Famed for its Spanish Colonial architecture, San Clemente attracts vacationers with its dramatic views and powerful winds. Bounded by a steep bluff, San Clemente State Beach offers an escape for visitors looking to surf, hike or just set up camp. Head to the “Pier Bowl”, with its unique restaurants and shops. San Clemente Pier offers a chance to relax and enjoy your surroundings, with incredible views of the coast.
The San Clemente Pier and beach is the best place to begin exploring. Plan time for sunbathing, reading a book, swimming, swinging the kids on the beach swings, having a picnic overlooking the beach, or dining on the pier. Visit San Clemente today! Visit here for a list of all the great beaches of southern California.
Weather – When to Visit San Clemente
During the spring (March – May) humidity and temperatures combine to make this season feel moderate. Highs range between 72.6°F and 60°F with similar temperatures in the later months. Spring (June – August) is the second busiest for tourism, which makes it a good time for those looking for things to do. June – August is the busiest season for tourism in San Clemente, so lodging and other accommodations may cost more than usual. September – November have daily highs between 78.1°F and 66.9°F. Tourism is fairly slow during these months due to the weather, so hotels will be slightly less expensive. During December – February, weather is somewhat cool. The average high during this season is between 68.2°F and 62.7°F.
What Should You Pack?
When figuring out what to pack for the beach, there are two tips to keep in mind. First, forgetting an item isn’t the end of the world. Unless you’re heading for a remote, deserted island, chances are you can find a store where you can pick up the extras. Second, don’t stress out over making a packing list when there’s a stress-free beach travel essentials list for you below:
- Sunglasses and hats offer much-needed sunscreen and flip flops are perfect for navigating hot, sandy beaches. Go pack them now so you’re not kicking yourself later.
- What about those little items that make beach visits so much more enjoyable? For a little extra comfort on your trip, make sure you pack: Lip balm, sunscreen, bug spray.
- Beach toys and goggles are a must for kids. Building sandcastles and viewing the underwater wonders are perennial favorites.
- Take a first-aid kit with you. Hopefully you’ll only have to worry about a few minor scrapes from seashells, but having your own kit handy is a good precaution.
- Beach Bag – Your beach bag will likely contain a few of the items mentioned above. For a well-rounded bag, consider tossing in sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray, first-aid kit and water-proof baggies.
- Beach Gear – No matter who’s supplying the gear, look to have the following items on hand: beach bag, beach chairs, beach towels, beach umbrella or tent, beach cart and a cooler.
- Remember: Don’t wait until you’re parched to drink. When you’re out in the heat and sun, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking regularly. So take along a water bottle as well.
San Clemente Surf Beaches
San Onofre State Beach
Dubbed “San-O” by the locals, San Onofre State Beach is perhaps the only place in the world where you can drive your car onto the beach and catch waves within sight of a (now closed) nuclear power plant. The beach has cinder block changing rooms and bathrooms. It also has open showers inside bamboo grottos for purging the salt and sand from you and your gear. Keep in mind that this beach has great waves for beginners on long boards, and everyone knows about it, so…it gets crowded! Join the dawn patrol to avoid the snaking line of cars that builds up outside the parking lot every weekend. Go here for a list of the best surfing beaches in California.
Doheny State Beach
Though technically located in Capo Beach beyond the northern-border of San Clemente, this is one of the best beginner surfing beaches around. The small waves and long breaks are ideal for long boards and allow many surfers to catch the same wave (and it’s expected at this beginner spot). As an added bonus, it’s a short walk to the water–You can see the parking lot from where you’re floating. Go here for a list of the best surfing beaches in California.
This is a family oriented beach (complete with playground) that caters to bodysurfers and bodyboarders and even has its own restaurant, North Beach Burger, open during the summer. With ample parking and maintained restrooms, this is a good spot to consider whether you are surfing for the first time or just want to hang out. If you head south along the strand, you will come to a break known as 204. This is another popular spot, though its conditions are often in flux due to the changing nature of the sand bars that create the breaks. Go here for a list of the best surfing beaches in California.
Trestles is known as a world-class surf spot. It’s not recommended for beginners, but it is recommended as a spot where you can learn a lot about surfing simply by watching. The main spots are Church, Lowers, Middles, Uppers and Cottons. Walk from one end of the beach to the other and observe how each of these spots changes the character of the waves, and where surfers line up at each. There is a lot that you can learn at Trestles with this simple strategy, and you will take home ideas that you can try in your own surfing. Go here for a list of the best surfing beaches in California.
San Clemente Pier North
If you’re looking for a conveniently located break, you’ll find one at the north side of the San Clemente Pier. Park at the lot off of Avenida Del Mar and you have arrived. The swell can get aggressive here, so be sure to pick a day when the waves are manageable for your skill level. Go here for a list of the best surfing beaches in California.
San Clemente Attractions
San Clemente Pier
San Clemente Pier is an icon of the city and one of the best spots to visit. A great place to dine, watch a sunset, enjoy the beach, and more. Dine on the pier at Fisherman’s which has stunning views of the ocean and San Clemente beach. The beach surrounding the pier are perfect for relaxing in the sun, grilling, or having a bonfire at night. Walk to Casa Romantica for an inexpensive hostircal tour and amazing view of the San Clemente Pier.
Dana Point Harbor
The Dana Point Harbor offers specialty shopping, fishing and whale watching excursions, kayaking, Catalina transportation, and a variety of restaurants from coffee shops to fine waterfront dining. Across the bridge to Dana Island, more walking paths lead to yacht clubs, a restaurant and a continuation of the quiet waterside parkways.
San Clemente Beach Coastal Trail
The San Clemente Beach Coastal Trail is a 2.3 mile long trail with access to the uninterrupted sandy shoreline of San Clemente in Orange County. This wide dirt path is popular with cyclists, walkers, and runners. Beach goers can park at any of the beaches along the route to access the beaches.
Casa Romantica Coastal Center
Casa Romantica has developed a reputation for wide-ranging cultural programming, including music, art, dance, theater, horticulture, and a lecture series that bring international talent to south Orange County. Casa Romantica’s estate, gardens, and exhibition galleries are open to the public daily during our normal hours.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano, historic landmark and museum, is the Birthplace of Orange County. It is a monument to California’s multi-cultural history, embracing its Native American, Spanish, Mexican and European heritage.
Things to do in San Clemente
Reel to Reef Charters
Mark Austin, former professional surfer, licensed captain and avid fisherman offers surfing and fishing adventures through Reel to Reef Charters! Join them on fishing trips for Yellow Fin Tuna, Yellowtail, Dorado, Albacore, Blue Fin, Halibut, Rock Fish, Barracuda, Bonita, and Calico Bass! Telephone: 949-842-3093 Web: Reel to Reef Charters
Dana Point Parasail
Welcome to Dana Point Parasailing! Want to parasail off Doheny State Beach? You’ve come to the right place! They’re located in Dana Point Harbor right off the 5 freeway and Pacific Coast Highway. Telephone: 949-877-9822 Web: Dana Point Parasail
369 SURF Board rentals ,private lessons, surf school, beach gear, wax, wet suits, SUP’s, body boards, online surf shop local delivery service w/guided tours of south orange county & San Diego. Telephone: 949-369-7873 Web: 369 Surf
Dana Wharf Whale Watching & Sportfishing
Delight in the exciting sights and sounds of the magnificent ocean creatures off Dana Point. Known as a landmark for marine life sightings, Dana Wharf’s ocean adventure cruises offer a rare glimpse into a huge variety of underwater wildlife and gorgeous scenic views you’ll never forget! Telephone: 1 800-590-9994 Web: Dana Wharf Whale Watching & Sportfishing
San Clemente Surf Board Rentals
For the ultimate southern california surfing experience. Go with a local surf guide to all the best point break, reef break and beach breaks this area has to offer. Guaranteed fun waves from San Clemente to San Diego or wherever you desire . Telephone: 1 888-995-1288 Web: San Clemente Surf Board Rentals
Small Group Napa Wine Tour w/Castello di Amoroso & Lunch
Pamper yourself at three prestigious Napa wineries, including Castello Di Amorosa and Robert Mondavi. On this day trip from San Francisco you are chauffeured to the Napa Valley by luxury minibus. Make it a romantic getaway or travel with family and friends during a relaxing ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. Numbers are limited for a small-group experience with your guide. Read more about Small Group Napa Wine Tour or Book Now.
Best San Clemente Restaurants
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
VINE is an all-encompassing Wine Country dining experience, a full bar, featuring craft cocktails, Open Kitchen, and a Semi-Private Dining table in their Wine Room. It offers South Orange County residents and visitors a fine dining night out with a complete food and wine experience. Telephone:
949-361-2079 Web: Vine
$$ – $$4 Nick’s San Clemente
Great food, and warm hospitality. Whether you are looking for a fireside cocktail or a dinner with friends, their carefully chosen menu of sandwiches, steaks, salads, seafood, and handcrafted beverages has a variety of choices to satisfy any appetite. Telephone: 949-481-2200 Web: Nick’s San Clemente
$$ – $$$ MRK Public
Founded by three local chefs, MRK Public is everything you want in a local, casual, approachable gastro-pub. This family-friendly restaurant serves up the freshest ingredients, in chef-inspired dishes, with hand-selected craft beer and an excellent wine list. Telephone: 949-441-7621 Web: MRK Public
$$ – $$$ Fig@313
Fig@313 will tempt your taste buds with exquisite New American cuisine. Their Executive Chef has created a fresh and diverse menu unlike any you’ve experienced before, combining classical cuisine with a modern, sophisticated presentation. Seasonal dishes highlight the freshest ingredients of the moment. Telephone: 949-218-4406 Web: Fig@313
$$$$ Interactive Dinner in a Chef’s Private Kitchen
You and your guests will be welcomed by Chef Mashav to her kitchen and dining space to enjoy a private dinning experience. Interact and engage in the cooking process, ask questions, look what’s in the pots and pans, all while sipping your drink and enjoying hors d’oeuvres. Then you’ll be seated at the table in the formal dining room to a enjoy a full 4 course dinner of your choice. Read more about the interactive dinner or book now.
Best San Clemente Nightlife
South of Nick’s
Creative Mexican classics, a “kicking” bar scene, an elite list of sipping tequilas all set within a beautiful historic Spanish Colonial abode. Telephone: 949-481-4545 Web: South of Nick’s
Pierside Kitchen + Bar is beach bistro located just steps from the water in downtown San Clemente’s “Pier Bowl.” Pierside offers fresh cuisine, an upscale atmosphere with an unbeatable view and great hospitality. Visit our fun, cozy bar and sample our creative craft libations, great wines, and micro brews on tap. Telephone: 949-218-0980 Web: Pierside
Dine on the pier and watch beach goers, surfing, and the sunset as you enjoy American seafood selections. Sit over the beach, listen to the sea sounds, watch the surfers, and eat great food. Telephone: 949-498-6390 Web: Fisherman’s Restaurant
Goody’s Tavern is a great place to relax, hang out with your friends and watch your favorite sports games on one of the six 60” TV’s. Challenge your friends to a game of darts, Golden Tee or a game of pool on one of their regulation size pool tables. Drink specials, free raffles and complimentary food a few reason why you don’t want to miss football Sundays at Goody’s. Telephone: 949-492-3400 Web: Goody’s Tavern
This place is like family. You walk in and know everyone! Strong and cheap drinks you just cant go wrong!! Bartenders are great. Awesome jukebox and on Tuesday they have free tacos with a purchase of a drink. Telephone: 949-498-9400 Web: Ole’s Tavern
Best San Clemente Hotels
When you stay here at the The Volarè Resort, you don’t just get the best hotel location in town, you get much more. With a variety of room types all providing a wide selection of pillows paired with our pillow-top mattresses and luxurious linens you will get a great night’s rest. Wake up to their complimentary breakfast, where you then will be ready to explore the beautiful downtown shops and beach. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit The Volare.
Holiday Inn Express San Clemente
This San Clemente, California hotel is easily accessible from local attractions and provides a free daily hot breakfast buffet. Guest accommodations are furnished with many modern conveniences, including microwaves and mini-refrigerators. The hotel also offers free wireless internet access as well as an outdoor swimming pool and modern fitness center. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Holiday Inn Express San Clemente.
Hampton Inn & Suites San Clemente
Make yourself at home in one of the 69 air-conditioned rooms featuring refrigerators and LCD televisions. Cable programming and DVD players are provided for your entertainment, while complimentary wireless Internet access keeps you connected. Bathrooms have complimentary toiletries and hair dryers. Conveniences include desks and microwaves, as well as phones with free local calls. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Hampton Inn & Suites San Clemente.
Travelodge by Wyndham San Clemente
Whether you are our guest for just one night or an extended stay, this hotel offers comfortable accommodations at a great price. After each day of adventure, relax in guest rooms with free WiFi, a microwave, refrigerator and an in-room safe. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the Travelodge by Wyndham San Clemente.
San Clemente Inn
This hotel offers three styles of rooms to fit everyone’s needs. Their rooms are newly remodeled to offer a memorable experience whether it’s your first visit to the inn or you’ve been here before. They have rooms to accommodate groups of all sizes, such as the Crest suite for six and the economical studio for two. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit the San Clemente Inn.