San Juan Capistrano is that small town that you may never know unless you’re a local, you grew up in the area or you’re a very savvy tourist. It is one of the places in O.C. that I can go back to multiple times and never get tired of it. To me, it feels like home. There’s a sense of a community and it offers quite a bit, probably, more than you think.
San Juan Capistrano is located in Orange County, CA. with a population of approx. 36,000. It neighbors Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo and Dana Point which, you can reach via the 5 freeway (the easiest way).
The city was built around the Mission of San Juan Capistrano with many of the architectures created with a Spanish influence. It is also known for the cliff swallows that apparently, migrate from Argentina to San Juan Capistrano each year. The city holds an annual Swallows Day parade to celebrate the migration in March, an event that I have yet to attend (saving this on my bucket list).
Among the places that I think are worth seeing are listed below:
- Mission San Juan Capistrano: The main attraction of the city that is rich with history and will teach you about its historic mission, artifacts and the preservation of its architecture. The museum’s entrance fee is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (60+), $7 Children (4-11yrs. old) & Under 3 years old is free.
2. Los Rios District: the oldest residential neighborhood in California. You’ll find original structures of homes from the early 1800’s & 1900’s.
This is one of my favorite spots in the area. There’s a few coffee and tea shops here that are worth visiting. I had the chance to meet some friends at the Tea House on Los Rios and it’s a quaint historical cottage that truly brings you back in time.
3. Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano: a Catholic parish with a 42 foot high and 30 foot wide altar covered in gold leaf. The interior is designed with decorative art found on the walls and high arches that reminds me a bit of some churches in Europe.
4. Northwest Open Space: Created in 2010, this place has more than 500 acres of open space that was created for the public. This is a great place to go on short walks, see the wild mustard flowers that bloom in the spring and simply enjoy nature.
5. San Juan Capistrano Regional Library: Probably one of the prettiest library around and a great find for $1 – $5 books in the gift shop. Who said bookstores are dead?
Have you been to San Juan Capistrano? What was your experience like?