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Mission San Juan Capistrano

Once a religious and agricultural community of a thousand, this mission is now an Orange County historic cultural hub.

More than 200 years ago, Mission San Juan Capistrano was built as a self-sufficient community focusing on agriculture, industry, education and religion. The historic landmark is one of 21 missions established across California. Many consider it the birthplace of Orange County.

The mission was founded in the late 1700s to expand the boundaries of Spain and spread Christianity to Native Americans in the area. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination that educates visitors about California’s multicultural history.

The mission was at its peak at the turn of the century, and by 1806 it had a population of more than 1,000 people and their farm animals. The centerpiece was — and still is — the architectural triumph, the Great Stone Church.

Explore museum exhibits, 10 acres (4 hectares) of beautiful gardens, and fountains and preserved architecture, including the original chapel. Children will enjoy the Koi Fish Feeding, panning for gold and adobe brick making, while everyone can try the Native American Basket Weaving, which is held twice a month.

If you’re visiting in March, don’t miss the remarkable Return of the Swallows on St. Joseph’s Day. The birds flock to the mission in large numbers every year and begin building their mud nests directly in the ruins of the church. To celebrate their return, festivities take place at the mission, including live mariachi music, performances and presentations.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is open daily, excluding some public holidays. Try to allow for a full day here to get a good look around and take part in some of the daily activities. If you’re stretched for time, a one-hour tour is available on weekends. You can also take a self-guided audio tour any day of the week. (Free with admission.)

It takes about 25 minutes to drive to Mission San Juan Capistrano from downtown Santa Ana or the South Coast Plaza, and there’s plenty of free public parking. Public transport also services the area.


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Best Lodging Options Near Mission San Juan Capistrano

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Best Western Capistrano Inn $90
Best Western Capistrano Inn

Best Western Capistrano Inn

27174 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA
     
    2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in San Juan Capistrano, this motel is 0.4 mi (0.6 km) from Mission San Juan Capistrano and 1.9 mi (3.1 km) from The Coach House. Doheny State Beach and Dana Point Harbor are also within 6 mi (10 km). San Juan Capistrano Depot is 9 minutes by foot.

    Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Autograph Collection by Marriott
    Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Autograph Collection by Marriott

    Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Autograph Collection by Marriott

    31692 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano, CA
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      This family-friendly San Juan Capistrano hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Mission San Juan Capistrano and The Coach House. Doheny State Beach and Capistrano Beach Park are also within 6 mi (10 km). San Juan Capistrano Depot is 6 minutes by foot.

      Casa Belardes- Family & Pet Friendly. Beaches! Restaurants! Historic Downtown!
      Casa Belardes- Family & Pet Friendly. Beaches! Restaurants! Historic Downtown!

      Casa Belardes- Family & Pet Friendly. Beaches! Restaurants! Historic Downtown!

      San Juan Capistrano, CA
         
        0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in San Juan Capistrano, this historic vacation home is 0.7 mi (1.2 km) from Mission San Juan Capistrano and 1.8 mi (2.9 km) from The Coach House. Doheny State Beach and Dana Point Harbor are also within 6 mi (10 km). San Juan Capistrano Depot is 15 minutes by foot.

        Modern Condo in the Heart of OC
        Modern Condo in the Heart of OC

        Modern Condo in the Heart of OC

        San Juan Capistrano, CA
           
          0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in the mountains, this vacation home is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) from Mission San Juan Capistrano and 2.5 mi (4 km) from The Coach House. Rancho Capistrano Soccer Complex is 2.8 mi (4.6 km) away. San Juan Capistrano Depot is 18 minutes by foot.

          DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Doheny Beach - Dana Point $179
          DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Doheny Beach - Dana Point

          DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Doheny Beach - Dana Point

          34402 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Capistrano Beach, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Lantern Bay County Park, Doheny State Beach, and Dana Point Harbor. The Coach House is 1.7 mi (2.7 km) away.

            Beachfront Inn and Suites at Dana Point $170
            Beachfront Inn and Suites at Dana Point

            Beachfront Inn and Suites at Dana Point

            34734 Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA
               
              2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Capistrano Beach, this beach hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Capistrano Beach Park and Doheny State Beach. Dana Point Harbor and The Coach House are also within 3 mi (5 km).

              Villa San Juan Capistrano - Luxury Nestled in San Juan Hills
              Villa San Juan Capistrano - Luxury Nestled in San Juan Hills

              Villa San Juan Capistrano - Luxury Nestled in San Juan Hills

              San Juan Capistrano, CA
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                This family-friendly San Juan Capistrano vacation home is within 3 mi (5 km) of Mission San Juan Capistrano and The Coach House. Doheny State Beach and Capistrano Beach Park are also within 6 mi (10 km).

                Residence Inn by Marriott Dana Point San Juan Capistrano $199
                Residence Inn by Marriott Dana Point San Juan Capistrano

                Residence Inn by Marriott Dana Point San Juan Capistrano

                33711 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Del Obispo, this aparthotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of The Coach House, Doheny State Beach, and Dana Point Harbor. Mission San Juan Capistrano and Ocean Institute are also within 3 mi (5 km).