After my morning in Laguna Beach, I head inland to the historic town of San Juan Capistrano to check out the mission and Los Rios Street. It’s a nice little town with a Spanish colonial feel to it. And just in case you weren’t sure, the mission itself proclaims that it’s “Worth a Visit”.

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Admission costs $9 and includes a free audio guide and a map to explain all the different parts of the mission. I buy my ticket and make my way inside. My first impression is – so many flowers!

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Jasmine makes the entire area smell sweet.

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My second impression is – too many kids! I’m here on a Thursday afternoon and it’s crowded with school field trips. Fortunately for me, they’re all getting ready to leave and I have the place to myself shortly.

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After photography and smelling every flower I can find, I make my way over to the oldest part of the mission, the church. The mission was founded in 1776 by the Spanish, when California was part of their Mexican territory. It took 30 years to build, but by then, the mission started to decline. Then in 1812 only a few years after completion, an earthquake caused the ceiling to collapse. It was never rebuilt, and this is what remains today.

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In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, then in 1848, the US won the region in the Mexican American War and in 1850, California became a state. With that, the preservation of the area’s missions, including this one in San Juan Capistrano, began. Today it’s a popular tourist destination, and a great place for engagement photos.

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After exploring the church, I wander around the rest of the mission, admiring all the colors. This place is so beautiful and clearly well kept.

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In case you couldn’t tell, I love flowers. I love working in my garden at home, and I love photographing them on my travels. And I just can’t get enough of them here. Not to be a total weirdo, but I sat on the ground photographing these poppy’s for a good 10 minutes.

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While the orange dome below looks like it’s in the mission, it’s actually part of the church right behind, which I’ll visit later.

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Back in the day, the mission had to provide much of it’s own food and the vegetable garden behind the kitchen still grows today.

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As I mentioned above, after exploring the mission, I walk around the corner to the Mission Basilica Pastoral Center – the church with the orange dome. I wouldn’t say this is a must see, however if you have the time, it’s a pretty church.

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The elaborate altar seems in stark contrast to the more simple decorations on the walls.

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By this time, I really need to get on the road back to Irvine to check into my Airbnb, but I can’t resist one quick stop at the historic Los Rios Street. It’s a charming and quiet place for a little walk. There are shops and a few restaurants here if you have more time, which I unfortunately don’t.

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The Amtrak train runs through here once an hour or so, making it a great way to get here if you live in L.A. or don’t want to rent a car like I did.

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And now it’s really time for me to get going. I’ve enjoyed this area of SoCal much more than I expected and would definitely recommend it if you find yourself in L.A. or Orange County!

Newport Beach and Balboa Island
Welcome to the O.C. - Laguna Beach

One thought on “San Juan Capistrano

  1. Great pics! I really enjoyed this place. I visited for the first time earlier this year — can’t believe I was in LA almost a decade before checking it out! So many great photo ops.

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