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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

5 Great Historic Spots in South Orange County

Vintage Orange      Wednesday, January 4 2017

Earlier this season, I shared 5 Great Historic Spots in North Orange County so it's only fair that I give South County some local history love as well....

My hope is that you will be inspired to get out there and visit some of these historic treasures for yourself!

San Clemente              Casa Romantica

Long before the "master planned" communities of Irvine and Mission Viejo appeared on the Orange County landscape, San Clemente was created by developer and dreamer, Ole Hansen. In 1925, Hansen purchased 2,000 coastal acres in southern Orange County to build a "Spanish Village by The Sea."

Casa Romantica is Hansen's family home, built in 1927.  Today, visitors are welcome to this cultural center overlooking the Pacific. It's a great spot to catch a concert, check out an art exhibit, or do Yoga on Wednesday mornings. If you go, bring your camera. The views are incredible.

415 Avenida Granada
San Clemente, CA 92672

Tues - Thurs: 11 AM - 4 PM
Fri - Sun: 10 AM - 2 PM
Closed Mondays
Admission: $5.00

Irvine                           Katie Wheeler Public Library

Katie Wheeler was the grand daughter of James H. Irvine. She was born and raised in the family ranch house that was built in 1876. The Irvine family home was demolished in the late 60's, but an exact replica was built in 2008. Today, it is home to the Katie Wheeler Public Library. 

The home carries the original design, like the mahogany staircase to the second floor. Family portraits hang on the walls and you can imagine what it must have been like when the Irvines lived here.

Make sure you walk through the Irvine Ranch Historic Park before you leave. Many of the original agricultural headquarters and offices are onsite. 

Located at:

13109 Old Myford Rd, Irvine, CA 92602

Monday though Thursday - 10AM–8PM
Friday .  through Sunday .       -  9AM–5PM

Newport Beach            Balboa Island-Newport Harbor

It would be fair to say that the entire Newport Harbor is one big historic site. After strolling around Balboa Island (1908) take the Balboa Island car ferry (1919) across the harbor to Balboa Peninsula where the Balboa Pavilion (1906) towers over the old Fun Zone (1936).

Balboa Island Museum

 331 Marine Ave, Balboa Island, CA 92662

Tuesday through Sunday     10-4pm
Closed Mondays

Modjeska Canyon        Arden - Home of Helena Modjeska

Madame Helena Modjeska (1840-1909)  was known as the finest actress of her time. She built an idyllic retreat in the Santa Ana Canyon country for family and named it Arden, after the forest in the Shakespearean play "As You Like It."

Today, Arden has been lovingly restored by the OC Parks, and is open for tours. It takes an effort and a good GPS to find this tucked-away gem, but the journey is well worth it.

29042 Modjeska Canyon Rd, Silverado, CA 92676

Tours are by appointment only.
Contact Heritage Hill Historical Park
(949) 923-2230

San Juan Capistrano        Los Rios Historic District

While the Mission San Juan Capistrano gets most of the tourist buzz, my favorite historic place to explore is the Los Rios Historic District. It's not far from the Mission, just across the old Santa Fe railroad tracks. In fact many of the original inhabitants of this rustic neighborhood were the soldiers who came to build the mission. Los Rios has the distinction of being one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in the state, and it's one of my very favorite places to walk, shop, and breathe in California history. 

31831 Los Rios St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Tuesday 9AM–4PM
Wednesday 9AM–4PM
Thursday 9AM–4PM
Friday 9AM–4PM
Saturday 12–3PM
Sunday 12–3PM
Monday Closed

Are your favorites on the list?

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