Historic San Juan Capistrano is a must visit for anyone who wants to learn about California’s origins and culture. But there’s more to this beautiful city than a storied past.
Take a look at some of the many sights and activities you can experience in San Juan Capistrano.
Take a Walking Tour of the City’s Historic Places
San Juan Capistrano is named after the first mission to have been established in Orange County, making it the county’s birthplace. The city is rife with history, reflecting California’s own, and many of its historic buildings and structures have been preserved through the centuries.
Every walking tour has to include the Mission. Built in 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano is known as the most beautiful of all Spanish missions. The relics include the original Stone Church, the Friar’s quarters, a cemetery and a lovely garden. Events are held here almost every week, including concerts, fashion shows, and garden shows.
The Los Rios Historic District is another area where you can get a glimpse of California’s past. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods that still exists in Orange County and features three adobe homes built in 1794 for families who belonged to the Mission.
The district also includes 28 other structures, including the O’Neill Museum, one of the city’s oldest homes. Other historical places to visit include homes and buildings built in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Relish the City’s Open Spaces
About 40% of San Juan Capistrano is devoted to open spaces, some of which are raw, undeveloped land. The rest include parks, trails, private recreation areas and preservation areas.
The city’s trails include hiking, biking, and multi-use trails. With equestrian being a significant part of the community life, most trails in the city are designed to accommodate riding.
The city has around 26 parks. The most popular ones include Zoomars Petting Zoo, Caspers Wilderness Park, and The Sports Park. The parks may be used for private events with permits from the city government.
Enjoy the Equestrian Lifestyle
San Juan Capistrano is a popular equestrian destination and boasts several equestrian communities. In addition to miles of riding trails and several riding parks, the city is also home to numerous stables and boarding facilities, as well as equestrian related services, such as training, veterinary care, and feed and supply stores.
Join Festive Community Events
The city holds annual festivities that bring residents and visitors together, including:
- Fiesta de las Golondrinas or The Swallows Festival – This celebrates the annual return of the swallows from their migration to Argentina. The festivities include the Governor’s Ball, a parade, and a street fair.
- The Battle of the Mariachis Festival – This hugely popular competition among the top mariachi groups in Southern California is held yearly at the Mission.
- Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo – Held annually in August at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, the two-day competition features various events and offers the largest rodeo purses.
- The Vintage Food and Wine Festival – Boasting sold-out attendance almost every year, this event puts the spotlight on the products of local wineries and breweries, restaurants, bakeries and other food establishments.
Watch Performances at the Camino Real Playhouse
The Camino Real Playhouse is the community theater. It stages more than 100 full productions every year, including Shakespeare plays, playwriting festivals, and children’s productions. The theater also offers drama classes for adults and kids.