Orange County Hidden Gem: Mission San Juan Capistrano

Living in California has A LOT of perks. Oddly enough, I’d say one of those is being able to drive an hour from pretty much anywhere in California (unless you’re above Sonoma) and you’ll end up at a mission. Call me nerdy, but I love telling people that El Camino Real connects all 21 missions from San Diego up to Sonoma. Yup, you’re not going crazy for seeing many El Camino Real street exits off the freeway during your road trip. Of course, some parts of El Camino Real are intersected by freeways and other less-cool things, but overall, it pretty much flows the whole way.

I’m not sure where my fascination with missions comes from, as I’m certainly not a history buff. Maybe it’s because as an SCU alumni, I went to school on possibly the most beautiful campus, all centered around a mission. Or maybe it’s because whenever I take a trip, I somehow always end up walking past a mission so I obviously have to check it out.  Or maybe it all stems back to 4th grade when I was in tears over my mom telling me we had to throw away my lasagna noodle house rendition of Mission San Luis Rey. I really have no clue.

Don’t get me wrong, some missions aren’t that great because there’s not much to see, but most are pretty spectacular. I haven’t been to every mission, so I’m no expert, but I have to tell you I already have a favorite: Mission San Juan Capistrano. It’s $9 to get in but so worth it. Matt and I spent a good few hours there wandering throughout the grounds, checking out the architecture and the walls. Oh the walls. I have a thing for beautiful walls and this place is full of them.

Check out other hidden gems.

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