Neighborhood Travels

San Juan Capistrano, At a Glance

San Juan Capistrano is a small town about an hour’s drive south.  It’s also the place to which the swallows return in the spring.  The main attraction is of course the mission, the 7th in the long line of 21 missions founded along the California coast.

I set out on a scouting run to see just what else was in San Juan Capistrano and to try to get a better understanding of California  history.  I don’t think I was entirely successful in the latter but I did discover the Los Rios District of the town.

This is an area just across from the railroad depot and about a block or two from the mission.  I read that it was a series of historic homes dating back to the 1700s for some of the adobes and 1800s for the other dwellings in the area.  That peaked my interest.

Parking was easy.  There was plenty of street parking across from the mission.  And it was free and I could leave my car for four hours!   I walked the short distance to Los Rios and discovered it’s a small area with many of the homes surrounded by picket fences and lots of foliage.Picket fence with welcome sign and birdhouse decorated with mission symbolThe emblem of the mission on the birdhouse is a nice touch.

I also learned that many of the homes have transformed themselves into businesses selling tea or lunches.  Others offer artwork and home decorations that I think of as bric-a-brac.  It’s a lively place with cars and people jostling for the same road space.People stroll the road in the Los Rios District

It can also be a hostile place.  I saw many signs warning photographers away.  I seem to have a knack for finding odd mailboxes and couldn’t resist shooting this one but just to the left of it is a wooden gate with a sign saying that the home is a private residence and photographers should ply their trade elsewhere.  There were several signs of that type and they did not encourage me to stay, nor did they encourage me to shop.Rural mailbox supported by shortened utility pole

I wandered over to Mission San Juan Capistrano but it is walled off and the only way in is through the main gate, after one pays the admission fee.  ($9.00 for adults)  My dog was with me so I hadn’t planned to tour the mission but I had rather hoped to see the gardens.  I was even willing to pay to see them, but dogs aren’t allowed.  I wasn’t really surprised by that.  I hadn’t expected Jem would get through the admission gate.

The town was very busy and I can’t imagine what it will be like in a couple weeks when the swallows return.   According to the town’s website there will be a Swallows Day Parade on March 12th.  According to the mission website the swallows return on March 19th, St. Joseph’s Day.   One thing is certain, I won’t be returning to see the swallows.  It will be much too crowded!

Elizabeth Boatman

Traveler, explorer, memory maker and someone who's just downright curious about stuff. It's all about finding joy.

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