When Father Lasuen founded Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1775, he created the 7th of modern California's 21 missions, which were intended to serve as epicenters of Christianity and Spanish culture in the New World. The mission system fell into disarray and disrepair during the war for Mexican independence and the Mexican-American War, but San Juan Capistrano remains, standing as a relic of that era and a testament to California's historical mélange of European and Native American cultures.
The mission invites visitors to learn more about the region’s history by exploring 10 acres of preserved adobe architecture, fountains, and gardens. Audio tours give groups a unique insight into the site's stories, and rotating exhibits feature artwork as well as historical and religious artifacts from San Juan Capistrano. Hands-on activities allow guests to recreate the experience of centuries-old mission life by making adobe bricks, panning for gold, or connecting computers to dial-up modems.
Schooling hitters with its Iron Mike professional pitching machines, training cages, and certified instructors, the Laguna Beach hitting emporium helps sharpen the swings of players of all ages. All machines within the outdoor, mesh-shielded facility pelt backstops at a distance of 46 feet from home plate–allowing batters to hone their timing–and are capable of simulating real-life pitching speeds between 35 and 85 mph, while catering to left handers, right handers, and no handers alike.
Atop Pirate Coast Paddle Co.’s fleet of standup paddleboards, guests glide over the placid inlets of Newport Beach Back Bay in scenic excursions. The paddleboards—which look like slightly larger, heavier surfboards—offer a sturdy enough base for guests to stand upright and propel themselves with a single oar, an action that exercises core muscles better than doing sit-ups with a porpoise on your chest.
Led by a staff of nautical guides, paddleboarding tours send clients into the orange horizon during sunset paddle outings and enjoy an ocean view of the stars during full-moon SUP parties. Pirate Coast also offers private, semi-private, and group lessons. During all excursions, Pirate Coast provides boards and necessary equipment rentals, letting clients worry about how to stave off scurvy while on the ocean.
Catalina Island may reside a mere 75 minutes from Newport Beach, but that's no reason why visitors shouldn't travel there in style. The Catalina Flyer allows them to do just that, accommodating as many as 600 passengers who spend their speedy journey relaxing on the sun decks, enjoying a drink in one of two full-service cocktail lounges, or gazing out the viewing windows and watching for migrating schools of sushi rice.
After disembarking in Avalon, visitors are encouraged to take advantage of Catalina Island's many shopping, dining, and recreational opportunities, which include everything from golf and ziplines to horseback riding, undersea tours, and even buffalo watching. Hotel accommodations facilitate overnight stays, ensuring that weekenders have ample time to enjoy the island before taking the afternoon voyage back to the mainland.
The instructors at Rado's Fitness, including the titular Rado himself, lead students through challenging Pilates and spin classes within their fully stocked studio. They use the core-tightening exercises of Pilates and the high-cardio, low-impact nature of spinning to help students of all levels build strength, flexibility, and confidence.
Currently celebrating its 40th year, Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching introduces land-logged humans to the watery wonders of the deep blue sea and its mysterious residents. Tours depart the docks daily at 5 p.m., and guests are encouraged to arrive 20 minutes early and should be aware that tours leave earlier as the season gets later in order to depart before sunset, and tours move to the daytime in December and January, departing at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. daily. Through October, breathtaken blowhole fans can view blue whales who've emerged from their hibernation nests to stretch baleen, and those who redeem their Groupon later will see gray whales showboating swimming skills on their November–April migration. From the comfortable vantage point of a whale-watching cruise coasting through the warm, krill-rich waters just offshore, seafaring sightseers may encounter the gentle giants as well as pods of dolphins hoping to one day be promoted to whale. Each cruise is narrated by a knowledge-saturated captain and even comes with an aquatic-life guarantee: in the rare event that the whales and dolphins are occupied with underwater income-tax filing, each passenger will receive a ride-again voucher (with no expiration date) that can be redeemed at any time.