In the beautiful city of San Juan Capistrano you can easily spend an entire day at the mission that it is known for, exploring the history and seeing the swallows. It is just as easy to spend a half day exploring the historic Los Rios District that people often overlook though. In Southern California especially there are not a lot of places like the Los Rios District, that have such great history and are so well preserved. I explored this area when I rode on the Metrolink down to San Juan Capistrano, and here are my suggestions for what to do if you go explore there as well.
Ramos House Cafe
One of the most famous restaurants in the area, the Ramos House Cafe t is a great place for brunch on the weekends. It is expensive but it is amazing food. I recommend the crab hash as it is pretty hard to beat.
Hummingbird House Cafe
A more down to earth food option in the district, the Hummingbird house has all sorts of sandwiches, appetizers and salads. It is located right on the tracks as well so it is a great spot to sit and watch the trains come in.
Hidden House Coffee
A great place for coffee and a pastry. I recommend the cold brew and the almond croissant. I love coffee shops so I just enjoyed sitting here and getting work done.
If you are traveling with children this is a great stop. They have a hay maze, tons of animals to feed and a collection of things to play on. It is 6-10 dollars to enter but there is a lot to do.
This old house is immaculately preserved and is only $1 to enter. It is not big but it is fun to see the way people lived in this area in the 1800’s. They didn’t even have a kitchen or bathroom when the house was built. It doesn’t take long to explore but I like seeing this type of thing and have no problem paying to help keep it preserved.
Right in the middle of the Low Rios District is a historic adobe that you can walk through. There are only two rooms but there are a lot of artifacts and information about the area. I picked up a map of historic sites in Southern California here which was pretty cool. The landscaping around it is beautiful with a collection of desert flowers.
If you are in to art there are a few different shops along the path that have all sorts of art and trinkets for sale. By far my favorite was these gourd masks outside of the best art gallery in the area. I mean these were actual masks that were used by the artist for their Halloween costume, how cool is that?
Inside there is plenty to see as well with a large collection of art from many different types of artists. This is the best part as the styles change with each room you enter.
Along the other side of the road there are many different antiques and shops with eclectic tastes. You never know what you will find in these shops and it makes for an amazing amount of exploration.
All in all this is an awesome area for an adventure, one that you can spend as long as you like at. There are great places to eat, drink, shop and explore. I recommend a few hours here and a few hours at San Juan Capistrano Mission. I did both on my trip down on the Metrolink. Let me know your favorite spots in the comments.