Let me tell you - this is one upscale mission. It’s well-groomed and well-funded (not unlike the surrounding Orange County residents). The church is gorgeous and glittery. The lovely grounds are criss-crossed by rustic paths lined with roses, marigolds and lavender. There’s also an impressive fountain, a koi pond and some very striking cactus.
However, I found the mission’s most impressive feature to be the ruins of the original church, destroyed by an earthquake in 1812. Wow! World-class ruins in Orange County. Who knew? Prior to visiting, my idea of So Cal ruins was more along the lines of an empty Tower Records store.
So, is Mission San Juan Capistrano worth checking out? Yes. I suggest hitting it on a weekday and arriving early. That way, you can stroll in peace and get your “Old California” hit (albeit a pristine one) before the crowd arrives.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675