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About Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano, located in San Juan Capistrano, is a historic landmark and museum that offers visitors a glimpse into California's early history. Known as the "Jewel of the Missions," it is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved of the 21 California missions, with stunning architecture, gardens, and a rich cultural heritage.

Historical Overview

  • Foundation: Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded on November 1, 1776, by Spanish Franciscan friar Junípero Serra. It was the seventh mission established in California as part of the Spanish colonization effort.
  • Decline and Restoration: After secularization in the 1830s, the mission fell into disrepair. Restoration efforts began in the early 20th century, and today it stands as a testament to California’s colonial history and cultural heritage.

Key Features and Exhibits

  • Great Stone Church: The ruins of this grand church, destroyed by an earthquake in 1812, are a poignant reminder of the mission's historical significance. It was once the largest building in California and remains a central feature of the site.
  • Serra Chapel: The only remaining chapel where Saint Junípero Serra is known to have celebrated mass, Serra Chapel is the oldest building in California still in use. It features beautiful baroque architecture and religious artifacts.
  • Mission Gardens: The lush gardens of Mission San Juan Capistrano are home to a variety of plants, including native Californian and Spanish-introduced species. The gardens provide a serene environment for reflection and exploration.
  • Historic Adobe Buildings: Many of the mission’s original adobe structures have been preserved and restored. These buildings offer insights into the daily lives of the mission’s inhabitants, including living quarters, kitchens, and workshops.
  • Swallows of Capistrano: The mission is famous for the annual return of the swallows, a migratory bird species that nests in the area each spring. This natural phenomenon has become a celebrated tradition at the mission.
  • Interactive Exhibits: The mission museum features interactive exhibits that explore the history, archaeology, and cultural impact of the mission. Artifacts, multimedia displays, and hands-on activities engage visitors in learning about the mission era.

Visiting Tips for Families

  • Plan Ahead: Check Mission San Juan Capistrano’s website for current exhibits, special events, and educational programs to make the most of your visit. Check operating times to ensure the mission is open during your planned visit.
  • Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for walking and exploring the outdoor areas of the mission. Bring hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen, as much of the site is outdoors.
  • Bring Essentials: Pack water, snacks, and any necessary items for young children. The mission also has a café and picnic areas for visitors.
  • Engage with Staff: Utilize the knowledgeable staff and volunteers who can provide insights and answer questions about the history and exhibits of the mission.
  • Participate in Activities: Encourage children to participate in the interactive exhibits and family programs to enhance their learning experience and enjoyment of the mission.


By visiting Mission San Juan Capistrano, families can immerse themselves in the rich history and cultural heritage of California’s mission era. The mission provides a dynamic and educational environment that inspires curiosity, reflection, and a deeper understanding of the state’s colonial past. Whether exploring the beautiful gardens, learning about the mission's historical significance, or participating in interactive programs, Mission San Juan Capistrano offers an enriching experience for visitors of all ages.


Educator Package: Includes educational resources, interactive project ideas, trip organization, direct experiential opportunities to help better connect the experience with your students and complimentary chaperone ticket. Does not include student ticket.


Student Package: Includes engaging pre and post educational visit activities, trip organization and student ticket.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

PriceFrom $25.00
  • Please use the information on this page (package type, venue name, price, etc.) to submit an order request with your school. Once your order is approved, your school will forward the request to us. We will then reach out to you with instructions on how to finalize your trip details and access accompanying resources. Once finalized, you will receive your e-tickets and any additional materials directly to your inbox within 1-3 business days. If you don't see our email(s), please check your spam folder prior to contacting us.


    To ensure a smooth process, it is generally recommended to submit your order with your school AT LEAST 10 business days prior to your trip date, unless you are booking a venue that requires more advanced planning. *Please be mindful of your school's processing times and plan accordingly.

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