San Juan Capistrano Journals

Old San Juan Capistrano: more than a mission town

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An April 2001 trip to San Juan Capistrano by C. A. Fliedner

El Adobe De Capistrano Restaurant Photo, San Juan Capistrano, California More Photos
Quote: When most people hear the name San Juan Capistrano, they think of the mission built in 1776 by Junipero Serra. But the charming town that built up around the mission grounds is like taking a journey into California's Spanish past.

Old San Juan Capistrano: more than a mission town

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Overview

An authentic jail cell Photo, San Juan Capistrano, California
Quote:
San Juan Capistrano’s famous historic mission dominates the town. A stroll through the shady grounds is a must. You can spend as little or as much there as you wish – there’s plenty to see and a nice gift shop on the premises. But do save time to go through the town’s historic district on Los Rios Street. The entire area is a Registered National Historic District, and several adobe homes date back 200 years. Be sure to stop by the O’Neill Museum, located in a Victorian era house --they have walking tours of the local landmarks on Sundays. There are so many quaint restaurants, including a charming tea house, that it’s hard to choose where to eat. We especially enjoyed walking through the gift s...Read More

El Adobe De Capistrano Restaurant

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Restaurant | "El Adobe de Capistrano"

El Adobe De Capistrano Restaurant Photo, San Juan Capistrano, California
Quote:
The Ed Adobe is famous in its own rite as President Richard Nixon's favorite restaurant. He and his wife, Pat, ate there often and used the restaurant to cater affairs at the San Clemente White House. The restaurant has wonderful food, especially the Sunday brunch, and is situated in an adobe bult in 1797. It has been used as a restaurant since 1948. There's a wonderful wedding chapel and patio area, often used by private parties. Live mariachi music provides the final touch to an oustanding meal.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 28, 2001

El Adobe De Capistrano Restaurant
31891 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, California 92675
(949) 493-1163

Ramos House Cafe

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Restaurant | "The Ramos House Cafe"

Ramos House Cafe Photo, San Juan Capistrano, California
Quote:
Strolling down Los Rios Street, we could smell the wonderful aromas drifing from the kitchen of the Ramos House Cafe. The dining room is outdoors, and the old historical house is where the food preparation is done. We sampled cinnamon applie beignets, blackberry pain perdu with shwwet cheese and toasted almonds, and a roasted garlic, wild mushroom and sundried tomato egg scramble. Everything was outstanding. If only we'd had room for the warm apple strudel with home made cream cheese ice cream!! Next time! The Ramos House is very popular, so prepare yourself for a short wait. But it's well worth the effort.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 28, 2001

Ramos House Cafe
31752 Los Rios Street
San Juan Capistrano, California 92675
(949) 443-1342

San Juan Depot Bar and Grill

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Restaurant

San Juan Depot Bar and Grill Photo, San Juan Capistrano, California
Quote:
Okay, by now you're thinking that all we did was eat our way through San Juan Capistrano, and you're not too far off base! But we simply had to try the San Juan Depot. From the center of town, you'll see several old train cars which have been converted into this fun restaurant. They serve very traditional American meals, like charbroiled rib eye, or country chicken fried steaks, homemade soups, salad bar, etc. The owners are usually on site and are very cordial to their guests. They have a full entertainment schedule -- from live jazz music to Country Dancing and spaghetti western dinner nights. A very down-home feel permeates the San Juan Depot Bar and Grill. We got the feeling this is where ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 28, 2001

San Juan Depot Bar and Grill
26701 Verdugo St
San Juan Capistrano, California 92675
(949) 496-7225

The O'Neil Museum

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Attraction

The O'Neil Museum Photo, San Juan Capistrano, California
Quote:
The museum is located in a restored house, originally built in the 1870s. There are displays of historic interest for those who enjoy Early California history, including the Native Americans who inhabited the area. This is where the local historical society makes its headquarters. There are history books in their library, as well as books for sale in the gift shop area.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 29, 2001

The O'Neil Museum
Los Rios Street
San Juan Capistrano, California

Fiesta de las Golondrinas

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Attraction

Quote:
For the past 43 years, San Juan Capistrano has held a three-month long fiesta celebrating its heritage. The culmination of the festivities is the return of the famous swallows from their winter stay in Goya, Argentinia. Each year between January and March, local citizens dress in western costumes and host a variety of events, including a Taste of San Juan, a children's pet parade, a street fair, the El Presidente Ball, Hoos'gow Day, and Swallows' Day Parade, and last, but certainly not least, the Hairiest Man and Soiled Dove contests! The Swallows' Day Parade is one of the largest nonmotorized, equestrian parades in the nation. This past year, there were over 200 entries. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 5, 2001

Fiesta de las Golondrinas
San Juan Capistrano and Los Rios areas
San Juan Capistrano, California

Los Rios Street

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Story/Tip

Looking out over the agricultural fields Photo, San Juan Capistrano, California
Quote:
While you're visiting San Juan Capistrano, don't miss the small historic district on Los Rios Street. Los Rios is a narrow, shady road, which is lined with 31 historic structures, including several original adobe houses, private homes, quaint restaurants, an art gallery, and even a vine-covered tea house with a broad porch for outside dining. The gift shops--all in old houses--have names like "Forgotten By Thyme," "Treasures From the Heart," and "Master's Marketplace." Besides the shops, local artisians sell their wares to the tourists. Be sure to stop by Susan Logan's studio and take a look at her fabulous watercolor art. The talented, famous artist is best known for her beautiful, colorful ...Read More

The Mission and and its famous swallows

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Story/Tip

the chapel Photo, San Juan Capistrano, California
Quote:
Although the purpose of this article is to provide you with other options besides spending all your time at the beautiful old mission, no article about San Juan Capistrano would be complete without at least a few words about its history and how the legend of the swallows began. According to Mr. Gerald Miller, the administrator of the mission, the return of the swallows to Capistrano's mission began centuries ago. The legend of the swallows has been written about in song and stories and has become a well-known event around the world. It all began in 1769 when a group of Spanish explorers from Mexico traveled through the area now known as San Juan Capistrano. There were already large n...Read More

Camping, hiking, and horseback riding

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Not far from downtown San Juan Capistrano, up the Ortega Highway (Hwy 74)and into the surrounding hills is an 8,000 acre wilderness nature preserve. The landscape changes from scrub brush to enormous, ancient oaks and sycamore trees by the time you reach Caspers Wilderness Park. Not only are there numerous hiking trails, there are picnic areas, barbeques, and even horse corrals for those wishing to trailer in their horses for trail riding. Following the dirt road to its end, we found a steep trail with mountain bike riders zipping along at a quick pace. Because I have no inclination to ride a bike at 45 degree angles, I simply asked the more brave at heart how they like the mountain biking at Casp...Read More

About the Writer

C. A. Fliedner

C. A. Fliedner
La Palma, California