The OC’s hidden gem
When you think Orange County you probably think of fancy houses, the beach, and surf towns, but there is so much more to the area! One of my favourite places I have found in my travels is San Juan Capistrano. It is a little town a little inland from the coast that you can’t help but fall in love with.
1. Los Rios
Los Rios is the historical district of San Juan Capistrano (and actually where just about all of the subsequent things are located). It is the oldest residential neighbourhood in California. The buildings are old and the architecture is unlike anything I have ever seen. Walking the main street of Los Rios and exploring the shops, restaurants, and art galleries are one of the best things I have done in California yet. There are even some little museums to explore to get an idea of the history of the area.
2. Five Vines
I love craft beer and wine and this place was recommended to us by a local. Five Vines has quickly become one of our favourite places in Orange County! It is an adorable wine bar with a massive wine list and lots of amazing craft beers to choose from. The person who decorated this place clearly has an impeccable eye as well because it is absolutely adorable. The patio is the cutest place to sit and sometimes they even have live music!
3. The Mission
The Mission in San Juan Capistrano is world renown. It was founded in 1776 and is an old Catholic chapel. This isn’t something I would normally long to see but it is very well known! It is not only known for being very old and beautiful, but it is known for the annual return of the swallows. In the past, the cliff swallows would stop in the mission on their migration from Argentina each year. Sadly the birds haven’t returned to the mission since 2009, but prior to that, they had come for centuries.
4. Hidden House Coffee
There are few things I love more than a cozy cafe, and Hidden House Coffee is about as good as it gets. Their porch is the best place to sit and have a coffee. It also helps that their coffee is delicious and they have so many yummy treats.
5. Swallows Inn
Swallows Inn is a local dive bar where the locals swarm. To be completely transparent, this isn’t somewhere I have been yet, but I plan on going before leaving California! It has been recommended to me by many locals as the best horrible dive bar out there. Sounds like a must see right?
6. Rancho Capistrano Winery
San Juan is packed full of adorable places to grab a drink! Rancho Capistrano is located right across from the train station. The wine is amazing and locally sourced! Rancho Capistrano Winery is the largest winery in Orange County. They have had over 50 wines so far and are constantly coming out with new ones to try. It also has won 10 “Best of San Juan Capistrano” awards!
I think the main reason that San Juan Capistrano has stolen my heart is that it is so different than anywhere I have ever explored. You can just tell by walking through Los Rios that it is rich in culture and history. So, i
f you come to California this is a must see spot to explore in my books.