Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano

Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano


After graduating from UCLA, JIll traveled the world looking for unique destinations. She’s been writing about her travels for almost 30 years in various publications.

She writes a weekly restaurant review for the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News. It’s inserted into the Los Angeles Times every Thursday and delivered to subscribers from Hancock Park to Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills to the Wilshire Corridor.

Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano

BY Jill Weinlein

Now that vaccines are being administered, many of us are ready for a change of scenery and eager to travel. For those still anxious about flying, driving trips are safer and offer more flexibility.

I discovered a new hacienda-style boutique Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano that is an ideal first trip for 2021. It’s location across the street from one of the most beautiful historic Missions in California along El Camino Real, (the King’s Road). San Juan Capistrano is the 7th of 21 Missions stretching from Mexico to northern California. Most of the Missions follow California Highway 101, and were built every 40 to 50 miles.

Mission San Juan Capistrano was originally founded in 1775 by father Junipero Serra and became the birthplace of Orange County.

Located half way between Los Angeles and San Diego, what makes this Mission extra special are the swallows that return every March to their mud nests, bringing photographers and tourists to the area to watch this natural phenomenon.

Staying at the Inn at the Mission, an Autograph Collection, it’s one of the world’s most distinctive independent hotels around the globe. Each hotel in the collection offers an authentic sense of place, incorporating a story of old tradition and new discoveries.

Situated on four acres, this destination offers three buildings and plenty of outdoor space among 72 olive trees. Missionaries brought olive trees from Spain to the Mission. The first recorded planting of an olive tree in California was in 1769.

The lobby is the social hub offering Ysidora Restaurant, named after Ysidora Forster, the Mission’s matriarch. She and her husband Don Juan Forster were at one time the largest land owners in all of California. They bought the San Juan Capistrano Mission at an auction for $710 when the church had withdrawn back to Mexico. They lived there until 1865, when Abraham Lincoln made them give it back to the state. Ysidora Restaurant offers a Spanish theme menu featuring wood fired grilled seafood, hot and cold tapas, local meats and seasonal, locally sourced produce enhanced with Mission olives and olive oil. The hotel collaborates with award-winning Nuvo olive oil and sells their Reverence Extra Virgin Olive Oil onsite for guests to take home.

The bar at Ysidora offers Spanish wines and Spanish influenced cocktails that honor Spain’s olives and lavender, such as the frozen Lavender Rose. Right now outdoor dining is offered on the patios surrounding the restaurant.

Besides Ysidora Restaurant, there is also The Coffee House, El Cafe Real that serves La Colombe coffees, delicious salads, sandwiches, pastries, Spanish wine and craft cocktails. It has become a favorite spot for locals to sit outdoors and take in the charm of the property.

Walking to one of the spacious guest rooms, luxury suites or villas, visitors will notice glass mission bell light fixtures, as well as local art featuring swallows and equestrian scenes. Guest rooms in the main building include Monterey style dark paneling and blue trim windows. The luxurious Mission-style decor offer comfortable amenities, luxury linens and many bathrooms with rain shower heads and bathtubs. High ceilings, mission-style grand armoires, and private balconies embody a more residential feel. Some rooms and suites have views overlooking the ruins of the Great Stone Church.

Guest staying at the Inn receive complimentary tickets to enter the Mission San Juan Capistrano to learn about the rich history of California, and walk around the beautiful grounds.

Guests can also cool off in the sparkling heated pool or visit the on-site Spa at the Mission offering four treatment rooms for a wellness facial or massage. The beautiful grounds offer a bubbling tiled fountain, palm trees and areas to sit and take in the ambiance of the resort.

Staying at the Inn at the Mission, guests will hear the iconic bells ring seven times each day starting at 9 am. When the church collapsed in a massive earthquake in 1812, the four original bells survived and were hung in a bell wall the following year.

Reservations can be made at or call (949)503-5700. 31692 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano, CA  92675.

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