Thursday, April 22, 2010

welcome to san juan capistrano!

Welcome to my world BlogTrotters. What is a BlogTrotter? Click on this button and you learn all about it. I am sharing my post with them today.

If you are anything like me then you like learning about the world around you. Reading, researching, and planning where I want to go next, to me, is almost as good as actually going there and when I first came across BlogTrotting I thought, "What a great idea!"

Well, now it is my turn. All aboard! Next stop, San Juan Capistrano, CA

I am an Orange County native having spent most of my childhood in the neighboring beach town San Clemente. My husband and I settled in San Juan Capistrano (SJC) about 11 years ago and we love it.

Our town has roughly 35,000 people. Orange County has a little over 3 million.
SJC has a unique and old history that includes Native American Indians, Spanish, Rancheros, European settlers, outlaws, and pirates. Yes, you heard me right, pirates. They raided the mission after landing their ship in Dana Point.

If you visit San Juan Capistrano you should visit our Historic Downtown, which includes the Los Rios Historic District which is the oldest neighborhood in California. It is a combination of quaint restaurants in old houses, some of them adobe dating back to the 1700's and residential houses. The Los Rios District has a small, but really nice, petting zoo, park, nursery, Tea House, and several great cafes. Dividing Los Rios with the rest of downtown is the old train depot, which also houses several restaurants, and was built in 1894. Buildings made of wood, adobe, and old brick give San Juan Capistrano an old Spanish-Western feel.

The downtown district is small and easy to walk around. In fact, get on the Pacific Surfliner train and head on down for the day. Have lunch!

Other highlights include a year round farmers market, a community theatre with a yearly old-west style melodrama, many patio cafes and the town highlight... Mission San Juan Capistrano the "Jewel of the Missions". The mission was founded by Padre Junipero Serra on November 1, 1776 and is seventh in the chain of 21 missions across the state. Multiple events take place at the mission yearly, including, but not limited to:
  • Battle of the Mariachis Bands
  • Music under the stars

  • Christmas at the Mission

  • Return of the Swallows to San Juan Capistrano (this is a two-month event and our biggest of the year.) There is also a famous song about this yearly event.

Unique tidbits:

  • The El Adobe Restaurant is comprised of two separate adobes, the Yorba adobes from the early 1800's. The stagecoach used to stop in between the two adobes, which is now the lobby of the restaurant. One adobe was used as a residence and the other as an early courthouse and jail or juzgado. Here is the "neat" part. The old jail cell is still underneath the restaurant. It now serves as the wine cellar, but it still has the original jail cell door and the walls. Next time you eat there ask the waiter or waitress to take you down there. The kids will get a kick out of it!

  • Michael Graves designed our library and architecture buffs come from all over to visit it. It is nice! (Pictures at the link below)

  • San Juan Capistrano historical society gives a spooky tour, at night on Los Rios, near Halloween. Many ghosts story and creepy tales of the area are told.

  • San Juan is considered the Equestrian Capital of the West Coast. There are many stables and equestrian estates in town and all the trails are open to horses. It is not uncommon to see horses downtown or anywhere for that manner. The Olympic trials for Dressage were held in SJC in 2008.

  • San Juan Capistrano residents voted, in the 1970s, to keep much of our space "open". Much of this open space has been turned into a trail system that is now extensive. The trails are open to hikers, bikers, and horses.

Click here to read some of my other posts that are tagged in SJC.

What? You need more information? Well there is a ton of it out there. Visit these links and have fun:

San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Los Rios Street


Miss Welcome said...

This place looks absolutely lovely. I had never heard of it. Now I have to google the swallows and see pictures of their return!

mub said...

Wow! This looks like such a gorgeous place to live... and how can you complain about a place that has pirates and outlaws in it's history ;)

Heather said...

Absolutely beautiful!

How blessed you are to live in such an awesome place!

Great tour!

CaraBee said...

It's amazing that such a small town got such a famous architect to design the library. Super cool!

SJC looks like exactly the kind of town that I want to live in: so much to do, but the comforts and safety of a small town.

Great tour! Thanks for being a part of BlogTrotting!!

mep said...

A lifetime (6 years?) ago before hubby and I had kids, we went to Orange County for a wedding and stayed for a week. We loved, loved, loved our tour of the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Missed the swallows when we were there, but we'll have to visit another time!

A couple of years later, we returned to Orange County for another wedding and the rehearsal dinner was at El Adobe.

What a beautiful place to live. Thanks for the great tour!

Shelley said...

Congratulations on being featured today. Your town is beautiful. What a rich history it has. Thanks for sharing with us.

Carrie said...

What a beautiful place to live :) Thanks for sharing!

Visiting from Blogtrotting

Traci said...

Thanks everyone for the kind comments! It was fun to share.

brainella said...

How gorgeous...and so not Atlanta! :) Seriously jealous. I love the history behind it all too. I'm putting that on my list of places to see!

Sharlene said...

Visiting from Blogtrotting! I love SJC. I live just up the road in Lake Forest and we often come down to San Juan to visit Los Rios and the downtown area. Nice to find another OC blogger!

Dianna@KennedyAdventures said...

how beautiful! I told my husband this was on my list of places we could move to in California!

YogaSavy said...

I have never visited this place but after going through your post i think i will.