About

Mission San Juan Capistrano, historic landmark and museum, is the Birthplace of Orange County. It was founded more than two hundred years ago as the 7th of 21 missions statewide and features a chapel still standing where Saint Serra once celebrated Mass.

Today, it is a monument to California’s multi-cultural history, embracing its Native American, Spanish, Mexican and European heritage. Originally built as a self sufficient community by Spanish Padres and Native Americans, the Mission was a center for agriculture, industry, education and religion.

Famous for the Annual Return of the Swallows, Mission San Juan Capistrano is the “Jewel of the California Missions” and welcomes over 300,000 visitors each year.

  • Hosts one-of-a-kind artifacts, treasures and paintings; considered the American Acropolis, ruins of the Great Stone Church.
  • Visit the iconic bell wall and catch the tradition of bell ringing daily, honoring the legacy of Friar Junipero Serra who founded the Mission in 1776.
  • Don’t miss the two original bells that once hung in the Great Stone Church which was completed in 1806 and destroyed in an earthquake in 1812.
  • Enjoy permanent exhibits such as “Mission Treasures: Historical Collection Revealed” featuring historical artifacts, precious and rare paintings, religious artifacts and more related to the Mission’s history.
  • Participate in hands-on activities in the Mission Clubhouse; weave a basket like the Native Americans.
  • Visit the newly conserved Serra Chapel, the only standing church where Father Serra is known to have said Mass.  Revel in the 400 year old golden retablo, historic paintings and wall decor.
  • See a snapshot of California’s history by touring our exhibits and museum rooms with a Docent guide.
  • Relax in peaceful and stunning gardens.
  • Attend our family-friendly cultural festivals.
  • Dine and dance under the stars at our summer concerts.
  • Visit the Mission Store, a local landmark shopping experience open daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.