Best Historic Neighborhood - 2008
Los Rios Historic District
As surprising as it may seem given that much of Orange County is obscenely planned and not that old, the oldest neighborhood in all of California sits in the heart of South County. Tiny streets and venerable homes—even the adobe houses in which the builders of the Mission San Juan Capistrano lived—all line the historic Los Rios District, just across the train tracks on Los Rios Street in San Juan Capistrano. If you're looking for the oldest homes, meander down narrow Los Rios and begin with the three adobes of about 40 that were built around 1794. The Montanez adobe is open to the public, and Rios family members still live in the Rios adobe, making it the oldest continuously occupied home in the West. A little creepy but worth visiting is the old jail cell parked next to the Montanez adobe. Make your way down Verdugo Street to the Hummingbird Cottage, built around 1865. It was a candy shop in the 1920s, and before then, the local constable housed prisoners in the back building on the weekends. You can get more on the history of the street at the rustic O'Neill Museum in the center of the district.