Step back in time- San Juan Capistrano Day Trip Itinerary

Nestled between golden hills just a few minutes from the coast,  San Juan Capistrano is home to both Mission San Juan Capistrano, the “jewel” of the California missions, and the Los Rios Historical District, the oldest neighborhood in California. This area is full of charm, interesting history, and great food. If you’d like to add to the adventure, you can even take the train. A perfect Peachy Day!


Time for Brunch!
The Ramos House 

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Start your day off at The Ramos House. It is one of the most raved about brunch spots in Orange County, and it definitely lives up to the hype. Tucked away in the shady garden of a historic home, Ramos House serves up seasonal, contemporary American dishes. Try the crab hash. You won’t regret it.


The Ramos House is very popular and doesn’t take reservations for parties of less than 10. Prepare yourself for a wait.

And while you wait, check out…

Los Rios Park


Explore the Butterfly Gardens surrounding the Montanez Adobe and learn about the history of the Los Rios district through the photo timeline exhibited on the park wall. If you’re here on a Thursday morning, you might see volunteers from Goin Native working the gardens. Feel free to jump in and help!


Stroll around the peaceful Los Rios Historical District, home to charming shops and cafes and adobes dating from the late 1700s. Including the Rios Adobe, which has been occupied by the same family for 10 generations

Make sure to peek in at…

Las Catrinas

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Las Catrinas

A great little souvenir shop with colorful knick-knacks, artsy gifts, and a cat in space tank top that you didn’t even know you need.


The Cottage Gallery

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Cottage Gallery

A pleasant little gallery set in an old home with friendly service (and free cookies!). Pieces are reasonably priced and of varied styles, some depicting local scenes. Don’t miss the colorful garden in the back.


Mission San Juan Capistrano

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Spend the afternoon enjoying the beauty of the mission while discovering early California history. Famous for the swallows that return to nest here each spring, the mission is mostly well preserved, while the ruins of the  great chapel remind you that the site is, indeed, hundreds of years old. A very good audio tour is included in the price of admission (Adults $9/ Children $6), but a docent-led tour is even better ($3 extra).  There are many things to see and some very interesting exhibits, but make sure to save some time to relax on a bench to soak in the atmosphere and daydream about life in the late 1700s.



With the remainder of the day, you can explore the shops and restaurants in downtown San Juan Capistrano. They have everything from kitschy souvenir shops to gourmet olive oil tasting.
If you stay for dinner, you can try L’Hirondelle Restaurant (See Yelp Reviews) which serves French favorites with quaint surroundings inside and on the lovely patio.

Or head to Dana Point or San Clemente to enjoy dinner and the sunset.

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