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San Clemente California
Beach Vacation Guide

San Clemente State Beach

San Clemente California is one of the nicest Southern California beach towns to visit. It is an idyllic town which even has palm trees on the beach!

This small beach community is built on hillsides overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Richard Nixon had his west coast home here from about 1969 to 1979. It was called La Casa Pacifica and sits over a bluff.

The charming little village of shops and restaurants has a weekly farmer’s market and monthly art fair are additional things to enjoy. Located south of Dana Point, it is about an hour’s drive south to San Diego and 75 minute drive north to Los Angeles, depending on traffic.

The Beaches Of San Clemente

The city beach includes the San Clemente Pier. Nearby are picnic tables and volleyball nets. A few eating establishments provide nourishment for the hungry swimmers, surfers and other beach goers.

San Clemente beach with palm trees and palapas

San Clemente State Beach is lined with cliffs and the sand is narrow, giving the beach a secluded feeling. Two trails lead to the beach from the parking area.

Calafia Beach sits between the city and state beaches, and is much wider than the latter, so there is more room for volleyball and sunbathing. There is also a snack shack and restrooms here.

Train tracks parallel San Clemente beach, so the Metrolink, Amtrak, or summer beach train roars through periodically, waking sunbathers from dozing too long.

The San Clemente Pier

This municipal pier in San Clemente California is also the site of a train station. The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and the Metrolink both stop here -- very convenient for beachgoers! The pier is also the site of various annual events. More on San Clemente events and festivals.

Other Attractions

On the first Sunday of every month except January, there is a Village Art Fair held downtown on Ave Del Mar. It's a nice way to spend the morning, perusing the various booths filled with arts, crafts, and other things for sale.

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is an historical estate located on a bluff overlooking the ocean. They offer various cultural programs, but are also open to visitors. The address is 415 Avenida Granada and they are open Tuesday through Thursday 11 to 4, Friday through Sunday 11 to 2, and Mondays closed.

Where To Stay


Click here for special hotel deals on Tripadvisor

Some of the local hotels include:

  • the Casa Tropicana Inn
  • the Holiday Inn
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • Hotel Miramar and 
  • the San Clemente Inn 

See more accommodation options such as resorts, hotels, motels and bed and breakfast inns in the area.

Search vacation rentals here.


For those who like to camp, there are three main options:

  • San Clemente State Beach
  • Bluffs Campground and 
  • San Mateo Campground.  

The latter two are at San Onofre State Beach. Click here to find out more about camping in San Clemente.

Getting There

North San Clemente Train StationNorth Train Station at San Clemente

By car: Heading south on Interstate 5, get off on Ave. Palizada, go right on E. Ave. Palizada, then left on N El Camino Real (downtown San Clemente), then right on Avenida del Mar and on to Avenida Victoria for the pier. If heading north from San Diego, get off on Avenida Presidio and go left, then go right on S El Camino Real, then third left on Avenida Del Mar, and on to Avenida Victoria to the pier.

By train: The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner stops at the San Clemente Pier Station and goes north to San Luis Obispo and south to San Diego. The Metrolink stops at the North San Clemente Station at 1850 Avenida Estacion, but also has limited service at the San Clemente Municipal Pier station. The Metrolink Orange County Line stops here on it's way between Oceanside and Los Angeles Union Station. The Orange County/Inland Empire Line stops here on it's way between Oceanside and San Bernardino.

Affiliate Disclosure: Some links on this page may go to the TripAdvisor website, where I will gain a small commission if you click certain links within their website. However, I wouldn't link to that site if I didn't think it would be useful and interesting as a supplement to this site.

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