San Juan Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano sits between Los Angeles and San Diego along the California coast. It is easy to reach by car by taking the I-5 to the Ortega Highway (State Route 74) interchange. Better yet, 1 San Juan Capistrano station is in the center of the historic downtown area, across the street from Mission San Juan Capistrano. The station is served by Amtrak via its Pacific Surfliner line, and Metrolink's Orange County and Inland Empire lines.
Everything is within walking distance.
During the summer, two trolleys on 20-minute frequencies run in a continuous loop from downtown San Juan Capistrano (La Zanja Street) to a Dana Point trolley service stop at Stonehill Drive and Del Obispo Street. The Dana Point Trolley also connects to a Laguna Beach Trolley. Trolley rides are free.
- 1 Mission San Juan Capistrano, 26801 Ortega Hwy, ☏ . Daily 9AM-5PM. This is a historic California mission founded in 1776 by Spanish missionary Junipero Serra. It was the first mission to grow grapes. Today it is a museum where tours of the site are offered and masses are still celebrated in its Serra Chapel (the only existing building where Serra is known to have preached). Audio tours are included with museum admission. The site houses ruins of a collapsed portion of the "Great Stone Church" and the annual "Return of the Swallows" observed March 19. Adults $9, seniors (60+) $8, children (under 11) $6, children (under 3) free.
- 2 Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, 31520 Camino Capistrano, ☏ , fax: . This church is a stunning building built to match the design of the mission's Great Stone Church which was destroyed by an 18th-century earthquake.
- 3 O'Neill Museum, 31831 Los Rios St., ☏ , [email protected]. A small museum that documents life in San Juan Capistrano in the 1880s. Also features an extensive collection of historical photos that can be browsed.
- 4 Caspers Wilderness Park.
- 5 Ortega's Capistrano Trading Post (Trading Post), 31741 Camino Capistrano, ☏ . M-F 10:30AM-6PM, Sa Su 10:30AM-6PM. Ortega's Capistrano Trading Post is across the street from the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano. The Trading Post has a rich history. The original Old Mission Trading Post was built by Henry Oliver in 1947. It was built on the site of Fred Stoffel's former San Juan Inn Cafe (first cafe in SJC) which had also served as Fred Cason's movie house during the 1920s. The facade was changed in 1953 to the Western false front appearance it has today. They are 7th generation experts in Native American Indian Jewelry & Turquoise. They also offer San Juan Capistrano souvenirs, religious goods, artwork, crafts from local San Juan Capistrano artists and California Mission Collectibles.
- Second Saturday Art Fair, Camino Capistrano & Yorba Street, ☏ . 11AM-4PM. A juried display and sale of fine art, jewelry, and crafts that coincides with the Living History Day at the Mission. free.
- Swallows Parade. Every spring the largest non-motorized parade in the country celebrates the return of the swallows and the town's old west heritage. Additional events from January through March bring an old west flavor to the town.
- Music Under the Stars. On summer evenings, the Mission's music under the stars series features concerts in the mission as the sun sets over the mission walls.
- The Camino Real Playhouse. An 88-seat theater. Each spring, the melodrama is a major event with audience members cheering for the hero and booing and throwing foam rocks at the villain between bouts of laughter.
- The Los Rios District. The oldest continuously occupied street in California and has a mix of residences and little shops on a beautiful shaded street. It is across the tracks from the train station.
- Zoomars (formerly the Jones Mini Farm). A petting zoo really done right. It is owned by a rare bird dealer and is always close to immaculate and very well staffed. It also has facilities for parties.
The historical downtown area along Camino Capistrano adjacent to the mission is lined with small shops.
- The Antiques Barn. Nearly a block long and full of regional antiques
San Juan Capistrano is known for its wide variety of fine dining. Skip the fast food joints by the highway. There are half a dozen fine restaurants within 200 yards of the rail station.
- Pedro's Tacos. All the locals know that the best fish tacos anywhere are found at a little taco stand across from the mission.
- 1 3:16 Bakery Shop, 26762 Verdugo St., ☏ . Small bakery shop located right by the rail station. They sell cakes, pastries, other baked goods, coffee, espresso, tea, gelato, and frozen yogurt.
There are a few bars south of the Mission
Head inland on Ortega Highway to go hiking in natural California wildernesses.
|Routes through San Juan Capistrano
|Santa Ana ← Mission Viejo ←
|→ Dana Point → San Diego
|Los Angeles ← Irvine ←
|→ San Clemente → San Diego