This Tiny Town Is Full of History and Places to Eat, Play and Stay

Stationed just off the coast near Dana Point lies the historic town of San Juan Capistrano. This quaint community offers locals and visitors something other than surf and sand. Spatterings of Spanish architecture and a charming medley of locally owned restaurants, breweries, cafes and shops make San Juan the ideal day trip destination. Here’s the only itinerary you’ll need to explore the nooks of this hidden enclave. Explore San Juan Capistrano

 

1 | Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano

Pack your bags and check-in to the stunning, all-new boutique hotel in the heart of downtown! A part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano effortlessly aligns with the town’s history, balancing old-world elements with modern-day amenities. Hacienda-style rooms, mission-inspired furnishings, colorful Spanish tiling and a signature restaurant make this hotel a must-stay. Take in views of the neighboring Great Stone Church and enjoy a cocktail under the lantern-lit olive trees before heading into town.

Local Insight: Near the elevators, you’ll notice a cluster of hanging pendant lights that are carefully designed to look like the Mission’s bells.

@innatthemissionsjc

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2 | Hidden House Coffee Explore San Juan Capistrano

Tucked behind the California Amtrak station in the Historic District of San Juan, Hidden House Coffee is a neighborhood nook that’s served up fresh beans and baked goods for over a decade. This little yellow house is a cozy, serene spot for a cup of joe and good conversation. Hint: order a fresh-baked cinnamon roll!

@hiddenhousecoffee

 

3 | Mission San Juan Capistrano Explore San Juan Capistrano

This historic landmark and museum was founded over 200 years ago, is the seventh of 21 missions and is the birthplace of Orange County. Set on 10 acres, Mission San Juan Capistrano is home to lush gardens, ruins of the Great Stone Church and the Serra Chapel—the oldest church in California! Take a tour and discover religious artifacts along with one-of-a-kind treasures and paintings.

@missionsanjuancapistrano

 

4 | Mayfield Restaurant & Market

Not everything in San Juan is old—in fact, the town is home to an assortment of trendy, modern eateries that’ll make your Insta feed look fuego. Mayfield is one of our favorites! This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant is outfitted with marble countertops, pink leather booths and mid-mod furniture, making it the ultimate spot for a sit-down lunch. Snack on tasty plates like baba ganoush, burrata salad and crispy smashed Yukon potatoes. 

Local Insight: Mayfield has a market stocked with natural wines, homeware, kitchenware and other goodies you’ll love!

@mayfield.oc

 

5 | The Ramos House Café Explore San Juan Capistrano

This adorable cafe on Los Rios Street is an iconic San Juan spot for brunch and lunch. Take a seat on the shaded patio surrounded by potted plants and climbing vines. Indulge in a Ramos House Famous Soju Bloody Mary for $15 (add a Scotch egg for $5!) and dig into southern-style favorites like buttermilk biscuits, cinnamon apple beignets and huckleberry coffee cake. If you prefer savory over sweet, opt for the huevos rancheros or the flannel hash.

@ramoshousecafe

 

6 | Heritage Barbecue Explore San Juan Capistrano

There’s nothing quite like authentic Texas barbecue! Smoky beef ribs, brisket-stuffed sandwiches and baked beans are the ultimate comfort foods of our great nation. If you consider yourself a carnivore, Heritage Barbecue is the place to be. This farm-to-table restaurant in San Juan’s historic downtown district serves up handcrafted smoked meats and decadent sides in a casual “picnic table” setting. Oh yeah—at Heritage, calories don’t count.

@heritagebarbecue

 

7 | Zoomars at River Street Ranch

Located just across the train tracks lies Zoomars, a family-friendly farm with a petting zoo, train rides, mining station, playground and more. This is a great daytime spot for families looking to entertain their kiddos. Watch as your little ones hold and pet guinea pigs and feed animals like goats, sheep, rabbits and pigs!

@zoomars

 

8 | Rancho Capistrano Winery Explore San Juan Capistrano

When it comes to fun for the grown-ups, Rancho Capistrano Winery is the perfect spot for a post-petting zoo glass of white, red or rosé. Snag a seat on the winery’s 300-square-foot patio and choose from over 40 award-winning wines to sip on. Pair your glass with a tasty appetizer like the fig bruschetta, fried Brussels sprouts or mushroom truffle flatbread.

Local Insight: Rancho Capistrano Winery is Orange County’s largest winery!

@ranchocapistranowinery

9 | Bueno Bueno Mexican Kitchen

Looking for a fast-casual spot to feast? Bueno Bueno is a tasty spot for a quick bite and features a menu chock-full of organic Mexican cuisine with a modern twist. Notable dishes include the Enchiladas de Mole Negro, el calamar (calamari) tacos and Elote e Esquite. The restaurant also offers a variety of beers, mescal-based cocktails and crafty horchatas. Take notice of the tortilla-making station and tequila sipping bar.

@buenokitchen

 

10 | The Tea House on Los Rios

If happy hour isn’t your thing, enjoy an afternoon cup of tea at The Tea House on Los Rios. This homey spot not only offers a variety of loose-leaf teas, but it also serves a delicious weekend brunch with morning plates like the salmon Benedict, hash brown quiche and Farmhouse Scramble. Pinkies up!

@theteahouseonlosrios

 

11 | The Ecology Center Explore San Juan Capistrano

In the heart of San Juan lies a 28-acre regenerative organic farm—one of the only ones left in the county. The Ecology Center is a “living system, classroom and laboratory for tomorrow’s leaders.” The on-site farmstand sells a variety of fresh, seasonal produce like fruits, flowers, herbs and veggies. Take a stroll around the gorgeous grounds of the center and learn more about sustainable living as well as how to create a healthier future.

@theecologycenter

 

12 | Docent Brewing Explore San Juan Capistrano

SJC’s first brewery, Docent, is a well-established place for a pint. Sip on a variety of brews, ranging from ales and IPAs to pilsners and imperial stouts. And while what’s on tap is typically the draw, their menu of eats is a real treat. Try the Cubano sandwich, spicy vegan tostadas or the house favorite, fermented veggies.

@docentbrewing

 

13 | Trevor’s At The Tracks

When it comes to al fresco dining, there isn’t much that compares to this happenin’ hotspot. Located just steps from the train tracks, Trevor’s offers diners a taste of California cuisine

In a historical, open-air setting. The restaurant was refurbished in 1995, but the Mission revival architecture and majestic dome remain prominent features in its design. The heated patio features a central, wraparound bar with string lights—a setting that’ll make you want to stay awhile. Order one of their “garden-to-glass” cocktails while feasting on a selection of tasty small plates.

@trevorsatthetracks

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