalachee and Spanish residents. Knowledge of life at Mission San Luis over three centuries ago comes from intensive archaeological and historical research—the site is the most thoroughly investigated mission in the southeastern United States.
Join us in exploring native culture and Spanish colonization in a meticulously recreated landscape!
Visit the exhibit gallery where the history of this 17th-century western capital of Spanish Florida is interpreted. See replicated archaeological profiles, a three-dimensional topographic site map, and Apalachee and Spanish artifacts discovered at Mission San Luis over decades of archaeology.
Also on display in the Exhibit Gallery are Spanish Colonial art and artifacts from the Calynne and Lou Hill Collection including period devotional objects in the Roman Catholic tradition, including santos (three-dimensional carved figures) and retablos (two-dimensional flat panels/enclosures on which images of saints were painted). Similar items were probably used in the altarpiece of the 17th-century Mission church.
Costumed interpreters will welcome your groups and guide them on a visit to a place where time stands still. The skills and activities of the 17th century are demonstrated while the sights and sounds of mission life mingle with the smell of wood smoke. At Mission San Luis, the entire site is a classroom where lifelong learning and fun take place.
Additional Visitor Resources
1/3 mile ravine nature trail
Pets on leashes permitted
Site Map of Mission San Luis (PDF, 1.17 MB)
Visitor’s Guide (PDF, 7.40 MB)
Guía de visitante en español (PDF, 7.28 MB)
La Florida and the Other Florida - Area Itinerary (PDF, 1.53 MB)
Visit our Department of State, Office of External Affairs sister museums
Museum of Florida History
The Grove Museum
Knott House Museum