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.
The oar claspers of Newport Harbor Kayak Fishing expertly tour the harbor's hotspots for bass, halibut, and even warm-weather barracuda or bonito. Most of the bay's feisty pisces will gamely battle dugout-buoyed sportsmen, quite unlike the capitulating barrel-flounder. The glassy, eelgrass-tufted waters of Newport Harbor are the most popular tour destination of these paddle-powered trawlers, and one of the few homes globally to the spotted bay bass. Lure casters of all skill levels should consult the list of requisite gear, which includes sunscreen, food and water, and drenchable clothing. Live bait, if desired, is purchasable on-site for about $20. This tour is for catch-and-release fishing only, so don't plan on taking home any souvenirs for mounting or alibi confirmation.
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.
Pirate Coast teaches aspiring sea cruisers to put plank to water and glide across the ocean's surface on a surfboard powered by a long paddle. Learn the basics of paddleboard through land and water instruction while simultaneously strengthening the core, the part of the body the rest of the anatomy looks up to. During lessons, students will practice newly acquired skills on Newport Back Bay, where calm waters relax inexperienced paddlers and rock merbabies to sleep. When the learning is complete, a tour of Newport Harbor will display views of windblown bluffs, sandy beaches, and yachts glimmering in golden sunlight. Each student is equipped with a stand-up paddleboard, paddle, and personal floatation device (upon request).
Under strings of lanterns and the night's canopy of stars, kids scamper through a field filled with thousands of pumpkins, each one searching for the biggest, roundest one. Finding it is one thing; lifting it is another. The bountiful Pumpkin City's Pumpkin Farm began a bit by happenstance—the owners originally began selling pumpkins out of the back of their pickup and steadily added on amusements as more people came each year. More than 30 years later, the one-month harvest festival sets up each October with attractions ranging from pony rides to puppet shows. As they explore the area amid bales of hay, teepees, character cutouts, and other props, kids can feed baby goats and sheep at the petting zoo or sit on an authentic tractor from 1932. Once guests have procured the perfect pumpkin to carve into the likeness of their favorite monster, they can get their picture taken with Pumpkin Jack, hop on rides such as the Goliath Slide or Pumpkin City Express Train, or visit Gone Fishing, Knock 'Em Down, and other game booths.
The experienced instructors at Leslie Thomson Training forge respectful bonds between humans and horses while cultivating basic riding and Western show skills in both parties. Across rollicking fields of grass, teachers demonstrate how to navigate trail patterns and control the steed's stride and speed. Students also learn proper stallion care, as well as how to use tongue clicks to signal sightings of the ice-cream truck.