San Clemente is adored by California locals and visitors alike for a myriad of reasons. It’s long coastal stretch is well-endowed with Spanish architectural features, verdant parks, and views of the sea and marine life. Situated midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, its ideal location is proximal to all the other small seaside towns of Orange County, making it an excellent day trip for Orange County enthusiasts. If you’re visiting soon, keep reading… Because this guide brings you some of the best things to do in San Clemente!
Always remember to double-check dates, opening times, and weather conditions before traveling.
There is a large selection of incredible San Clemente attractions available for perusal in both the forms of historical exhibits and cultural centers alike, as well as in the raw and exciting natural scenery which surrounds a whole host of piers, campsites, parks, and nature trails.
Top Things To Do In San Clemente CA
San Clemente Pier
San Clemente Pier was originally intended for both fishing and pleasure, but now it is a homebase for Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar, and probably on of the most typical places to visit in San Clemente.
This pier is perpendicularly constructed in conjunction with San Clemente Beach Trail, which extends all the way from North Beach to Califia. Eating on the pier and watching as the waves break just below is simply mesmerizing. One individual reported having seen a sea lion eating a crab!
The view of the sun setting is spectacular from here as well. This visit is one of the most romantic things to do in San Clemente with your better half!
San Clemente Public Library
The San Clemente Public Library boasts an excellent selection of books. The great material offered here is located only a short jaunt away from the pier. There is a comfortable and cozy lobby area in the library as well as a grassy area outside for hanging out.
The library is just a quick walk away from San Clemente’s downtown area. There is also a library bookstore which sells books that form a perfect reflection to the tastes of the local community, who regularly donates books to raise money for the library.
Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center
Looking for original stuff to do in San Clemente? Check the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center. This is an excellent place to check out to learn about the way the surfboard has evolved over the years. The history of surfing is covered in a comprehensive and interesting but digestible way.
Four different exhibits pop up here over the course of any given year. There are many beautiful artifacts to see here (no pun intended); some of the artifacts featured include historical wave craft, surf art, and other remarkable surf culture-related items. There is also a small gift shop on-site.
You can even check their website before your trip to discover the current events.
San Clemente Beach Park
This is a unique beach in that there is a railroad track located close to the beach, and campers are invited to stay on the beach as well. The calming ocean air will breathe new rejuvenating life into the visitors of this Pacific Ocean spot.
Book a few nights to camp here, and you may be surprised by the ease and loveliness provided for by the amenities, such as on-site showers. It’s also been noted by some that this is a great beach for power-walking, sitting on the beach, and people-watching/sightseeing. There are even wooden-structures that provide shade along the tops of all the picnic tables located at each campsite. There is also a trail that will beeline you straight down from the campsites to the beach.
The Sea Summit Trail
This hiking trail provides excellent views of sunlit vistas, overlooking the ocean. The trail itself is in great shape and has newly-renovated portions made out of decomposed granite. There are several markers along the trail providing messages about the environment and other trail info.
There are also several benches along the trail as well. The hike curves through multiple million dollar homes and then opens up to a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The paths are great for both taking the kids and getting some good exercise all while catching sights of the breaking waves.
San Onofre State Beach
Providing hookups for RVs with nearby facilities for showers, this is a perfect campsite for both “glamping” and traditional tent camp settings alike. The San Onofre State Beach is often dotted with surfers barbecuing at the end of lengthy days spent at the beach. The gorgeous beach is clean and the people who visit it tend to be very friendly and laid back.
We suggest you to get here earlier to avoid long lines to get to the beach/campsites. Some have even said that surfing here is the best in the States aside from Hawaii. And even for those not planning on surfing it’s considered “a must-see” spot for all.
San Clemente Downtown District
Among the unmissable things to see in San Clemente, check the hidden rocks painted by local artists. They dot the scenery of the San Clemente Downtown District. Gorgeous Spanish architectural designs add to the charm of the lovely promenades.
There are many live music, fine dining, and boutique-shopping areas. There is an eclectic mix of small shops to choose fro. Something quite refreshing for those used to large department stores and name brand findings. There’s even a free trolley that runs through downtown.
Take a stroll up and down the main drags, and you will come across the plenteous little treasures. Some of these are shops, wonderful eats, and ocean views a little to the west at the San Clemente Pier.
Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens
The Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is an endearing site, especially for those intrigued by the large spectrum of cultural programs offered by the center. Some of which include numerous international talents, lecture series, music, art, dance, theater, and horticulture.
Casa Romantica is one of those must places to see in San Clemente. It’s exhibition rooms, gardens, and estate are open on a regular basis to the public free of admission costs. The center is in a 7 bedroom mansion that dates back to the 1920s. There is also a magnificent view of the San Clemente Pier and surrounding oceanic scapes.
The very well-informed staff members will during select periods provide tours of the home for merely $5. The home once belonged to Ole Hanson, the founder of San Clemente. There are also historical exhibits detailing aspects of some nearby cities, including Venice and Huntington Beach. You can find details for the visit here.
As you can see, the area offers are plenty of interesing things to see. All these attractions make San Clemente an excellent getaway spot on the Pacific Coast.