San Clemente, fondly called Spanish Village by the Sea, sits midway between San Diego and Los Angeles in Orange County, California. Best known for scenic mountain and ocean views, San Clemente is notable for Spanish Colonial architecture. The location is clandestine, tucked away from large crowds and noisy traffic. A visit unveils an interesting waterfront and backdrop filled with green spaces, a mile-long beach backed by sandstone bluffs, myriad trail networks, and plenty of things to do for vacationing families. The beach lifestyle is predominant here and throughout Orange County. Recreational activities abound by land and sea including surfing, which is the main local sport.
First settled by Native Indians, the San Clemente community changed when the San Juan Capistrano mission settled in 1776 by both Spaniards and Native Indians who built surrounding villages. Ole Hanson – former Mayor of Seattle- bought and redesigned the area land into a retirement community in 1925, transforming it into a coastal resort. San Clemente’s history was popularized mostly because of Nixon’s time spent there; he purchased a historic San Clemente Spanish-style mansion peering over San Onofre and Trestles and coined The Western White House. Nixon eventually retired, settled in and penned his memoirs. The original owner, H.H. Cotton, was said to have hosted President Roosevelt several times.
The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum offers resources for kids, teachers and the general public through several mediums including a virtual library filled with document collections, White House tapes, recordings, online exhibits, and photo galleries.
The Museum in Yorba Linda, California is set on nine sprawling acres and is open to the public for tours. It is popular and a common stop for families on route to nearby Disneyland, less than 20 minutes away. President Nixon’s birthplace is on site along with his helicopter. The exhibitions at the museum include rotating galleries, vintage campaign reels, a Lincoln Sitting Room replica from the White House, a model of the Nixon’s post presidential home office in New Jersey, and the limousine used by Nixon, Johnson, and Ford.
San Clemente Beach boasts more than 20 acres of clean soft sand fronted by some of the best year-round surfing conditions on the coast. The beaches draw surfers looking for prime swells in San Clemente in surf spots including Trestles, Onofre, and Dohney. Glassy and smooth, the morning ocean offers a good time to get on the water with a fairly strong breeze blowing onshore around noon and continuing into the evening. Clemente waves vary from completely flat to roughly 2x overhead (9-10 feet). The bigger storms bring in the best swells; once the storm clouds roll in, so do the surfers to enjoy the aftermath the ocean throws at them. Southerly and southwesterly swells move into shore from Mexico’s seasonal hurricanes in the summer months offering excellent surfing. Northern-based storms push swell once winter arrives. This time of year is the least hopeful wih other coastal areas providing better conditions than San Clemente because of the location; Catalina Island is nearby blocking out some of the waves coming in to the south-facing beach. Many surfers take advantage of the area’s mild weather and stay in a local campground or in one of many rustic beach cottages found along the shore.
San Clemente Hotels & Lodging
San Clemente Hotels & Lodging
There about a dozen hotel and motel options in San Clemente. Beginning o the south side are choices closest to San Onofre State Beach off the San Diego Freeway. Heading north, there are hotels both off the highway on the east side and closer to the ocean on the west. These include several well-known chain hotels and the Sea Horse Resort (pictured) and Villa Del Mar where full suites with kitchenettes, high speed wireless internet, private parking, and ocean views are available.