Day Trippin’ in San Juan Capistrano

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When you’re itching for a getaway, but can’t really get away, try a day trip! While there are plenty of amazing spots within an hour of San Diego, San Juan Capistrano has old town charm and modern-day kid-friendly amenities. While you can drive the 45 minutes or so north, consider hopping on the train. For around $15 per person each way, you can sit back and enjoy the scenery and avoid traffic. You’ll arrive refreshed and raring to go. Check out a few great ways to day trip in this adobe-rable town.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO 1Photo Credit: Christina Q. Cross

Tea Time
When you get to San Juan Capistrano, walk over to the very quaint The Tea House on Los Rios to enjoy a tea party for lunch. You and your little one can try on hats (“fascinators” to the Brits), sip tea (or lemonade) in proper teacups and munch on traditional cucumber sandwiches, fruit and scones. The Tea House also offers a full menu including salads and sandwiches, and has a made-for-kids option called the Treehouse Tea, which includes peanut butter and jam or grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit, a scone with Early California cream and jam, and a pot of tea, juice or a soft drink.

TeaHouseonLosRiosEntrancePhoto Credit: The Tea House on Los Rios Facebook page

You may even find yourself dreaming of Downton as you sit among vine-covered trees attended to by the sweetest serving staff. Don’t forget to raise your pinky! After all that proper-ness, you can do a little window shopping along the ever-charming Los Rios Historic District, check out the O’Neill Museum, stop to flit about at the Butterfly Sanctuary in front of the Montanez Adobe the or even get some wiggles out old west-style in the park.

Hours: Wed. – Fri., 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sat. & Sun., 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

31731 Los Rios Street
San Juan Capistrano, Ca 92675


Photo Credit: A. Stabile

Zoomars Petting Zoo
For the next adventure on this itinerary, head on down to Zoomars Petting Zoo, a USDA-licensed facility that complies with government regulations for the care, health and well-being of its animals. A quick stroll on the zoo grounds and you’ll discover that Zoomars is much larger than a typical petting zoo.  It’s a two-acre property with over 100 animals to pet, feed and observe in spacious, and very clean, animal pens. From pony rides to fresh carrots to feed animals like goats, rabbits, chickens and pigs, this little piece of the old west is a sweet little spot. Kiddos can also mine for gold and play in a corn pit.

Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: $10/adults; $8/kiddos

31791 Los Rios St.
San Juan Capistrano, Ca 92675

san juan capistrano missionPhoto credit: Mission San Juan Capistrano Facebook page

Time for a History Lesson
Save an hour to explore what San Juan Capistrano is most famous for, the Mission of San Juan Capistrano (Junipero Serra Mission). The Mission was founded by Padre Junipero Serra on November 1, 1776. It was the seventh of twenty-one Spanish Missions established in California by the Franciscan Padres, and the mission grounds are breathtaking.  View early adobe barracks, Friars’ quarters, beautiful gardens and the original Stone Church.  Audio tours are free with admission for adults and children (ages 4 to 11). While the 45-minute kid’s audio tour was developed for 4th graders, younger tourists may loose interest quickly in the recording.

26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, Ca 92675

What is your favorite thing to do in San Juan Capistrano?  Let us know in the comments section below.

— Allison Stabile