There are many fun San Juan Capistrano facts to know that may open your eyes to a new experience. We all travel and visit many different places without knowing the history or facts about that place. That’s not a bad thing but you could enhance your experience overall by just learning a few things about the places you visit. Even people who live in San Juan Capistrano may not know a few of the more interesting facts about the city in which they live. The San Juan Capistrano Mission takes the cake for the most historical and interesting fact about the city. But that isn’t all there is to know about San Juan Capistrano.
There are many different San Juan Capistrano facts to know but only a few make the cut as the most interesting facts you can learn.
San Juan Capistrano Facts | Oldest California Neighborhood
What came first, the mission or the city? Well, technically the city but the mission brought more attention. San Juan Capistrano was inhabited by the Acjachemen tribe of Native Americans. The mission was built in 1776 and named after Giovanni da Capistrano who was a saint from the Italian region of Abruzzo. The city was then built around the mission and even named after it. All of this is interesting but what makes it even better is that San Juan Capistrano is home to the oldest residential neighborhood in California. You will also find the oldest building still in use in California at the mission, Serra Chapel.
First California Winery
Once again, we have the missionaries to thank for something wonderful in California. One of the most interesting San Juan Capistrano facts is that it is home to the first vineyard. As a result, the first winery can be found in San Juan Capistrano. Wild grape vines could be found all over the area and missionaries thought that meant the land was fertile. Father Palou took some vines from Old California (Baja California) and transplanted them at the mission. The first crop of grapes was ripened in the fall of 1783 and the first wine was made around 1784.
You may be familiar with a fictional character named Zorro, depending on your age. Zorro was a masked man who acted as a sort of vigilante. The original story was written by Johnston McCulley in 1919. Zorro didn’t have an exact setting, missions were popular in the story though. But Johnston McCulley used San Juan Capistrano for the setting and Mission San Juan Capistrano as the starting point. This is the first time San Juan Capistrano was used in an entertaining way and that is why it is one of the San Juan Capistrano facts to know.
San Juan Capistrano is known for the mission but there are some circles where the cliff swallows are more noteworthy. The cliff swallow is a type of bird that originates in Argentina. Usually, in March of each year, the birds migrate from Argentina to the San Juan Capistrano area. These birds then migrate back for the winter around October. There was even a song written about the birds by Leon Rene in 1940. However, from 2009 to 2017 the birds did not migrate to San Juan Capistrano. Instead, they migrated to the Chino Hills. But in 2018, the birds returned and it was a very beautiful thing to see.
El Adobe de Capistrano
There is a restaurant where you can order some truly authentic Mexican food in San Juan Capistrano. El Adobe de Capistrano is that restaurant. The restaurant opened its doors in 1948 and has been operating happily ever since. However, there is more history here than just the restaurant. The building itself is an adobe building, in fact, there are two. Miguel Yorba built it as his home. The home was originally built in 1797 and that makes this one of the more interesting San Juan Capistrano facts is that. The southern portion of the building was built in 1812 as a court/ jail. The building was a store in 1910 and then became a restaurant in honor of the First Commandant of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps. Base, General Fagan’s wedding. That was the first wedding that was held in the building and it still offers wedding services today.