A rustic Spanish-style farm in the heart of San Juan Capistrano that's been standing since 1890 promises more creatures than just the area's famous swallows. The picturesque estate is part of Zoomars?an all-ages petting zoo that's USDA-approved for cleanliness and the place where more than 200 animals call home. The residents range from the familiar to the exotic: goats, sheep, and kunekune pigs mingle alongside exotic emus, zebus, and zebras that greet visitors for pets and feeding. One of the zoo's most popular areas is the guinea-pig patch, where some of the farm's fuzziest and friendliest creatures reside. Zoomars also features family-friendly attractions ranging from a miniature train and pony rides to the newly installed playground with four slides to the rustic Miner's Gulch, where panning the water reveals rare treasures such as gemstones.
Owner Carolyn Franks started down the path to animal care in college when she created her own line of dog toys. She soon moved from New Jersey to California where her passion snowballed: developing a full line of pet products, hosting an animal show for kids, running a chain of exotic bird stores, and even traveling to Brazil to learn about animal conservation. In 2005, she used her knowledge to take over the Jones Farm petting zoo, expanding its pens and transforming its brand into Zoomars.
Franks is joined by a well-trained staff of zookeepers and wranglers who share her vision in entertaining kids?and teaching them how to interact with the animals?as they are in caring for and shepherding mammals and birds.
Culinary school wasn’t enough of a learning experience for Hany Fadda. During the summers between his classical training at the California Culinary Academy, Hany traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East. These experiences heavily influence the cuisine that he creates as the head chef of Tannins Restaurant and Wine Bar, although he also celebrates Orange County by featuring an extensive wine list that includes more than 40 different local wines by the glass.
These wines complement the contemporary bistro-style cuisine. Italian cuisine appears most prominently on the menus, and the chefs strive for authenticity by importing prosciutto and hand-making their own meatballs in-house. In addition to the assorted pasta dishes, the menus also feature a number of pizzas with toppings that include everything from sausage and roasted red peppers to roma tomatoes and sweet basil. Desserts such as traditional Sicilian cannoli or tiramisu provide a fitting coda to the casually refined meals.
The eatery’s dining room embraces a more classical elegance, with silver candelabras on several of the linen-draped tables. High ceilings and archways between rooms contribute to this vaguely regal setting, as do the thrones that surround each table.
Monkey bars glint in the sun, surrounded by a grassy expanse and a line of giddy guests waiting their turn in line. But these jungle-gym enthusiasts aren?t children?they?re the muscular boot campers in Training Camp?s expansive backyard. In the verdant field, certified trainers lead small, motivated groups through a Cross Training workout of the day, challenging them with sprints around the 1/8?mile track, ropes that hang from lofty trees, or lifting weights in the outdoor weight room. They switch up the routines daily to keep muscles interested, and they scale exercises to suit the fitness levels of all guests.
Training Camp?s instructors also move inside the 4,000-square-foot facility to lead hot-yoga classes. They modify moves within an exposed-brick and soft-floor studio, helping students deepen their stretch as hot air loosens muscles. When not in classes, students can unwind in the smoothie bar and lounge, sinking into the cozy leather couches and awaiting a turn in the private massage room. As an added convenience, the gym offers complimentary childcare Monday?Friday for infants, toddlers and children of all ages.
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.
Cherylin Von Aldenbruck has no treadmills or weights at her outdoor "gym." The equipment is leather instead of lead, and your workout partner isn't a beefy personal trainer—it's a horse. After realizing that sitting atop a horse requires muscles to continually stabilize and balance the body, Cherylin founded Equestricise as an alternative fitness venue for anyone who's curious about horseback-riding. Each of her lessons now serve as a strengthening workout for the core and limbs.
Cherylin and her team of certified instructors aren't only concerned with toning physiques, though. They also teach groups how to care for the horses, tack, and stables. Classes cover disciplines from basic equitation to hunt seat skills, and accommodate riders of all experience levels, from beginners to those who can steer a horse blindfolded, even when the horse is also blindfolded.
Since the first vines began to climb across Hamilton Oaks Winery in 1989, Ron and Connie Tamez worked with a dedication to craft a selection of fine wines. Having sworn off pesticides and herbicides, the two collaborated with ladybugs and red-tailed hawks that thrive by devouring crop-threatening pests.
Visitors to the Hamilton Oaks Winery are welcome to sample varietals such as chardonnay, zinfandel, and cabernet sauvignon during tastings at the historic farmhouse, which has been on the land since the 1920s. Those fields also contain an orchard and mission and malbec grapevines. The space holds up to 400 people, and it's sometimes available for weddings and other events.