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Onsite Learning Programs

We offer a wide variety of guided tours and education programs for student groups to explore the Mission and its rich history. 

All onsite tours and education programs are subject to change due to COVID-19, but we are currently taking bookings for onsite learning to occur. Please see the list below for the onsite options available throughout the school year.

Content Standards


Guided Tours – Now Available

NEW! SMALL VIP TOUR
School field trips cancelled? This is a great option for families and households to still experience outdoor learning! Never before offered, book a private tour experience to visit Mission San Juan Capistrano with your household group! Our VIP tours allow small groups of either up to 4, or up to 8, to book a private tour experience to explore the Mission grounds. Go into the wine vat! Visit the private Sacristy of the Ruins! Touch the historic Mission bells!

Guests are led by a socially distant and experienced tour guide, with a special transmitter to ensure safe touring. This exclusive tour includes special gifts for all guests in the group, including portable hand sanitizer and drinking water for all guests. Pricing for a group of four begins at $75. Our hands-on brick making program, Mission Matters, is also available as an add-on at $5 per student.

Tour the Mission safely while knowing we take all necessary safety precautions and follow sanitation procedures as directed by the CDC, state, and local governments. These tours are available by reservation only on the days Mission San Juan Capistrano is open, as well as the days we are closed to general admission. Tour aligns with CA HSS (4.2.1, 4.2.3, 4.2.4, 4.2.5, 4.2.6). *Available all year through Summer 2021.
Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Size: Up to 4 and up to 8
Cost: $75 (up to 4) and $140 (up to 8)

SMALL GROUP AUDIO TOUR
Available in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian. It features music, history and storytelling bringing to life the “Jewel of the Missions.” Small group audio tours available for groups of up to 4 or up to 8 people at a time. Tour aligns with CA HSS (4.2.1, 4.2.3, 4.2.4, 4.2.5, 4.2.6).
Duration: Check out for 2 hours
Capacity: Up to 8
Cost: $12 per person


Guided Tours – Available Spring 2021

LARGE GROUP HISTORY AUDIO TOUR
Available in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian. It features music, history and storytelling bringing to life the “Jewel of the Missions.” Tour aligns with CA HSS (4.2.1, 4.2.3, 4.2.4, 4.2.5, 4.2.6). Not available for Fall 2020.
Duration: Check out for 2 hours
Capacity: Up to 20 people
Cost: $12 per person

GUIDED TOUR
Led by trained Mission guides (staff or volunteers), this guided tour leads guests on a journey through Mission history and highlights important features and architecture including Serra Chapel, exhibits, gardens, and the Ruins of the Great Stone Church. Tour aligns with CA HSS (4.2.1, 4.2.3, 4.2.4, 4.2.5, 4.2.6).
Duration: 1 hour
Capacity: Up to 25 people per Mission guide
Cost: $13 per person

FREE Audio Transmitter Devices are now included for all Guided Tours. In an ongoing effort to improve learning and inclusion for students and Mission guests, the Mission has purchased these devices to be used during docent and staff guided tours. Using these devices also allows tour guides at the Mission to better serve students and guests who are hearing impaired. The transmitters allow for easier group management and students in the back get a better experience. Devices are subject to availability.


Education Programs – Available Spring 2021

Experience a variety of hands-on learning activities with our educational programs! Fourth graders will learn about California’s history in a dynamic way by examining the construction of the Mission in “Making the Grade” and celebrating the First People of California in “Journeys to the Past.” Students will actively engage with history and gain a comprehensive understanding of the Mission’s role in shaping California today in “Mission Matters.” These programs meet the California History-Social Science Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards and present school curriculum in a way that will complement the lessons in the classroom.

Mission Matters: Adobe Brick Making
Join us as we explore historic life at the Mission in this hands-on program! Students use their senses to dive into the past and learn about jobs and duties that were an important part of building and maintaining the Mission. The adobe walls tell the story of the Acjachemen who did this difficult labor-intensive job, and their efforts still remain more than 200 years later. Students will each make their very own adobe brick to bring home! Presentation and activities align with CA HSS (4.2.3, 4.2.5) and NGSS (Earth Science 4-ESS2-1). VIP Tours in Fall 2020 can upgrade their experience to include adobe brick making.
Offered: Tuesday through Friday
Duration: Up to 45 minutes
Start Time: 3 classes offered per day, available until filled
Location: Picnic Area, unless raining
Capacity: 15 people min. to 140 people max.
Cost: $5 per student
*Classes are not guaranteed to be private*

Mission Matters: The First People of  Southern California and Changing Landscapes
Celebrate the First People of Southern California in this hands-on program! Students will discover how the native peoples of the region used natural resources from their local ecosystems and how these ecosystems began to change when the Spanish arrived. Students will make their own craft to take home using some local natural resources! Presentation and activities align with CA HSS (4.2.1, 4.2.6) and NGSS (Life Science 4-LS1-1).
Offered: Mondays
Duration: 1 hour
Start Time: 3 classes offered per day, available until filled
Location: Picnic Area, unless raining
Capacity: 15 people min. to 100 people max.
Cost: $5 per student
*Classes are not guaranteed to be private*

Mission Matters: Rope Making
Join us as we explore historic life at the Mission in this hands-on program! Students learn about everyday life and the different jobs that helped maintain the Mission. From raising cattle to constructing buildings, ropes are an integral part of the Mission’s history. Students will work together in teams using historic methods to create handcrafted ropes! Presentation and activities align with CA HSS (4.2.3, 4.2.5).
Offered: Tuesday through Friday
Duration: Up to 45 minutes
Start Time: 3 classes offered per day, available until filled
Location: Picnic Area, unless raining
Capacity: 15 people min. to 140 people max.
Cost: $5 per student
*Classes are not guaranteed to be private*


Educating with Partner Programs – Available Spring 2021

Making the Grade Presented by Discovery Cube Orange County
Join Discovery Cube Instructors as we explore the forces and processes that shape our Southern California landscape as well as engineering solutions used to help humans live in such a dynamic location. Students participate in a presentation that investigates the forces that have affected the Mission and the local landscape, and build and test models that are used in engineering of buildings to help provide strength and stability. Presentation and activities align with NGSS (Earth Science 4-ESS1-1, 4-ESS2-2, 4-ESS3-2 Engineering Design 3-5 ETS1-2, Physical Science 4-PS4-1).
Offered: Tuesdays & Fridays
Duration: 1 hour
Start Time: 9:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m.
Location: West Gardens, unless raining
Capacity: 15 people min. to 120 people max.
Cost: $5 per student

Journeys to the Past Presented by Jacque Tahuka Nunez, Native American Educator
Native American Storytelling! Orange County Educator of the Year for 2009, Jacque Tahuka Nunez, takes students on a journey into the lifestyle of the indigenous people of California. Children experience lively music, storytelling, songs, games, and dance with opportunities to participate.  Students leave with an appreciation of environmentalism and what it means to be “keepers of the earth.” Presentation aligns with CA HSS (4.2.1).
Offered: April 29, May 20, & June 10, 2021
Duration: 1 hour
Start Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Central Courtyard, unless raining
Capacity: 15 people min. to 120 people max.
Cost: $5 per student


Onsite Chaperone Policy

As part of the Mission’s ongoing dedication to the safety of visiting school groups, we have changed our chaperone policies. Any adult with a school group will now be given a special sticker indicating that they are part of a school group. In addition to this safety precaution the Mission will also now be admitting the 1 required chaperone for every 10 students for free. Any adult accompanying a field trip beyond this ratio will now be considered a “Field Trip Guest” who will be required to pay an admission fee based on registration program pricing. There will be 3 categories for adults who accompany a school group:

Teacher/Aid – Free with students

Chaperone – 1 chaperone for every 10 students is free per the required adult to student ratio

Field Trip GuestAny adults beyond this 1:10 chaperone/student ratio who chooses to join the field trip will be charged a fee based on reservation program pricing. It will be up to the teacher/organizer of the field trip to determine the current adult to student ratio based on their group size before the group arrives at the Mission.


Payment Information

Group Tours/Field Trips: Full payment must be received at least 30 days in advance of the tour date or upon booking for any reservation made less than 30 days in advance. All field trips and tours are tentative holds until payment is received to complete a guaranteed reservation. At 30 days out, tentative holds will be released if no payment is received.  Please send check by mail, fax purchase order, or call Group Bookings at (949) 234-1306 to pay by credit card. Make check payable to Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Cancellation/Late Tour Policies

Onsite Field Trips
Cancelling tours requires speaking or emailing directly with the Group Bookings Department at (949) 234-1306 or emailing bookatour@missionsjc.com. Cancellations must be completed no less than 30 working days in advance in order to receive a refund. Late cancellations due to weather will not be refunded but may be rescheduled. A $25 rescheduling fee will be assessed for administrative work. In the event the Mission must close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, field trip funds will be reallocated toward a distance learning program, Mission Store merchandise, or toward a rescheduled onsite field trip for the following school year. Otherwise, all payments are nonrefundable. Schools will be charged for 100% of any tours and education programs that are cancelled the day of the tour resulting from a late-show. Programming may be cancelled if arrival is more than 30 minutes later than scheduled start time. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled start time for check in. In addition, the Mission does not provide any day of arrival adjustments or refunds based on number of attendees. If student count is lower than purchased amount, vouchers for free admission will be provided to all students that were paid for but did not attend.

Distance Learning Field Trips
All Distance Learning programs are nonrefundable. Rescheduling is permitted when done at least 30 days in advance of the scheduled program.