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Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano: Saddle Up for Fun

Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano: Saddle Up for Fun

Los Rios Park playground in San Juan Capistrano is a great place to play in addition to its location in the very historic Los Rios neighborhood.

If you’ve ever taken the train to the San Juan Capistrano Amtrak Station, you’ll be able to find this playground.

It sits directly behind Zoomars Petting Zoo and I first covered it back in 2009 when it was built.

How to Get to Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano: Exit Interstate 5 at Ortega Highway. Head towards the San Juan Capistrano Mission and turn left onto Del Obispo. After you cross Camino Capistrano and the railroad tracks, make an immediate right onto Paseo Adelanto. You’ll see the parking lot come up on your right past Zoomars. It’s marked by a large boulder with “Los Rios Park” written on it. MAP to Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano

Highlights:

The location is incredibly rich in history. The Los Rios District is the “oldest neighborhood in California” according to this website featuring info about the homes and historic buildings. 

If you enter the park from the train station, you’ll see lovely black and white historic photographs set into the garden wall.

The playground structure is dark wood with iron accents. You’ll really feel like you’re in the Old West. My kids immediately starting pretending they were at the ranch and trading post.

I absolutely love the REAL children’s saddles atop the telephone pole horses. I have my fingers crossed that no one decides to vandalize them.  It’s such a clever and authentic addition.

We also loved “The Grand Canyon” – our nickname for huge climbing boulders.

The picnic area is covered with a lush trellis of grape vines to shade the picnic tables.  Many of the tables were built to be accessible.

Kids will get a thrill hearing the train rumbling and whistling through the depot.

Pair your trip with nearby Ruby’s “Sky Ranch” Diner and a stroll around the Los Rios Neighborhood to make a day out of it. Or go early and grab coffee at Hidden House Coffee.

Be Aware:

The water feature – a pump with a ramp – used to run in the summer, but the pump part is no longer in operation.

There were a number of adults without children which I observed hanging out near the restroom area. It’s set apart from the playground, but may influence your decision to visit the restrooms at this park with your children.

Open 8am to Sunset.

Checklist:

  • Parking in a small dedicated DIRT lot.
  • Bark play surface
  • Restrooms locked with a key code after hours
  • Two sets of drinking fountains – one near the restrooms and one closer to the playground
  • Little sycamores provide shade for bench area
  • Lots of picnic tables nearby the playground and closer to Paseo Adelanto
  • Easy to see the kids from all viewpoints and plenty of benches
  • Official City of San Juan Capistrano website

brooke

Sunday 5th of February 2017

can you throw a birthday party here on the weekend?

Michele Whiteaker

Monday 6th of February 2017

I try to post a link to the official website for the parks within my park reviews. When you click on the "Official City of San Juan Capistrano website" link above, you will find this info:

"Q: May I have a birthday party at a park in San Juan Capistrano? A: All of the parks in San Juan Capistrano are open to the public; however, groups wanting to host birthday parties at a San Juan Capistrano park are encouraged to complete a park application form. If your group consists of 50 or more persons, you must obtain a permit. There is a fee for obtaining this permit."

I always suggest calling the City to have your question answered.

Jennifer Severson

Thursday 9th of July 2015

I went there today and there was only one saddle. :(

Nicola Cossio

Monday 15th of August 2011

Me and my lovely group of Mummy friends have organised a play date for this Friday based on ideas from your website - we plan to check out this park after we have arrived on the train from Irvine - so we are not only trying a park you have suggested, but we're going the whole hog and doing a train ride too! My son, Samson, is 20 months old and is currently obsessed with trains, so Friday is going to feel like all his birthdays came at once!! Thanks again for being SO helpful to a none local (from England) person - your website is my bible!

Johanna

Saturday 1st of May 2010

Love this park! I wanted to add an update to this review, the water pump feature is now operational. My son and a bunch of other kids were having a blast with it today. A big plus--since it is a pump (not just a faucet) they get a good workout from it!

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