Welcome to San Juan Capistrano
Well-preserved history and culture in a quiet, seaside community
As the birthplace of Orange County, San Juan Capistrano is steeped in history and culture. It was founded in 1776, the same year the United States declared independence from Great Britain. Nestled inland just south of Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano is a quiet seaside town known for old-world Spanish-inspired architecture, numerous historical landmarks, and an active equestrian community.
The historic downtown San Juan Capistrano district is lined with restaurants and shops, some in historic structures renovated into commercial spaces. Other historic sites have been well-preserved, including Mission San Juan Capistrano, completed in 1806. Many of the surrounding housing is inspired by the traditional Spanish and Mission architecture that has become a signature style here. You'll find everything from modern townhouses and charming hilltop homes to grand seaside villas and ranch estates with horse stables and equestrian trails.
What to Love
- Historic district with well-preserved sites
- Classic home architecture and large, ranch-style estates
- Quiet beachside community with charming neighborhoods
- An active equestrian community
- Walkable downtown with plenty of shops and eateries
San Juan Capistrano is a quiet, tight-knit community. It's an idyllic seaside town with a historic, old-world appeal. The historical district attracts tourists throughout the year. And even though it's not far from major cities, it retains a small-town atmosphere. Ranch-style homes and an equestrian community make it feel like a world away.
San Juan Capistrano Real Estate Insights
Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
The culinary scene in San Juan Capistrano is surprisingly diverse and offers an array of high-end dining options. Located downtown, Mayfield is a restaurant and marketplace. The food is California cuisine inspired by the flavors of the Levant region of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and North Africa.
Right across Mission San Juan Capistrano, Cedar Creek Inn serves American favorites like prime rib, meatloaf, and pot roast. The Crafstman-style setting is warm and woodsy and offers views of the surrounding historical sites.
A local favorite, Heritage Barbecue serves authentic Texas-style barbeque and hearty southern sides. They're famed for delicious brisket, pulled pork, and jalapeno cheddar cornbread. Right down the street, Ciao Pasta Trattoria serves classic Southern Italian dishes in a sleek setting with an outdoor patio.
Set in a historic space dated back to 1797 and designated a California State Historical Landmark, El Adobe de Capistrano serves authentic Mexican cuisine. The elegant setting includes a wine cellar and spacious patio, perfect for private events and weddings.
Another historic landmark, Trevor's at the Tracks, is set in an 1894 railway depot. They pride themselves on working with local vendors and producers to serve elevated global fare, including chimichurri steak fries, Greek leek dip, and ahi poke nachos.
Things to Do
Known as the "Jewel of the Missions," Mission San Juan Capistrano draws over 300,000 tourists a year. Built in 1806, it features a ten-acre garden, museum rooms, and the ruins of the wine vat. It hosts several events, including the Battle of the Mariachis and Capistrano Lights.
The annual Swallows Day Parade and Mercado Street Fair occur throughout downtown San Juan Capistrano. It's a world-renowned tradition to commemorate the legend of a flock of swallows who took refuge at the Mission when their nests were destroyed.
Opposite Mission San Juan Capistrano, the Inn at the Mission features an onsite spa, bar, and restaurant. It's within walking distance of all the amenities downtown and offers views of the Santa Ana Mountains.
The oldest neighborhood in California, Los Rios, features three original adobe homes that housed mission ranch workers at the turn of the 19th century. Many of the remaining 40 homes that were built afterward housed early European immigrants.
For a fun day out, Zoomars at River Street Ranch has a petting zoo, train rides, and other amusements great for families. Another popular event is the horse jumping competitions, which are held numerous times a year at different venues.