5 Fun Ways to Entertain the Kids in San Juan Capistrano
Capistrano Volkswagen has been a proud member of the San Juan Capistrano community since 1997. Like you, we’re always looking for fun activities to do with our kids around town. We came up with five family-friendly activities to enjoy together. Read on for our ideas!
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Learning about the founding of our city is a great way to help kids understand their place. Founded on November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano is the seventh of the 21 missions established by the Spanish. Spanish explorers came to spread Christianity to the native people of California, and with each mission they further expanded their territorial borders. In San Juan Capistrano, the Spanish sought to assimilate the indigenous Acjachemen into their way of life, starting with conversion to Catholicism and extending to farming, cooking, clothing, and education.
The Spanish also brought disease and dramatically upset the native people’s way of life, leading to a sharp decline in population. Today, the Mission is a place of learning and reckoning with the past, along with two famous events.
Each year on March 19, the Mission hosts a “Return of the Swallows” event and celebration of St. Joseph’s Day. In the 1930s, the pastor of the Mission noticed thousands of migrating swallows from Argentina. It’s become an annual public event to celebrate the return of the swallows to the Mission.
Nine times a year, specially designated people ring the bells in the tower of the mission. They ring out to celebrate special feasts and holidays and seven times at 9 a.m. every day in memory of the Mission’s founder. General admission tickets are $14 for adults, $9 for children, and $12 for seniors. You can book small, private tours for four to eight people, or group tours for larger classes or families.
Zoomars Petting Zoo
The Zoomars petting zoo is located at River Street Ranch in the San Juan Capistrano historic district. The ranch has been in business for decades, and is now operated by the Almquist family who are San Juan Capistrano natives . The petting zoo has a guinea pig pen with all colors of adorable guinea pigs for kids to hold and pet. Kids will enjoy petting, feeding, and grooming goats and sheep. Sweet and gentle ponies are available for rides for an additional $8 for children ages 3 to 10.
There are plenty of other activities to enjoy on-site. You can purchase a box of vegetables to feed the animals, take a train ride on the kiddie train for little conductors ages 3 to 10. Kids can get the wiggles out on the Western-themed playground with four slides and a bridge. Gem mining is a popular choice, where your miners will walk away with “gold,” fossils, and other treasures. Other rides include a mini excavator digging ride or an electric tractor ride around a track.
Zoomars is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The admission fee for adults ages 13 to 59 is $15, seniors and children 19 months to 12 years cost $12. Infants are free and there’s a military discount so long as you present a valid ID.
Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park
For a lovely day spent in nature, a trip to Caspers Wilderness Park is a great spot to appreciate the flora and fauna unique to our part of Orange County. Located just 15 miles away in the canyons and sandstone terraces of the western coastal section of the Santa Ana Mountains, this 8,000-acre protected wilderness preserve is filled with hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and shelters, and equestrian trails. Fully equipped campgrounds include RV hook-ups, restrooms, and showers.
Aside from self-guided hikes and rides, families can enjoy a ranger-guided nature walk at various times on Sundays, with the opportunity to schedule a walk during the week as available. Naturalist walks and “Critter Talks” are fun for families or school groups. You’ll appreciate the wildflowers, groves of Coastal Live Oak and California Sycamores, and flowing streams visible from all areas of the park.
A day-use pass for $3 weekdays and $5 weekends and holidays is required to park, and camping reservation fees vary. The park is open 7 a.m. to sunset year-round, with camping check-in at 2 p.m. and checkout at noon. Note that dogs are not allowed anywhere in the park, on or off a leash.
Jump N Jammin
In nearby Mission Viejo, a visit to Jump N Jammin is a perfect way to get out the wiggles on a rainy or super hot day. Kids can climb, crawl, jump, and run around the safe and clean play equipment. Jump N Jammin features slides, tunnels, jungle gyms, foam blocks, and a climbing wall that’s kept clean and checked for safety. Kids’ birthday parties are a big hit, with a dedicated party host and a reserved room for cake and snacks you can bring in.
It’s open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and Sunday, and until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a few holiday closings. Admission is $17 with a discount for toddlers.
Terramor Aquatic Park
In nearby Ladera Ranch, The Terramor Aquatic Park is a perfect way to cool off from the hot Southern California sun. It combines the fun of a jungle gym and lots of things to climb with sprinklers, buckets, and a shallow 18-inch wading pool. A giant red bucket periodically fills with water and dumps on the delighted kids below. There are water cannons and overhead sprinklers that rain water all over the area.
It’s open from Memorial Day through October, and is open to residents of Ladera Ranch or guests of residents. There are lifeguards on duty, picnic tables, restrooms, and vending machines.
What do you think of our list of entertaining kids’ activities around our great city? Feel free to contact us if you have more ideas we don’t have listed. We love to hear what makes living here special.