Your Guide to San Juan Capistrano
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Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano remains one of the most prominent cultural landmarks in California. This mission is the birthplace of Orange County. Faith was the main reason why Mission was founded back on November 1, 1776. Saint Serra established it as the 7th of 9th missions.

Today, it remains as a distinct reminder of the past with the timeless memories it holds. As it became one of 21 CA missions, it contains significant points in CA history. It embraces its diverse history, acknowledging its Native American, Mexican, Spanish, and European heritage. This landmark welcomes over 300,000 visitors per year.

Mission San Juan Capistrano Church

Like the other missions in CA, Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded to spread the Catholic faith. Over the last two centuries, this Mission continues to serve the Catholic community and welcomes visitors of all faith traditions.

Serra Chapel, where the Mission’s heart is located, celebrates the Eucharist daily. Saint Serra celebrated Mass here. Today, it’s the only chapel still standing where he used to celebrate Mass. Millions of visitors come to attend the mass here, making it a shared historical and religious relevance across generations.

Mission San Juan Capistrano Events

Mission San Juan Capistrano welcomes visitors to its annual series of signature events. These events celebrate the religious and historical significance of the Mission. They’re also designed to offer a unique experience of inspiration to all visitors. The following are the signature events you can look out for:

  • St. Joseph’s Day & Return of the Swallows Celebration
  • Battle of the Mariachis Festival
  • Music Under the Stars Summer Concert Series
  • Romance of the Mission Benefit Gala
  • Christmas at the Mission

The list above is also there to help raise funds to support the preservation of this landmark. Aside from those events, you can also expect special events each year. These events are there to support community partners in San Juan Capistrano and the rest of Orange County. Visit our pages to keep posted on Mission San Juan Capistrano events regularly.

Things to do in Mission San Juan Capistrano

Explore one of CA’shistoric jewels the right way. Don’t miss out anything by crossing everything on the following list:

  • Check out unique artifacts, treasures, and paintings.
  • Visit the iconic bell wall. Catch the tradition of bell ringing daily. It’s an honor to the legacy of Saint Junipero Serra who founded the Mission in 1776.
  • Check out the two original bells that once hung in the Great Stone Church. They were completed in 1806 and destroyed in an earthquake in 1812.
  • Visit permanent exhibits like the ‘Mission Treasures: Historical Collection Revealed.’ This exhibit features historical artifacts and rare paintings. You can also find religious artifacts and other things related to the Mission’s history.
  • Join hands-on activities in the Mission Clubhouse. Experience weaving a basket like the Native Americans and other activities.
  • Tour all around the Mission with Docent guide.

Mission San Juan Capistrano Exhibits

Historical and religious artifacts and 18th-20th-century paintings are housed in Mission San Juan Capistrano. Visitors can also enjoy an interpretive room that’s dedicated to Native American art.

In the South Wing Padres Quarters of the Mission, there goes a permanent collection of artifacts. They belonged to the Padres who lived in the Mission in the 18th century. The artifacts highlight the historical importance of the mission system. They also introduce the role of the Padres in the establishment of what’s known now as CA.

This exhibit supports many lessons outlines in the fourth-grade curriculum in CA. Students can enjoy visuals like paintings, photographs, artifacts, and other mediums. These pieces also help illustrate the vibrant and dynamic history of the mission.

Learners can also get to know the history with the various series of religious artifacts. There goes the chalices, vestments, tabernacles and many more. Below are the distinct exhibits you can visit here:

Legacy of Saint Serra

Open Daily: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Sala

This exhibit displays a statue of Father Serra. It was made by Juan de Avalos (1986). Visitors can also find 18th-century Spanish painting of Our Lady of Refuge, the Patroness of both CAs and many more.

Mission Treasures: Historical Collection Revealed

Open Daily: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: West Wing

All items subject to replacement and rotation.

This collection includes religious artifacts, documents, and paintings related to the history of Mission. These pieces date back to 1700s.

Nest Reenactment Exhibit

Open Daily: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Limited Time Exhibit)

Location: On the east side of the Ruins of the Great Stone Church

The celebration of the return of the swallows started on St. Joseph’s day, March 19 in the early 1930s. Today, visitors from across the globe can also be part of this relevant part of San Juan Capistrano’s history.

Native American Exhibit and Interpretive Room

Open Daily: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: West Wing

Long before the Spanish built Mission San Juan Capistrano, Acjachemen people lived in the land of Orange County. Today, visitors can take a peak of this thriving culture through authentic artifacts, interactive station, and music,

Plein-Air Art Reproductions from the Collection of the Irvine Museum

Open Daily: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Soldiers Barracks

Visitors can find paintings here that are reproductions of original paintings in the collection of The Irvine Museum. The said museum generously loaned these pieces to Mission San Juan Capistrano. It’s part of their support and partnership to share the artistic style of the “Plein Air” painting tradition.

South Wing of the Mission

Open Daily: 9:00 am- 5:00 pm

Location: South Wing

Students and sightseers of all ages can find this exhibit meaningful. It addresses various topics related to the fourth-grade curriculum learning standard. Every visitor can learn about the purpose of the mission system and the roles of the Padres. They can also learn about Mission agriculture and architecture.

Mission San Juan Capistrano Tour Options

Be part of Mission San Juan Capistrano’s history and religious journey. Choose from the following tour options you can avail:

  • Audio Tours
  • Guided Tours
  • 4th Grader Tours
  • Garden Tours
  • Serra Chapel
  • Swallows
  • Student Field Trips
  • Groups
  • Art Walks
  • Historic Downtown San Juan Capistrano

Explore CA’s finest preserved historical landmark. Get to know the very mission that sparked the state’s continuous growth as we know it today. Visit Mission San Juan Capistrano.

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