Field trip: The Ecology Center

Location: 32701 Alipaz St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Type of trip: educational, nature immersive, playful!

A few years ago, we started a tradition of “field trip Friday.” We like to stay local on the weekends, ideally not even getting in the car. Friday is a chance to bust the bubble for us, strike out big, and make it home before the popular activities get a little crazy on the weekend days.

We discovered The Ecology Center on a different field trip a few years ago. We went to San Juan Capistrano for Zoomars, and I wanted to stop by this regenerative farm I saw on Google maps. When we arrived, I was blown away by the beauty. Each visit since, I’m continually amazed by the growth and creativity I witness at The Ecology Center.

We’ve become a part of their Nourishing Neighbors program, which offers organic, farm fresh produce and prepared meals to neighbors currently experiencing food insecurity. I highly recommend supporting the farm in general and this effort in particular.

In April and May of this year, The Ecology Center offered You-Pick Strawberry tours. The girls and I missed our chance when week 1 was rained out, but we were able to make our way down last week. My-oh-my, of course the farm itself has expanded since we were last there in January. But, even moreso, the strawberry pick was the best we’ve ever done!

We visited playhouse stations with binoculars for gazing onto the fields. We stopped by investigation stations with magnifiers to look a little closer at some beans. And, we made seed bombs right on site.

Seed bomb making
Playhouse gazing … there was a lot of imaginative play that happened in this tiny house!

We were then ushered to the fields to pick. The strawberries have gone straight into our bellies ever since, even inspiring a strawberry shortcake meal. (The kids didn’t want their chicken and creamed corn, but they gobbled up their dessert! Some days, you just call it a win when you know it’s scratch-made with decent ingredients, albeit with a bit too much sugar.)

I was able to edit the recipe linked below to just 2 tbsp sugar for strawberries and none for the whipped cream – when I make homemade whipped cream I NEVER add sugar, because it’s always going on something sweet! You don’t miss the sugar.

We’ve returned to San Juan Capistrano many times a year since 2020, visiting the Mission, the Historic Los Rios area, and The Ecology Center. We love eating lunch at Ellie’s Table at least once a visit.

I look forward to sharing more of our favorite field trips as they happen. The little bit of extra effort to shake things up always feeds our souls. If you have a favorite day trip in the Los Angeles / Southern California area, I’d love to hear about it!

Note: I leave my children’s faces out of photos in an effort to protect their privacy since they are too young to consent to these shares. I do my best to always eliminate their faces throughout my website.