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.
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. Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club and Saddleback College are also within 6 mi (10 km).
Situated in San Juan Capistrano, this condo building is close to Mission San Juan Capistrano, The Coach House, and Sea Canyon Park. Local attractions also include Rancho Capistrano Soccer Complex and Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club.
Situated near the beach, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Doheny State Beach, Dana Point Harbor, and Lantern Bay County Park. Dana Cove Park and Ocean Institute are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Situated by the ocean, this vacation home is close to The Coach House, Mission San Juan Capistrano, and Sea Canyon Park. Also nearby are Lantern Bay County Park and Doheny State Beach.
Situated by the ocean, this aparthotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of The Coach House and Doheny State Beach. Dana Point Harbor and Mission San Juan Capistrano are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Located in Monarch Beach, this spa resort is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) from Salt Creek Beach Park and within 3 mi (5 km) of Harbor Point Park and Nature Interpretive Center. Sea Canyon Park and Thousand Steps Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Laguna Cliffs is just minutes from many pro-level golf courses, including Monarch Beach and Talega; several high-end shopping centers; and scenic Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Situated by the ocean, this property is close to Sea Canyon Park, Lantern Bay County Park, and Dana Cove Park. Also nearby are Dana Point Harbor and Ocean Institute.