California is truly an interesting place. From north to south, east to west and in between, it offers so much variety in terms of landscape, culture and people. I enjoy exploring this state every chance I get. I love learning about its history while taking pictures in the process. On October 2015, I spent a day in San Juan Capistrano. This is a city that is located between Los Angeles and San Diego in Southern California. It is known to be the birthplace of Orange County.

My day here started with a latte and an almond croissant at the quaint Hidden House Coffee located on Los Rios St.  I would have to say that they serve one of the best almond croissants I’ve ever had and is a must try.

Next, I walked over to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. This place and its standing pieces of architecture was truly captivating! It is a very different world preserved within its walls. This mission was the 7th of 21 missions built in CA by Spanish missionaries. It was completed in 1806 but destroyed in Dec 8, 1812 due a reported 6.9 – 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Mission San Juan Capistrano church ruins

Like many historical places, the city and the mission comes with their own share of ghost stories that you can dare to read about here.

Beautiful courtyard halls

The Mission courtyard. It’s really all about the palm trees and blue skies too in this shot 🙂

Painter Saim Caglayan in action. He happened to be there during my visit. More about him and his work at

Cactus and succulents seem to be as natural to California as the super tall palm trees.

Koi fishes saying ‘hello’ to each other 🙂

Most of the 21 missions are still operational today and are located near or off of Hwy 101 from Solano (north) to San Diego (south).

After touring the mission grounds, I walked back to the Los Rios District. It is known to be the oldest neighborhood in the state of California. This is evident in the well preserved adobe homes and dirt road on Los Rios Street. This section is also home to quaint restaurants, as well as fascinating collectibles and gifts.

I ended the day at the Tea House on Los Rios. This was actually the main purpose of my visit to San Juan Capistrano. I had been craving delicious tea and mini tea sandwiches for some time. What a terrific choice location-wise this was. I was able to see some of California’s history in the process.

From the menu, I ordered The Los Rios Tea (comprised of freshly baked currant scone with their famous raspberry preserves and early California cream; assorted finger sandwiches and fresh fruit accompanied by cream and brown sugar). I paired the spread with the spiced plum tea, which was super delicious!

As I sat outside in their patio garden area under the afternoon sun, I watched as young students walked by on their way home from school. Some locals also rode by on their bikes. A group of seminarians also walked by likely taking a break from their studies to enjoy the nice afternoon weather. Los Rios Street was bustling with activity that afternoon.

As I worked on my tea and sandwiches, I could not help but imagine the people, crowds, and different modes of transportation that passed through this street since the 1700’s when this area was first established. Can you imagine playing it in fast forward?

San Juan Capistrano Ghost History