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Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano

Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano

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.

Directions to Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano: Exit Interstate 5 at Ortega Highway. Head towards the San Juan Capistrano Mission and continue on 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. This is a great illustration of how my map markers work better than an navigation system. You need to park off Paseo Adelanto – NOT Los Rios Street which is mostly for pedestrians and you will be really embarrassed if you are accidentally driving on that street! (Park Address: 31791 Los Rios St, San Juan Capistrano) MAP to Los Rios Park in San Juan Capistrano


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. They have withstood wear & tear and the city is good about replacing 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. There is another set of picnic tables on your way from the park into the Los Rios Historic District.

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

Pair your trip with nearby Heritage Barbecue 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.

There are two baby swings and two bench swings at this playground.

Many are happy to know there are restrooms nearby.

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.

Make sure you accompany your children to the restrooms at any park!

If you plan to picnic, you might want to bring a little whisk broom and/or tablecloth because at certain times of year, the grapes drop onto the tables. Easy to brush them off!

Open 8am to Sunset.


  • Parking in a small dedicated DIRT lot. Or just past the playground they opened a big NEW 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
  • Sycamores provide shade for bench area
  • Lots of picnic tables nearby the playground and closer to Paseo Adelanto, as well as right in between the park and Los Rios Street
  • Easy to see the kids from all viewpoints and plenty of benches
  • Official City of San Juan Capistrano park info

This is the 2nd picnic area just outside the park:

Wanted to leave in this “historic” photo of when Los Rios Park playground was first installed. The grape trellis hadn’t grown in yet and the sycamores are small. There’s lots more shade these days!

Then (looks empty):

Now (so lush):

Originally published in 2009.


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!


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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