Enjoy historic and beautiful San Juan Capistrano with the whole family on a walking tour of the city. It is about a 45 minute walk and the suggested donation per person is $5. Meet up at the Verdugo Street train station at the Information Kiosk. You will stroll down Los Rios Street, which is the oldest street in California! Then you will visit the SJC Historical Society grounds which includes the O’Neil Museum, the Leck House, Silvas Adobe, and the jail.
Los Rios Street will take you to the oldest neighborhood in California with nearly forty homes including three original adobe homes. Be sure to check out the Montanez, the Rios, and the Silva adobes that housed the mission workers from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Today, many of the other homes are private residences, but some of the homes are businesses that are open to the public. Do not miss the willow trees amongst the eucalyptus and palms. There are also admirable cactus and wild flowers that are under cover of bouganvia. Do not miss the unusual gifts at the Hummingbird Cottage, tea from The Tea House, and other wonderful businesses.
The O’Neill Museum was the Garcia/Pryor residence built between 1870 and 1880 by Jose Garcia for his wife. He was a saloon owner and was unfortunately murdered in 1896 and his ghost has been said to sit on the porch occasionally, smoking a cigar. It was originally built as a 4 bedroom home with no bath or kitchen, but a kitchen was added in 1895. Albert Pryor purchased the home in 1903 from the Garcia family and lived there through 1955. The home was donated to the San Juan Capistrano historical society in the 1970’s and was turned into the museum it is now.
The Leck House was built on the vast land owned by Jasper and Alicia Leck. It was situated high up and has wonderful views of the surrounding county and the Pacific Ocean, but when the owners passed on, their land and hundreds of acres were sold and the house going to be destroyed. Happily, the city opted to move the home due to the historical value of the home to the community. In May of 2005, the home was moved to the Historical Society property.
The historic jail was built in 1896 and served as a holding cell for lawbreakers and a holdover point for prisoners that were being moved between San Diego and Los Angeles. The jail was moved from its original location which was on the west side of Camino Capistrano at the intersection of Ortega highway and then later moved near the Montanez Adobe, until it was moved to its current location at the Historical Society. You will see that the prisoners must have hoped for mild weather in that jail cell!
If you would like to purchase tickets for this historical tour of San Juan Capistrano, they are held on Saturdays at 1:00pm. You can choose your date and get the tickets here. You may also want to go to go over to the mission the same day if you have time in your itinerary!