By Caroline May 23, When thinking of things to do in San Juan Capistrano, most people immediately think of the famous mission. Obviously, the mission is a fascinating place to explore, but the city has so much more to offer. Nestled roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, San Juan Capistrano is a small community that is easily overlooked when thinking of places to visit in Or a nge County. Growing up in Lo s Angeleswe studied the California missions in the fourth grade and visited the Missin San Juan Capistrano on a school field trip.
What I found was a charming little town with plenty to offer, from historical landmarks, Spanish architecture similar to San Clementequaint eateries, unique local businesses, and plenty of natural beauty. It has a quaint, small-town vibe, but is not located far from the big cities. It is a perfect option for a day trip from LA or other parts of the OC, or even as a laid-back weekend getaway.
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16 best things to do in san juan capistrano, california
Abundant evidence of prehistoric Native American life and several local families trace their ancestry to these tribes. It is best known to be the home of Mission San Juan Capistrano, the seventh of the 21 California missions. This was the religious, cultural, and economic center of the region. Because many of the builders and ranchers of the missions lived nearby, this also created the oldest continually occupied neighborhood in California. Today, San Juan Capistrano is a community that celebrates its unique heritage, and is also home to many one-of-a-kind local businesses and restaurants.
Overpeople visit the city and mission every year. There really is no bad time to visit San Juan Capistrano. As with the rest of Southern California, it enjoys pretty much year-round sunshine and mild temperatures. Summer brings the longest days for more time to enjoy the best things to do in San Juan Capistrano, however it brings the hottest temperatures.
Keep in mind that unlike the beach cities of Orange County, San Juan Capistrano is located a bit inland, so it will be a bit warmer. Winter is relatively mild as well, with highs still hovering around the low 70s Fahrenheit, though it may rain a little.
Spring is a beautiful time to visit though, because of all the spring blooms that come alive in the area, especially at the mission! Every year in March, the swallows migrate back to San Juan Capistrano after spending the winter in the Southern Hemisphere. On St. This is a super fun time to visit San Juan Capistrano! Do note that the mission which is the highlight of the things to do in San Juan Capistrano is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, as are many other businesses.
I would avoid visiting on those days. There is plenty of public parking available in the downtown area, although it is much busier on the weekends. If you want to skip driving in traffic, you can take the train here for a fun little adventure. San Juan Capistrano is served by both Metro l ink and Amtrakand the train station is right in the center of town, right next to all the best things to do in San Juan Capistrano!
It takes roughly an hour and 20 minutes to get here from DTLA via train, which is often faster than sitting in traffic! Because of this, it is an excellent place to escape for a day trip. You can even extend your adventures into a leisurely weekend trip — you are close enough to the hustle and bustle of LA, but far enough to make it seem like an escape. The Mission San Juan Capistrano is the jewel of the city, and one of the most fascinating historical sites in Orange County.
Paying it a visit is one of the top things to do in San Juan Capistrano and an absolute must! The Mission San Juan Capistrano is the seventh out of the 21 California missions intended to convert the native population to Catholicism and expand Spanish territory.
Named for Saint John of Capestrano, a town in the Abruzzo province of Italy, the mission dates back to The mission thrived for about 30 years and over people lived there at one point. Inan earthquake caused the Great Stone Church to collapse. Combined with other factors such as disease, a declining birth rate, and inadequate supplies from the Spanish government, the mission began to decline. InSpain sold Alta California to Mexico, and the mission system ended. InCalifornia officially became a state of the United States of America.
16 best things to do in san juan capistrano, california
During its heyday, mission became a place that served as the religious, agricultural, and cultural center in the region. In addition to being shown the ways of Christianity, natives were taught Spanish agricultural techniques and village life. Farming and cattle ranching were big industries here, and it is said that the first wine produced in California was fermented here. One of the main ones is the Serra Chapel, named after the priest who founded the mission. There are also s of textile production here, from the vats used for fabric dying, to the looms used for weaving.
It is worth noting that this obviously disrupted the culture and population of the Acjachemen, the Native Americans who lived in the area. While the Spanish brought modern ideas and ways of living with them, the Acjachemen were asked to change everything about their way of life. The Spanish also brought many germs and diseases with them, and this caused the native population as well as the plant life to decrease ificantly. It is a place of religious, cultural, and historical ificance. I loved walking through the grounds here, admiring the beautifully preserved colonial architecture, looking at the rooms, and imagining what life was like back then.
Looking at the remains of the Great Stone Church was fascinating. My favorite part was walking through the gardens, since it was in the springtime and everything was blooming — absolutely beautiful! Expect to spend about two hours here. Your admission includes a free audio guide, but I decided to roam the grounds on my own. If you want more insight into the history and ificance of the mission, as well as the surrounding historic districts, consider taking this walking tour.
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With homes dating back tothis is the oldest continually occupied neighborhood in California. Back when the Mission San Juan Capistrano was in operation, this was where in which the ranchers and builders once lived. Today, about 40 homes still remain in the neighborhood, including three abode structures. Many of the homes are private residences, but some of them have been converted into shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
I love the Los Rios Historic District because it is so charming, and wandering through it is like stepping back in time. Strolling through here is almost like walking through the real-life Stars Hollow any other Gilmore Girls fans out there? I recommend at least spending a few hours here, stopping for some coffee or brunch, and checking out some of the eclectic boutiques selling art, antiques, and more.
If you want to learn more about the history of the neighborhood, the San Juan Historical Society offers a walking tour of the area every Saturday at 1pm. Tours depart from the train depot and last approximately 45 minutes.
For more information, see h ere.
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Did you know that the Mission San Juan Capistrano may have been the first mission to grow grapes, and the first wine in the state? Stopping here for a glass or two! Rancho Capistrano Winery offers a selection of more than 40 different wines, with many award-winning varietals in their selection. They also have a beautiful 3, square foot patio in the back, which is the perfect place to relax after exploring all the best things to do in San Juan Capistrano. They also serve a full lunch, brunch, and dinner menu.
Another option for wine lovers is Five Vines Wine Barwhich boasts over 65 boutique wines in their selection. You can choose from 10 different flights or create your ownor order by the glass or bottle. They also offer a selection of small plates, cheese and charcuterie boards, and desserts to snack on while you taste.
Orange County has an up-and-coming craft brewing scene with some great breweries in Anaheim, Costa Mesaand San Clementeand San Juan Capistrano boasts some awesome craft brews of its own. One of my favorite things to do in San Juan Capistrano on a sunny afternoon is to hang out on the patio at Capistrano Brewing Companylocated right in the historic downtown area.
They offer a selection of 12 different brews on tap here, with a mix of their own and a selection of beers from other local breweries in the area. I definitely would love to come back to try the BBQ while sipping my beer. Also check out Docent Brewing.