Heritage Tourism Association

History & Culture of the Mission District

In 2015, Mission San Juan Capistrano, the birthplace of Orange County, founded a Heritage Tourism Association to provide the Mission’s 300,000 annual visitors with information about the history and cultural of the city’s historic district, which lies just outside the Mission gates.

Businesses and non-profits within the Mission District and the Los Rios Historic District banded together with the Mission to promote their unique venues.  The historic districts are home to unique historic assets, a notable Native American history, the Legend of the Swallows, a historic train depot, an equestrian heritage, a renowned library and many outstanding community curated adobes and historic buildings.  The culture is strengthened with festivals, concerts and art shows — all within walking distance from one another.

“We are excited to leverage our attendance to support our history based businesses and non-profits promoting unique experiences!” said Mechelle Lawrence Adams, Executive Director of Mission San Juan Capistrano. “It’s our pleasure and also our obligation to ensure the community’s past is recognized and celebrated in a way it truly deserves.


Entertainment, events, tours and activities are listed on our Heritage Tourism Association map.  Be sure to ask for your FREE map at the gate of the Mission San Juan Capistrano.

For more information, contact the Mission at (949) 234-1321.


Capistrano Plaza, an array of dining and shopping options in the center of downtown

Cedar Creek Inn, a fabulous patio garden setting with American fare at its best

El Adobe de Capistrano Mexican Steakhouse, boasts fabulous Mexican cuisine, a historical jail cell in the basement the 1797 Miguel Yorba Adobe, which was once the favorite restaurant of President Richard Nixon.

Inn at the Mission, San Juan Capistrano, Opening Spring 2020 in the heart of downtown San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano, California Landmark #200 is the “Jewel of the Missions” and hosts one-of-a-kind artifacts, treasures, paintings, original adobe buildings, Serra Chapel, world-famous swallows, and the Ruins of the Great Stone Church

Mission Store, support the preservation of Mission San Juan Capistrano by shopping at the Mission Store, a local landmark shopping experience

Swallow’s Inn, circa 1950, is a San Juan Capistrano landmark. Proudly touted by its owners as “Best Dive Bar in Orange County”


3:16 Bakery Shop, known to satisfy every sweet tooth that has ever entered their door near the Verdugo Street train platform

Best Western Capistrano Inn, enjoy accommodations at this family-friendly hotel that is easily accessible from the freeway, making transportation and sight-seeing a breeze

Bueno Bueno Mexican Kitchen, a stone’s throw from the train depot, this eatery offers delightful Mexican cuisine

The Coach House Concert Hall, a legendary music venue located in South Orange County, California

Ellie’s Table, offers American delights, pastries, and more in the historic Egan House, circa 1883

Five Vines Wine Bar, enjoy lovely wine tasting and hearty bites in this warm and inviting space

Hennessey’s Tavern, serving Irish hospitality in a pub atmosphere with mighty burgers and small bites.

L’Hirondelle Restaurant, Belgian-French Bistro fare with a snug garden across from the Mission.

Mission Fine Art Gallery, this artist-run gallery showcases the work of local artists in a variety of mediums from jewelry to sculpture to painting.

Mission Promenade, featuring fine shops, dining, beauty and health series in the historic Ferris Kelly building, circa 1920s

The Old Barn Antique Mall, with items hailing from lands far away and a time gone by, you can find a one-of-a-kind keepsake

Paddy’s Station Irish Bar, Irish owned and operated, coming soon to downtown San Juan Capistrano

Rancho Capistrano Winery, scrumptious winery and bistro in the 1938 Vaquero West Building

Residence Inn Dana Point San Juan Capistrano, enjoy close proximity to downtown dining, shopping, and cultural activities at this hotel property

San Juan Hills Golf Club, one of the best courses in San Juan Capistrano and a favorite Mission Viejo Golf Course

Shops on Los Rios (Las Catrinas, Nest, and The Cottage Gallery), this trio of shops offers artwork, jewelry, and home decor items that are unique and reflective of the spirit of San Juan Capistrano. Enjoy shopping on Los Rios Street, part of the oldest continually occupied neighborhood in the state of California.

Sundried Tomato American Bistros & Catering, located in the Valenzuela Adobe, circa 1789, this dining establishment offers indoor and outdoor eating with legendary dishes

Taqueria El Campeon, in this cafeteria style setting you can get Mexican small or large plates for the whole family!

The Tea House on Los Rios, in addition to serving high tea, The Tea House on Los Rios offers a selection of loose-leaf teas and small home decor items in the historic Rodman House, circa 1910

Trevor’s at the Tracks, located in the historic Capistrano Depot, is a delight for the eye as well as the gastronomic track. Be sure to enjoy the fresh herbs growing along the vintage building, circa 1894

We Olive & Wine Bar, stop by this friendly boutique for wine tasting, olive oils, gourmet food in the 1920 Ferris Kelly Building

Zoomars Petting Zoo,a petting zoo since 1980 located in San Juan Capistrano’s Historic District steps away from the San Juan Capistrano Train Station


Blas Aguilar Adobe Museum, explore the Blas Aguilar Adobe Museum through its presented artifacts, photographs, lectures, and hands-on education to learn about the different historical periods of San Juan Capistrano

Camino Real Playhouse, home to a vibrant performing arts community in downtown San Juan Capistrano with a robust and full season throughout the calendar year

Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo, come see the best of the best in the rodeo world at this annual summertime tradition!

San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association, the Fiesta Association presents a variety of events to the community

San Juan Capistrano Historical Society, housed in the 1870 Garcia/Pryor House, also known as the O’Neill Museum, is the headquarters for archives of photographs, books, documents, maps, genealogical records, oral histories, and much more

San Juan Capistrano Rotary Club/Vintage Car Show, classic, new, and exotic cars headline this popular fundraiser brought to the community by the San Juan Capistrano Rotary Club


Berrington Properties, a full-service property management and real estate firm

Buy My Bikes, Inc., offers an expansive bike selection, one of the largest in Orange County, at this community fixture celebrating 40 years of business

Farmers & Merchants Bank, a Southern California community bank with more than 100 years of serving customers

Tom Hribar, RE/MAX Select One, San Juan Capistrano, real estate professional in San Juan Capistrano

Mission Preservation Foundation, Mission San Juan Capistrano’s Board of Directors is committed to raising funds or specialized and comprehensive preservation work to ensure Mission San Juan Capistrano remains the most significant historic site in Orange County

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Ricardo’s Place, visit this family friendly restaurant for authentic Mexican food

San Juan Historical Guides and Montanez Adobe Museum, visit the Montanez Adobe Museum, circa 1794, on historic Los Rios Street