Mission San Juan Capistrano in Orange County is known as the 'Jewel of the Missions'. Founded in 1775, it was the 7th of the 21 California Missions. Its main purpose was to teach and convert the Native Americans to the new Spanish way of life. At its peak in the early 19th century, the mission was home to 1,000 people.
The earthquake of 1812, lack of funding, Mexican Independence along with disease that the Spanish had brought with them proved too much and the mission system ended in 1834. Today, the beautiful grounds are a great way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon and learn the history of the missions. The famous swallows return to the Mission every March which is commemorated on St. Joseph's Day.