Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in San Clemente, CA

  • Published 2022/07/28

Located just an hour’s drive from the Land of Hollywood, San Clemente is a charming and delightful coastal city in Orange County.

It is located on the California Coast and has pristine white sandy beaches.

This beguiling city is also known for its mountain views and hills.

The slogan of San Clemente is “Spanish Village by the Sea.”

Rightfully so, it has stunning Spanish colonial-style architecture that is worth swooning over.

The coastal city is also famous for surfing and has a rich surfing culture.

San Clemente has perfect weather, too; the city is always full of sunshine and is never too cold.

This laid-back city is a famous tourist destination and does not fail to ever impress people from around the globe.

Here are the best things to do in San Clemente, California:

Visit the Heavenly San Clemente Pier

Daytime view of San Clemente Pier

Alizada Studios /

The San Clemente Pier is the most popular attraction in the city.

It is located at the end of Avenida Del Mar, with a stunning backdrop of miles and miles of blue ocean and white beaches.

The pier has a gorgeous clock tower.

Surfing is a popular activity in San Clemente, and the pier is full of surfers in the summer.

The dock is also famous for fishing.

The view within the San Clemente Pier

Jon Bilous /

There are fantastic seafood restaurants on the pier, where you can eat delicious freshwater fish and oysters, among many other delectable fresh seafood.

There are plenty of benches on the pier where you can sit back and enjoy the breathtaking view of the city and the coast while listening to the peaceful sound of waves crashing onto the shore.

While you’re at the San Clemente Pier, don’t forget to watch a sunrise or a sunset for a divine view.

San Clemente steps to beach and pier

Donald Atkinson /

Eat, Drink, Shop at Avenida Del Mar

Hotel and shops at Avenida Del Mar

Mike Cotter, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in Downtown San Clemente, Avenida Del Mar is the city’s main street, with several eateries, shopping outlets, boutiques, art galleries, wine bars, and more.

It is located just a few minutes away from the San Clemente Pier.

The street is one of the most pleasant main streets in Orange County and is known as the city’s beating heart.

Stroll around Avenida Del Mar, shop till you drop, and have a meal at one of the many nearby restaurants.

You can check out the numerous wine bars in the area and grab a drink.

Bask in Sunshine at San Clemente State Beach

Daytime view of San Clemente State Beach

SunflowerMomma /

Situated at the city’s Southern end, San Clemente State Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Orange County.

The beach is also a popular site for camping and has 160 campsites, including 72 with full hookups.

The campground has impressive facilities like hot showers, picnic areas, an amphitheater, and much more.

Volleyball net at San Clemente State Beach

SunflowerMomma /

San Clemente State Beach is also famous for several recreational activities, including whale watching, surfing, snorkeling, hiking, and many others.

It offers spectacular views of the ocean, hills, and mountains and an environment to relax your body and mind while tanning in California’s golden sunshine.

San Clemente beach view

Jon Bilous /

Stroll around the City and Discover Its Hidden Gems

Road at San Clemente

bonandbon /

Walking is one of the best ways to explore any city.

San Clemente is a tiny and picturesque city, which makes it perfect for exploring it on foot.

Stroll around to take in its scenic glory and discover what it has to offer while gazing at its magnificent Spanish architecture.

View of San Clemente's beach houses

Jon Bilous /

You can discover San Clemente’s little secrets that you wouldn’t have known if you were exploring the city like every other tourist.

Long walks along the palm trees lined boulevard with clean air will instantly refresh your mind and body.

Tour Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

Scenic view of Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

Dawn Damico /

Located along Avenida Granada, Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is a prestigious cultural institution in Orange County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This historical landmark is renowned for its culturally rich music, theater, art, and many more programs.

The cultural center also hosts several free educational arts workshops for children all year round.

The estate covers 2.5 acres of beautiful coastal area with more than 33 tended gardens, which overlook San Clemente Pier and offer sweeping views.

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is the city’s cultural gem and a must-visit attraction in San Clemente.

Witness History at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center

The Surfing Heritage and Culture Center is a non-profit organization that honors the art of surfing.

This treasure trove on Calle Iglesia houses one of the world’s grandest collections of surf archives.

Moreover, it showcases everything related to surfing and its history, including surfboards, photos, videos, literature, and more.

The displays are fascinating, and the staff is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about sharing history with the visitors.

The Surfing Heritage and Culture Center is an incredible place to witness the history and significance of surfing in the Californian culture.

Pay a Visit to North Beach

People swimming at San Clemente North Beach

Anthony Fontanez /

North Beach is the northernmost beach along San Clemente’s coastline.

It boasts stunning views of the vast and beguiling Pacific Ocean.

Sitting on the San Clemente Beach Trail, North Beach has a multi-use trail that offers many recreational activities to visitors.

Those who come to the beach can enjoy scenic walks, go swimming or surfing, cook and have picnics, and much more.

North Beach is a great place to watch sunrises or sunsets.

Play Golf at Talega Golf Club

Located in the hills of San Clemente, Talega Golf Club is one of the best 18-hole golf courses in Southern California.

The club was opened in 2001 and had a village courtyard setting with Spanish colonial architecture, which makes it very pleasing to the eyes.

You can book your tee time in advance.

The golf club also has a restaurant and bar where you can enjoy wholesome foods and drinks after playing golf.

Talega Golf Club’s location is perfect for enjoying the breathtaking view of the city with the ocean breeze flowing through your hair.

Take Your Kids to Courtney’s SandCastle Universal Access Playground & Sensory Garden

Courtney’s SandCastle Universal Access Playground & Sensory Garden is the most famous playground for children to play in San Clemente.

It is a gated park to ensure the safety of the little ones.

The playground has sandboxes, play castles, climbing rocks, and much more.

The grounds are clean and well-maintained, which makes the playground an ideal place for children to have fun.

Courtney’s SandCastle Universal Access Playground & Sensory Garden is located along Avenida Vista Hermosa.

Enjoy the View from the San Clemente Beach Trail

Daytime view of San Clemente Coastal Trail

Wayne Via /

The San Clemente Beach Trail is one of the best places to enjoy the beauty of the ocean and explore San Clemente’s beachline.

It is a 2.3-mile-long trail with a sandy shoreline.

The trail is famous for many activities such as walking, cycling, and running while witnessing the breathtaking Pacific Ocean.

Signage of San Clemente Beach Trail

The Image Party /

You can rent bikes to ride from the nearby Bicycle San Clemente.

You can also walk your pooch along the trail, but only on a leash.

Don’t forget to visit this beautiful place when you’re in the city.

The San Clemente Beach Trail is a great place to enjoy walking along the water on a sunny day.

San Clemente view of trail and railroad

Jon Bilous /

Learn How to Surf at San Clemente Surf School

A surfer at San Clemente Surf School

kesterhu /

Surfing is a must when in San Clemente.

The city has a rich surfing culture and history.

You can learn how to surf at San Clemente Surf School on South El Camino Real.

A little girl learning to surf at San Clemente

SvetlanaSF /

It is a licensed surfing school that teaches beginners how to surf all year round.

You can sign up for the teaching lessons online with experienced and trained surfers.

Stay at One of San Clemente’s Fantastic Hotels

San Clemente from above

Nilda Ludim Alvidrez /

No matter your preferences, you are sure to find an excellent place to stay in San Clemente.

The city has a wide range of hotels, from budget-friendly to luxurious.

Some of the most comfortable hotels in the city are Best Western Plus Casablanca Inn, Sea Horse Resort, San Clemente Inn, The Volare, and Holiday Inn Express.

These hotels are conveniently located, overlooking the ocean, and provide many amenities to make your stay more comfortable.

You can’t go wrong with any of these hotels in San Clemente.

Gobble Down Delicious Food at Antoine’s Cafe

Antoine’s Cafe has been voted The Best of San Clemente for eight consecutive years.

The local cafe serves traditional American breakfast and lunch, complete with vegan and vegetarian-friendly options.

This place is a little gem and has been a staple of San Clemente since 1991.

Antoine’s Cafe serves mouth-watering eggs Benedict, fish tacos, juicy burgers, and much more.

Find this restaurant on South El Camino Real.

Eat Deli Sandwiches at Billy’s Meat, Seafood, and Deli

Located in the heart of San Clemente, Billy’s Meat, Seafood, and Deli is an award-winning deli on Avenida Del Mar.

It serves delicious deli sandwiches made from in-house cured meat, fresh seafood, cannolis, wraps, specialty wines, and much more.

The deli has excellent service with an even more incredible staff.

Don’t forget to eat the tremendous homemade sandwiches when you visit this eatery.

At Billy’s Meat, Seafood, and Deli, you can dine in or purchase goods to enjoy at home.

Drink Beer at Artifex Brewing Company

Do you love sampling locally crafted beers when traveling?

Artifex Brewing Company is a small brewery in San Clemente, serving the best beer in the city.

They serve a wide variety of beers, and if you’re a beginner, you can ask the friendly staff for advice on which beer to try.

The brewery almost always has a food truck outside, so you can enjoy your beer with some delicious Californian grub to make the experience much more enjoyable.

You can find Artifex Brewing Company on Calle Amanecer.

Devour Cheese and Wine at The Cellar

Located on Avenida Del Mar, The Cellar serves impressive artisanal cheeses and fantastic wines.

The restaurant’s menu mainly consists of traditional American food.

Vegan and vegetarian options are available here as well.

On several occasions, you can enjoy live music performances while savoring your wine and cheese.

The Cellar also hosts many events all year round for locals and tourists.

Eat Rich Desserts at Sugar Blossom Bake Shop

Is a meal ever complete without dessert?

Sugar Blossom Bake Shop is located along Avenida Del Mar.

It is a real gem run by a friendly couple and prepares terrific desserts with the highest quality ingredients.

The bakery also makes amazingly designed cakes for marriages and other events.

Sugar Blossom Bake Shop is chic and beautiful, with bright colors showcasing the sweet delights.

Stroll around the Outlets at San Clemente

Welcome sign of Outlets at San Clemente

The Image Party /

Situated along West Avenida Vista Hermosa, the Outlets at San Clemente houses various upscale dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

This fantastic outdoor shopping complex is home to over 45 businesses and occupies 500,000 square feet.

It also boasts lovely beach views and a range of luxurious services and facilities.

Modern conveniences like free high-speed WiFi, pet-friendly cleaning stations, indoor parking, and more are available to customers.

The Outlets at San Clemente offers the perfect shopping experience, whether you’re shopping alone, with family, or with friends.

Have Dinner at Vine Restaurant & Bar

Vine Restaurant & Bar features an open kitchen, a semi-private dining table that can be reserved for special occasions, a rustic, modern wine bar, and an outstanding Wine Country dining experience.

Top-notch, fresh ingredients that are in season are cooked every day from scratch.

A broad range of meal options is offered at Vine Restaurant & Bar, including notable meats, tasty seafood, hand-picked local produce, and an extensive range of international wines.

Several beverage options, including craft beers, specialty artisan cocktails, and over 25 different types of wine by the glass from across the world.

Come to this restaurant along North El Camino Real and savor high-quality food and drinks.

Relax and Read Books at San Clemente Public Library

Are you a book lover looking for inexpensive things to do nearby?

If you are, stop by San Clemente Public Library along Avenida Del Mar.

The San Clemente Public Library has state-of-the-art facilities and a library with dozens of books.

High-speed internet, numerous computers, relaxing lounging areas, a warm atmosphere, and other features can be enjoyed here.

Take time reading various books it has, relaxing on a couch while you fill up on reading, or unwinding on your own at the San Clemente Library.

Feel the Breeze at T-Street Beach

Sunset over T-Street Beach

Donald Atkinson /

T-Street Beach, sometimes referred to as Esplanade Beach, is a popular stretch of shoreline for water sports.

Enjoying a wonderful beach vacation on this breathtaking coastline is only one of the many entertaining things to do in San Clemente.

Numerous concessionaires offer a wide variety of goods and delectable delights.

T-Street Beach also has picnic tables, biking and walking paths, and many more facilities.

Visitors can go surfing or bodyboarding, have a lovely picnic with their friends, swim in the cold ocean, and enjoy many other exciting activities here.

Shop at Rainbow Sandals Factory Outlet

Located on Calle de Los Molinos, Rainbow Sandals Factory Store is a popular retail location that locals and tourists patronize for its timeless flip-flops.

The surf-themed store offers leather and rubber slippers for shoppers of all ages.

It is close to many great restaurants, shopping areas, and other well-known sights.

It is also quite accessible.

Spend a few minutes at this retail location to purchase expertly produced rubber and leather flip-flops as presents for yourself or your family back home.

After that, visit a neighboring restaurant to sample delectable cuisine, browse the local boutique stores, or visit other exciting tourist sites.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Make a Stop at San Onofre State Beach

Sunset view from San Onofre State Beach

WJ Media Design /

The 3,000-acre San Onofre State Beach is located just three miles south of San Clemente.

It is the perfect place for cycling, swimming, kayaking, surfing, fishing, sunbathing, and many other activities.

Surfer riding the San Onofre State Beach waves

Nagel Photography /

Visitors also enjoy camping here.

San Onofre State Beach is situated on the Californian coastal line and overlooks the majestic Pacific Ocean.

The white sandy beach is perfect for relaxing while enjoying the blue sea and its glorious waves.

Entrance to San Onofre State Beach's secret beach

Colleen Fonseca /

Final Thoughts

San Clemente, sometimes referred to as the Spanish Village by the Sea, has a ton of tourist attractions to entertain you and your friends.

Enjoy various activities in this seaside city, including boutique shopping, dining at fantastic restaurants, and visiting various outdoor sites.

Grab your things and prepare for an exciting trip to this coastal destination.

Have fun ticking off everything on this list of things to do in San Clemente, California!

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