Located at the southern-most part of Orange County, San Clemente, often regarded as the Spanish Village by the Sea, can be your quiet, European getaway that is much closer than you think. Red tiled roofs and white-walled homes line the coastline with a Spanish flair that distinguishes this small beach town from the other coastal cities of Orange County. Established in 1928, San Clemente was the quiet beach town that Ole Hanson had always envisioned for his Spanish village. However, in 1969, it was thrust onto the national stage when President Richard Nixon purchased La Casa Pacifica, an estate which would come to be known as the “Western White House.” Today, locals and visitors alike come to San Clemente in droves in search for the perfect surf spot (Trestles being in the top 50 worldwide), a quiet cafe, or a relaxing stroll amidst breathtaking scenery. So whether you are just passing through or an Orange County native yourself, here are the top five things to do when in the Spanish Village by the Sea.
1. Shop and Dine on Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente High School’s motto is “One Town – One Team,” which truly is a reflection of the small town nature and feeling of San Clemente. Though the city has grown exponentially from its humble origins, it manages to retain the small town charm one might find in a picturesque European village. One of the many reasons for this is the quaint downtown district of Avenida Del Mar. Salt filled air and the faint glow of string light adorned trees will envelope your senses as you stroll down the shop-lined street. Pop in to Backstreet Home Decor if you’re in search of an Old-World tapestry or a piece of fine furniture, and liven up your home with one of the owner, Susan Smith’s custom floral or plant arrangements. After a day of shopping you will be famished, thankfully, there are a number of amazing restaurants on Del Mar that will satisfy your cravings from Mexican to Italian cuisine. One of the restaurants that should get your attention is Nick’s, an American cuisine style restaurant that offers seasonal menus for a fresh and tasty dining experience. With an outside-in dining area that looks out onto Del Mar and a full bar that includes a wide range of beer, wine and signature cocktail offerings, it’s a wonderful place to relax and reminisce on the day’s events.
To learn more about Backstreet Home Decor, you can do so by clicking here, or by calling directly at 949.366.1801. Backstreet Home Decor is located at 103 Avenida Del Mar, 92672.
To view the full Nick’s menu, view different locations, and book a reservation, you can do so by clicking here, or by calling the San Clemente location directly at 949.481.2200. Nick’s San Clemente is located at 213 Avenida Del Mar, 92672.
2. Visit Casa Romantica
Built by Ole Hanson, San Clemente’s founder, as his family home in 1927, Casa Romantica is the embodiment of California history, culture and ecology. Casa Romantica’s mission is to “create a welcoming public place where people of all ages and backgrounds learn about the diversity of life in Orange County and Southern California through programs about the history, culture and ecology of the region.” These programs include craft workshops, classic cinema nights, art exhibits and many more events which are open to the public. While visiting, you should also check out the surrounding gardens. Casa Romantica has provided a Garden Tour Guide of the estate so as to educate its guests on local flora and water conservation. This historical building truly encompasses the California that Hanson had envisioned for himself, his family, and the development of the “Spanish Village by the Sea.”
For more information on the programs and events at Casa Romantica or to give your support, click here , or call directly at 949.498.2139. Casa Romantica is located at 415 Avenida Granada, 92672. General admission is $5 and FREE for members.
3. Relax at a San Clemente Exclusive Café
As a quaint Orange County destination, San Clemente has many of the things you would expect a small beach town to possess. Sometimes, however, you just want to experience something a little unique, something that you cannot find in any other city. Enter Lavender Lounge Tea Company and Bear Coast Coffee, both have fantastic products and no other location. Lavender Lounge has been a San Clemente staple since its establishment in 2002. It partners with only the finest tea importers that have excellent track records for ethical and fair treatment for tea workers worldwide. Lavender Lounge has a wide range of teas to choose from including daily specialty blends that often coincide with the season. But don’t forget to try the choobees, flavored coconut jelly cubes that will sweeten any drink. The San ClemenTea is a signature favorite with a peach apricot Ceylon blend. If craft coffee is more your cup of tea, then head over to Bear Coast Coffee, a multi-roaster café. Think of it as your favorite wine or beer bar with a rotating tap list, but for coffee. With the sense of a “micro-brewery,” Bear Coast Coffee has perfected the flavor profiles of coffee, undermining the longstanding mainstream tradition of masking the flavors with cream and overly sweet syrups. Located across the street from the San Clemente pier, there could not be a better way of starting your day than with a great tasting cup of coffee and a stroll along the water’s edge.
To learn more about the Lavender Lounge Tea Company, click here, or call directly at 949.218.3103. Lavender Lounge is located at 104 N El Camino Real, Set. B, 92672.
To learn more about Bear Coast Coffee or view their merchandise, click here, or call directly at 949.482.0618. Bear Coast Coffee is located at 618 1/2 Avenida Victoria, 92672.
4. Shop ’Til You Drop at the Outlets
After opening just last year, the Outlets at San Clemente are already becoming the hot new shopping destination for affordable luxury. With ocean views and high-end retailers, the Outlets at San Clemente give the quintessential Orange County shopping experience. As the midpoint between San Diego and Los Angeles, the Outlets is the perfect resting destination between the two cities to shop and dine in the Southern California sunshine. With over fifty shops and restaurants, and more to come, the Outlets have everything you need from athletic brands such as Nike to fashion brands like Chico’s and Calvin Klein. Store deals and savings are offered every day, so don’t waste any more time and head on over.
To find more stores and learn about savings and events at the Outlets at San Clemente, click here, or call directly at 949.535.2323. The Outlets are located at 101 West Avenida Vista Hermosa, Suite 190, 92672.
To learn more about the Nike Factory Store, click here, or call directly at 949.498.2138.
To learn more about the Chico’s Outlet, click here, or call directly at 949.456.8350.
To learn more about the Calvin Klein outlet, click here, or call directly at 949.498.2549.
5. Walk, Run or Bike Along the Beach Trail
The Beach Trail is a 2.3 mile coastline trail that connects North Beach to Calafia Beach with stops along the way at the Pier and T-Street. Situated along the San Clemente coastline, the Beach Trail provides the perfect terrain for your transportation mode of choice as you look out onto the ocean’s horizon. The trail is dog-friendly so feel free to bring your furry friend, but be courteous to your fellow trail goers and don’t forget to clean up after them! The stunning views and fresh ocean air will definitely get you motivated to start moving. So grab a coffee and go for a stroll with your bestie or take your pooch and go for a jog, either way, you won’t regret it.
To find out more information on the Beach Trail, click here, or call directly at 949.361.8264. You can find parking at the North Beach trail entrance at 1850 Avenida Estacion, 92672. Parking is metered.