As gas prices soar and road trips become increasingly expensive the Metrolink from Fullerton Station offers an affordable and relaxing option for a day trip to some of Southern California’s most beautiful and historic locations.

On this trip, we head south to where the swallows fly in San Juan Capistrano.

Originally known as the Santa Fe Depot the Fullerton Station was built in 1930 and features Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. The Fullerton Station is located at 120 E. Santa Fe Ave, about a ten-minute walk from the Fullerton College campus.

Rail tracks side of the Amtrak station with Fullerton spelled out in metal on top.

Rail tracks side of the Amtrak station with Fullerton spelled out in metal on top. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Know before you go:

You can buy your tickets in advance using the Metrolink website which offers a $10 weekend pass or from a kiosk at the station. There are only four trains departing and arriving to and from San Juan Capistrano on a typical Saturday or Sunday so be sure to check the schedule and plan in advance.

The Amtrak Surfliner is also an option, but those tickets are a little more expensive at $32 round trip.

The double decker cabins make traveling and sightseeing fun and easy. Starting point in Fullerton, California.

The double decker cabins make traveling and sightseeing fun and easy. Starting point in Fullerton, California. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Food and Drinks

After the 45-minute train ride, Trevor’s at the Tracks is conveniently located at the San Juan Capistrano station exit and a good option for refueling before hitting the rest of the town. In business since 2017, their motto, “Locally Acquired, Globally Inspired,” is evident from their locally sourced charcuterie boards which pair well with their large selection of California wines.

Trevor's at the Tracks in San Juan Capistrano. Fine American Dining and drinks served perfect. First stop on the itinerary.

Trevor's at the Tracks in San Juan Capistrano. Fine American Dining and drinks served perfect. First stop on the itinerary. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Trevor’s at the Tracks features an island-style bar and an outdoor patio. Trevor’s offers indoor seating if you want to block out the sun.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Next stop, Mission San Juan Capistrano, California Landmark No. 200. Located at 26801 Ortega Hwy.

It is the seventh of the 21 missions in California. Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776 by Spanish Catholic missionaries.

Today the Mission serves as a museum educating guests on California’s multi-cultural history. Entrance cost is $14 for adults, seniors (60+) $12, students $9, and children (5+) $9.

Upon entrance, on the west wing of the mission, is the soldiers’ barracks. This room shows how soldiers stationed at the mission lived. Featuring an exhibit with soldiers’ uniforms, weapons and sleeping cots.

The south wing of the museum is dedicated to the Padre. Named, “Life as a Padre,” it features living and sleeping quarters, a kitchen and the Padres’ sitting room, where the padre would conduct day-to-day activities.

In the middle of the museum’s wings lies the central courtyard. Featuring the same flora and fauna that a visitor would have seen in the late 1700s. Creating a vibe perfect for a siesta.

A can’t miss landmark of the mission is the ruins of the Great Stone Church. Reminiscent of an Old-World Spanish building featuring 50-foot-high walls and a 120-foot bell tower. In 1812 an earthquake damaged a portion of the building and today, the damaged portion of the great stone church remains visible to visitors of the Mission.

The Great Stone Church was damaged during an earthquake in 1812. The only remains of the church ruins are in display at the mission in San Juan Capistrano, California.

The Great Stone Church was damaged during an earthquake in 1812. The only remains of the church ruins are in display at the mission in San Juan Capistrano, California. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Expect to spend 2 to 3 hours exploring the mission, as there is much to see. Mission San Juan Capistrano is an exciting and educational time travel back to the 18th century.

Final Stop. Los Rios Street

Los Rios Street is the oldest continually occupied residential neighborhood in California. The main entrance is located on Verdugo Street next to the train station.

This street is steeped in history. It was home to Native Americans of the Acjachemen Nation for tens of thousands of years prior to the arrival of Spanish missionaries.

Montanez Adobe Home was built in 1794. It was one of forty houses built to house the Acjachemen Indians that worked in and on the Mission. It is named after a 19-century resident, Polonia Montanez. It is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Dunivin and was San Juan Capistrano Historical Society. It was restored by the city of San Juan Capistrano and Orange County in 1981.

Hidden House Coffee is a friendly, artsy vibe coffee house, located at 31791 Los Rios St, San Juan Capistrano. HHC started 11 years ago and sits on a 120-year-old house on historic Los Rios Street. HHC is veteran-owned and has an intriguing backstory.

HHC offers roasted house espressos, iced coffees, hot coffees and pastries. It has patio seating on the porch and front of the property. A beautiful huge tree right in the front that offers shade to the whole property.

Hidden House Coffee House on Historic Los Rios Street in San Juan Capistrano.

Hidden House Coffee House on Historic Los Rios Street in San Juan Capistrano. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Historic Los Rios Street, once a residential neighborhood, has now become a tourist attraction. You can find coffee and tea houses, restaurants, hair salons and souvenir stores to name a few. Los Rios Street is an impressive example of living history.

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He/Him/His. Gerardo is a Journalism Major. Hiking expert. Outdoors enthusiast. Sports lover.