It was the summer of the first moon landing, and my Dad got it into his head to roll out the spanking new Chevy Bel-Air, toss his three kids into the back of it, and drive from one end of the country to the other and back again.
It didn't quite go down like that. My father is a very meticulous man. But whatever possessed him to risk permanent psychological damage by sharing three weeks of his life, twenty-four hours a day, with three small children -- albeit his own -- is the kind of decision families talk about for generations.
He had a few tricks up his sleeve, though. He would hustle us all out of bed at four o'clock in the morning, stuff us into the car like poultry, and zoom away into the still-dark night, driving as far west as he could before stopping for breakfast, and usually clearing five-hundred miles by noon.
His children would be essentially comatose for most of that time, the traffic would be non-existant, state patrols would be too busy picking up the donuts to notice the rocket flying by from east to west, and the flat, hot hammer of the sun would remain at bay from nearly start to finish.
We saw a lot of places that summer, from Gettysburg to Monterey, from Mount Rushmore to the St. Louis Arch. And every stop along the way seemed to be filled with just the sorts of things kids love to get their parents to buy on trips like this one. That is, cheesy, touristy, junk.
The three of us were in heaven.
My father, not so much. But he willingly forked out the cabbage on one reasonably-priced item for the day, knowing it was a way to cement the memory of that place into our young and fertile noggins.
By the time we hit the west coast, we were hip deep in kitschy cr@p, and we still had the length of the country to cover on our return.
Inevitably, we wound our way down to Capistrano, and something about it seemed to break my Dad's heart. It wasn't in particularly good shape at the time, the world knew it best for a noodle-headed song about the swallows, and there, in what was essentially a house of God, they were selling more of that junk than you can imagine.
For once, I recall being disappointed as well. I was about as religious as any boy not heading for a sainthood, which meant I got the picture-book version and not much else. But it seemed, if not entirely sacrilegious, then in really lousy taste, to set up shop for swallow whistles and plastic crosses in a place with that kind of history, and that original purpose.
Many years later, I knew I had to return to the mission -- I was just too close to pass it up -- but I did so with a kind of dread, recalling the moneychangers who had overwhelmed the temple before.
There are redemption stories in all our lives, I imagine, and this is one for me.
The place is beautiful now. They have restored it to the point where it stands on its own as an elegy to the mission that it once was.
The gardens are well-kept, and breathtakingly beautiful. The refurbished central square is gorgeous, and its surrounding buildings look crisp, well-constructed, and authentic down to the smallest detail.
Inside them you'll find what are essentially two museums: one for liturgical art and artifacts, the other for native american art, history and culture. The barracks (it served as a fort for part of its history), and friars' quarters have been restored and appointed as well as any of that sort of exhibit I have ever seen.
And the old mission itself, a marvel of architecture for 18th century South California has been refurbished and repurposed as a set of ruins, august, bright and somber by turn; but, again, simply beautiful.
And the new cathedral built outside the grounds -- folks, I'm running out of superlatives here. Let me just say that you will need to make that extra trip around the corner to get there. The exterior and interior will show you how a modern-day Catholic church can be constructed to both complement and act as a jewel for a community.
You have to go. I implore you with all the implorin' I got.
It's a marvel, it's part of our history, and it's less than half an hour from the John Wayne Airport.
And the cheesy tourist stuff? Oh, that's moved across the street now, in Rich in history. Dating back to 1776...this Mission is worth a visit...the grounds are beautiful and the ruins are breathtaking..
#weekend getaway No treatment of the exterior of the mission is complete without a look at the gardens. They are literally everywhere you look, and seem to be attended to with a care and precision to match that of any palace or private mansion. And, since this is Southern California, almost anything will grow, so the variety and abundance of flora is astounding, sometimes overwhelming. The central Koi Fountain
And what do kids get to do while adults are soaking up all the art, history and culture? For a nominal fee (included with certain admission packages), you can purchase a packet of food to feed to the enormous -- and voracious -- koi, which swim in the fountain at the center of the mission.
As big and initially intimidating as these creatures are, they have a remarkably calming effect if you sit and watch them for awhile. Until today, I find I have been able to keep pace -- day for day -- with the vacation I was on a week ago.
However, the visit to Mission at San Juan Capistrano is one I'm going to have to stretch out for at least a couple of days.
There's just too much there.
I'll close tonight with this photo of the ruins of the original mission. It is just to the right of the first photo I posted.
There will be more of the grounds tomorrow, and I'll be able to move inside to some of the marvels in the museums as well.
What I'll probably need to do is create another gallery on my web log, stuff it with photos and just select a few for Trover.
No point in monopolizing the The bells of Mission San Juan Capistrano have a long and storied history. One of the few things (actually there are four of them), to survive the earthquake, they were collected and placed in a campanario erected to act as a campanile after the original collapsed.
Today, all four bells in the campanario proper are replicas, and there remain only two originals displayed on the mission grounds in the spot where the original campanile stood.
This is one of those originals, and you can see the damage caused to it by the earthquake two hundred years ago.
Each of the bells has a name. This one is called San Juan.
The next largest bell inscription reads, “ave maria purisima me fesit ruelas Ime yamo s. juan, 1796”
The English translation reads, “Hail Mary most pure. Ruelas made me, and my name is San Juan, 1796.” Time for a change of pace.
As I mentioned in my original posts about San Juan Capistrano, the ruins of the original church -- we would probably call it a cathedral today -- have been left intact but restored in place. You can let your imagination wander to envision what the church must have been like in its original glory, but, at the same time, get a real sense of the destruction caused by the earthquake which razed much of it to the ground. There are so many other exhibits in the interior structure of the mission that merit time and attention.
I'll post from this location with a little less frequency from now on, but hope to convey at least a portion of the breadth and depth of the material displayed here.
This is from a room with a large, slightly depressed well. I believe it was used to store olive oil or wine. California vibe. Blossom from the prickly pear cactus posted previously. Certain portions of the mission's gardens seem to have been installed solely for the purpose of offering visitors a place to relax and take in the remarkable scenery that surrounds them. These painted details appear all through the chapel along the edges of the walls and lining the ceiling. With all the beauty that surrounds them, it is difficult to realize just how inventive and colorful they really are. I thought I'd give you a look at an area where they actually come to the foreground just to see how remarkable they are.
Whew, I've posted a lot of pictures from the chapel this evening. Please indulge me, the place is just too extraordinary to pass by in a hurry.
Tomorrow we move back out onto the grounds and investigate a few of the other exhibits at the mission. Among them will be a couple of museums (because that is really all you can call them), one devoted to the liturgical art from the mission's past, and one dedicated to the Native Americans who lived in the area. Tabernacle from the Mission Collection
The card reads:
This 18th century Mission Colonial tabernacle with its intricate carvings and vibrant paint was designed to stand out from other furnishings in a chapel and inspire reverence for the contents housed inside. It was used within the Serra Chapel to store the Eucharist (consecrated bread consumed by church members) until such time that it was replaced by a larger tabernacle.
Object: Tabernacle
Date: 1800s
Artist: unknown
Materials: Wood, paint, silver, and gold
Condition: Excellent, conserved in the early 1990s.
Cost to conserve: None Mess Hall and Soldiers' Sleeping Quarters
Each of the Missions in the Spanish system also served as a fort, with a handful of soldiers assigned to each one. The Mission San Juan Capistrano was no exception. This monument serves as a memorial to the only remaining internment at the Mission cemetery, Father John O'Sullivan, who initiated and oversaw the restoration of the grounds during the early twentieth century. This monument was originally erected by Father O'Sullivan to memorialize all those who worked on originally building and restoring the mission.
The placard at the cemetery reads:
Historic Mission Cemetery
The Mission cemetery served as burial land for the local people. The first burial was recorded on March 9, 1781 and it is believed that approximately 2,000 people were buried here. Internments ended in 1850 and were relocated to land east of this Mission. An exception was made in 1934 to inter Father John O’Sullivan, who during his 23-year residency directed the restoration at the Mission. Father O’Sullivan also installed the tall monument in the cemetery as a memorial to those who built this Mission. The black, granite marker memorializes the Spanish soldier, José Antonio Yorba, who helped found the Mission. Detail from the arbor. Every part of the grounds incorporates some horticultural detail. You won't find yourself anywhere in the mission without seen some accompanying flora integrated into the landscape and the architecture Bird of Paradise from the mission gardens. This structure is the campanario or Monstrous Agave on the grounds of the mission. Tide pools teeming with life make for a beautiful spot to amble across a rocky beach and watch the sun set. Commanding views of the Salt Creek beach allowed me to eat my huevos rancheros and watch the dolphins surf alongside the short boarders. I slept really well here, though full surf days help. Kitchen in Mission's interior, restored to its original condition. Warm afternoon in May enjoying the historic site. Detail from the arbor. Father Serra Chapel
Chapel of Sanctus Peregrinus
(St. Peregrine, San Pelligrino)
Situated to the rear-right of the chapel (as you are facing the altar), is a small entryway which leads into a chapel as most of us define it.
This is dedicated to St. Peregrine, whose affiliation with the order or the church itself isn't something easily discovered (I haven't yet).
However, he is the patron saint of cancer sufferers, and the diocese makes the chapel available without charge to any worshiper [read that, anyone] during the hours of its regularly-scheduled masses. Altar Adornments (18th and 19th centuries) – Candlesticks on an altar represent the joy of Christ’s birth. These silver candlesticks were included in the original supplies Father Serra brought to found Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1776. A crucifix is symbolic of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made by dying on the cross. It is the main adornment on a Catholic altar. The reflection of light on silver altar frames symbolizes the glory of God. The frames are used to display cards with passages from the gospels and assist priests when they recite prayers during mass.
[On the card but not in the URL referenced below: Notice that it appears that this crucifix has a bullet hole <directly above the head of Christ>] And, since this is Southern California, much of the native flora has been lavishly incorporated into the property. I've never seen a cactus quite like this, though I must assume it is some sort of prickly pear. There is just so much to see at Mission San Juan Capistrano that a single day may not be enough to cover it. We were there five hours and change and still missed out on a number of things. And of the things we saw, I've only chosen to post perhaps sixty-percent. Each of the exhibits contains extensive background information, most of it intriguing and some just plain entertaining. You'll walk away with a new-found appreciation for the role the Mission played in the history of the development of Southern California. It has always been considered the Father Serra Chapel
Painting of Station XII of the Cross
This painting is very striking, but presents a kind of double-trap for photographers. The canvas itself is very dark, rendered in a mode of chiaroscuro to lend an even more somber tone to the scene it depicts. It was restored along with most of the rest of the artifacts inside the chapel, so the dark colors are not a product of aging or dirt and grime.
The second Awesome view Native American Museum and Interpretive Center
I present these without attribution, but you can see, there are some extraordinary pieces here.
[I have to apologize in advance for not being able to attribute these articles appropriately. They were labelled clearly enough, but I relied on the fact that I'd be able to associate them to the guide provided by the mission. However, there was either no such guide, or I failed to retrieve one from the admission center. Subsequent attempts to locate one online have not been fruitful.]
OK, time to pay homage to the little critters who put this place on the cultural map.
When Leon René wrote and the Ink Spots recorded the song Native American Museum and Interpretive Center
I present these without attribution, but you can see, there are some extraordinary pieces here.
[I have to apologize in advance for not being able to attribute these articles appropriately. They were labelled clearly enough, but I relied on the fact that I'd be able to associate them to the guide provided by the mission. However, there was either no such guide, or I failed to retrieve one from the admission center. Subsequent attempts to locate one online have not been fruitful.]
Beautiful grounds to walk around The padre with indigenous boy Love having the chance to learn a little history during vacation! Found out that these bells line the El Camino Real (600 mile mission trail) in California. Spotted it down in San Diego and found more bells as I continued to travel northward. Fun spotting them along the way! Spartan padre's quarters, restored to their original condition. Lovely place for a pic nic, get tan and swim Sitting Room
From a placard in the room:
During the Mission’s most productive years (1812-1832), this sitting room served as the padres’ “headquarters.” Here they met with traders, ship captains, visiting priests and dignitaries, and also worked with Mission alcades (supervisors) to coordinate day-to-day activities. In the evening, the padres wrote letters, updated ledgers and read. Father Serra Chapel, Altar (Detail) #SpringFun exploring new places and watching the boats sail in to the harbor Awesome place for a weekend walk A California sunset, clear skies and the sound of the ocean running over the rocks makes Strand Beach a great stop.
#BvSWater #ocean 🌼🌼 Crazy Mexican decor. see the hot rod marlin, eat the carnitas tomatillo, and drink the Casa made organic tequila. Tricky Dick pics on the wall. Really enjoyed this place. Hike to Mt. San Gorgonio (11,503ft/ 3,506m) via South Fork Trail/ North Face. This was the view from our campsite at Dry Lake (~9000ft) as the sunrise touched the mountains. To climb the North Face in the winter, crampons and ice axe are needed. Mission San Juan Capistrano was a Spanish mission in colonial Las Californias. Its ruins are located in present-day San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, southern California. Beautiful sunset picture of my daughter. First time to California. Love this place went every year while living in CA.
#green View from Pacific Coast Hwy1  Some of the older parts of the mission Beautiful walk watching the boats come in and out of the harbor. Looking over PCH at Capistrano Beach near sunset. Very beautiful and peaceful. I didn't know about the missions throughout California until a recent pit stop at Mission San Juan Capistrano! Apparently 4th graders in the state will typically go visit local mission's to learn the history of the mission work! The grounds were amazing there and there were plenty of opportunities for photos. The 7th mission out of 21 founded in 1776. There is a memorial in this section to mission bell ringer for 42 years, Paul Arbiso. Follow the mission bells on El Camino Real to see all the missions. #Blue #StunningStructures #Green #InStone #californiamissions #spanish #gocdaworld Walk with this view. Walking the outdoor halls Droning between client visits Built in 1776 as part of the “mission “ to convert the ingenious people to Christianity there are 21 missions that were built by the Spanish. Mission San Juan Capistrano Beautiful A beautiful walk from Dana Point all the way to San Clemente. The inside of the church. They still have noon mass here Quick trail run. Dana Point Harbor. Morning at the Dana Cove. Buzzn The little fountain just inside the front entrance of the mission with the old stone church and a statue of St. Junipero Serra in the background. Cool view looking down on Dana point Nice Really nice cup combo bike shop and coffee what could be better
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Get an overview of this hotelHotel in Dana Point with free breakfast and outdoor pool

Popular property highlights

Free breakfast
Pets allowed
Free WiFi
Swimming pool
Business center


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).

Hotel Features

An outdoor pool, a 24-hour fitness center, and a 24-hour business center are available at this hotel. Free full breakfast and free WiFi in public areas are also provided. Other amenities include self parking, a meeting room, and dry cleaning.

Room Amenities

All 87 rooms provide conveniences like refrigerators and coffee makers, plus free WiFi and cable TV. Free newspapers, free local calls, and hair dryers are among the other amenities that guests will find.

Languages Spoken

Best Western Plus Marina Shores Hotel

Hotel Amenities

Hotel Amenities

Best Western Plus Marina Shores Hotel features an outdoor pool and a 24-hour fitness center. Wireless Internet access is complimentary. Business-related amenities consist of a 24-hour business center and a meeting room. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast each morning. Event facilities measure 675 square feet (63 square meters). This business-friendly hotel also offers multilingual staff, complimentary newspapers in the lobby, and laundry facilities. Parking is available onsite for a surcharge.

Best Western Plus Marina Shores Hotel has designated areas for smoking.

  • Safe-deposit box at front desk 
  • Conference space size (meters) - 63 
  • Elevator/lift 
  • 24-hour business center 
  • Conference space size (feet) - 675 
  • Designated smoking areas 
  • 24-hour front desk 
  • Free breakfast 
  • Laundry facilities 
  • 24-hour fitness facilities 
  • Total number of rooms - 87 
  • One meeting room 
  • Free WiFi 
  • Number of floors - 3 
  • Dry cleaning/laundry service 
  • Self parking (surcharge) 
  • Number of buildings/towers - 1 
  • Outdoor pool 
  • Multilingual staff 
  • Free newspapers in lobby 

Family Friendly Amenities

  • Family Hotel  
  • Outdoor pool  
  • Free Wi-Fi  
  • Laundry facilities  
  • Refrigerator  
  • Cribs/infant beds (complimentary)  


Available in all rooms: Free WiFi

Available in some public areas: Free WiFi

Languages Spoken

  • English
  • Polish
  • Spanish


Self parking (surcharge)

Room Amenities

  • Free WiFi 
  • Free cribs/infant beds 
  • Air conditioning 
  • Free newspaper 
  • Free local calls 
  • Refrigerator 
  • Coffee/tea maker 
  • Private bathroom 
  • Hair dryer 
  • Shower/tub combination 
  • Desk 
  • Cable TV service 
  • Iron/ironing board 
  • Number of bathrooms -  
  • Connecting/adjoining rooms available 

Where to Eat

Guests are offered a complimentary full breakfast each morning.

Nearby Things to Do

Recreational amenities at the hotel include an outdoor pool and a 24-hour fitness center.

Children under 16 years old are not allowed in the swimming pool or fitness facility without adult supervision.


If you have requests for specific accessibility needs, please note them at check-out when you book your room.

  • Accessible bathroom 
  • Roll-in shower 
  • In-room accessibility 

Hotel Policies


Check-in time starts at 3:00 PM


Check-out time is 11 AM

Payment types

Children and extra beds

  • Children are welcome.
  • Rollaway/extra beds are not available.
  • Free cribs (infant beds)!


  • Pets allowed for an extra charge of USD 20 per day (maximum USD 100 per stay)
  • 2 per room

You need to know

Extra-person charges may apply and vary depending on property policy.

Government-issued photo identification and a credit card are required at check-in for incidental charges.
Special requests are subject to availability upon check-in and may incur additional charges. Special requests cannot be guaranteed.
No rollaway/extra beds available


Optional extras

The following fees and deposits are charged by the property at time of service, check-in, or check-out.
  • Self parking fee: USD 10 per night
  • Pet fee: USD 20 per day (maximum USD 100 per stay)
The above list may not be comprehensive. Fees and deposits may not include tax and are subject to change.

Hotel Name

  • Best Western Marina Shores
  • Best Western Marina Shores Hotel
  • Best Western Plus Marina
  • Best Western Plus Marina Shores
  • Best Western Plus Marina Shores Dana Point
  • Best Western Plus Marina Shores Hotel
  • Best Western Plus Marina Shores Hotel Dana Point
  • Hotel Best Western Marina
  • Marina Shores Best Western
  • Marina Shores Hotel

We should mention

The property has connecting/adjoining rooms, which are subject to availability and can be requested by contacting the property using the number on the booking confirmation.

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