San Clemente

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San Clemente is a coastal city in Orange County, California, United States. The population was 64,857 at the 2018 census. Located on the California Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, the southernmost city of Orange County is known for its ocean, hill, and mountain views, a pleasant climate and its Spanish colonial-style architecture. San Clemente’s city slogan is “Spanish Village by the Sea”. The official city flower is the bougainvillea, and the official city tree is the coral. San Clemente is also the southernmost city in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Known as the “Spanish Village by the Sea”, San Clemente has long been known for its Spanish style architecture. Downtown San Clemente restaurants and shops are adorned with red tile roofs, cream stucco walls, and dark wood doors and windows. The historic “North Beach” area is home to San Clemente’s Casino Building and Ole Hanson Beach Club, which were renovated in 2010 and 2016. The homes in the area range in style, but stick to the Spanish theme for the most part. The area’s oldest homes are in Southwest San Clemente, directly south of downtown and “North Beach” area, directly north of downtown. The homes in the Southwest Riviera neighborhood include several new constructions in the Cape Cod style, as well as new modern residences. The more traditional, older homes sit in the Lasuen “boot” district. The neighborhood surrounding Lasuens or “Lost Winds” beach is characterized by a variety of styles in both single and double story fashion, with the traditional Spanish style sprinkled throughout, crafting an eclectic atmosphere. The renovations to historic buildings in North Beach have sparked a revival in the area, attracting new residents and business owners.

San Clemente Homes

Living in San Clemente

Early colonization
Prior to colonization by Spaniards, the area was inhabited by the Juaneño people. It remained virtually uninhabited until 1776, when Mission San Juan Capistrano was established by Father Junipero Serra, which led both Native Americans and Spanish settlers to establish villages nearby. After the founding of Mission San Juan Capistrano, local natives were conscripted to work for the mission.

Becoming a city
Property rights to the land exchanged hands several times, but few ventured to build on it until 1925, when former Mayor of Seattle, Ole Hanson, an out-of-town major land developer, purchased and designed a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) community with the financial help of a syndicate headed by Hamilton Cotton. Hanson believed the area’s pleasant climate, beautiful beaches, and fertile soil would serve as a haven to Californians tired of “the big city.” He named the city after San Clemente Island, which in turn was named by the explorer Sebastián Vizcaino in 1602 after Saint Clement. Hanson envisioned it as a Mediterranean-style coastal resort town, his “San Clemente by the Sea.” He had a clause added to the deeds requiring all building plans to be submitted to an architectural review board in an effort to ensure future development would retain red tile roofs and white exteriors. This proved to be short-lived; an eclectic mix of building styles is found in the oldest parts of town.

Hanson succeeded in promoting the new area and selling property. He built public structures such as the Beach Club, the community center, the pier and San Clemente Plaza, now known as Max Berg Plaza Park. The area was officially incorporated as a City on February 27, 1928 with a council-manager government.

Referring to the way he would develop the city, Hanson proclaimed, “I have a clean canvas and I am determined to paint a clean picture. Think of it – a canvas five miles long and one and one-half miles wide!… My San Clemente by the Sea.”

Soon after San Clemente was incorporated, the need for a fire station was realized. The headlines in San Clemente’s first newspaper, El Heraldo de San Clemente June 1928 read: “Building to house local fire department will be constructed by popular subscription and turned over to the city when completed!” Individual subscriptions were received in the amounts from $6.00 to $1500.00 from the citizenry.

Nixon’s “Western White House”
In 1969, President Richard Nixon bought part of the H. H. Cotton estate, one of the original homes built by one of Hanson’s partners. Nixon called it “La Casa Pacifica” and was nicknamed the “Western White House,” a term for a President’s vacation home. It sits above one of the West Coast’s premier surfing spots, Trestles, and just north of historic surfing beach San Onofre. Many world leaders visited the home during Nixon’s tenure, including Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Prime Minister of Japan Eisaku Satō, Henry Kissinger, and businessman Bebe Rebozo. After his resignation, Nixon retired to San Clemente to write his memoirs. He sold the home in 1980 and moved to New York City. The property also has historical ties to the Democratic side of the aisle; prior to Nixon’s tenure at the estate, H. H. Cotton was known to host Franklin D. Roosevelt, who would visit to play cards in a small outbuilding overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

To the south of San Clemente are Camp Pendleton and Trestles surf beach.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 19.5 square miles. 18.7 square miles of it is land and 0.8 square miles of it is water.

San Clemente has a Mediterranean climate where temperatures tend to average in the 70s °F. The warmest month of the year is August, with an average temperature of 79 °F. The coldest month is December with an average temperature of 64 °F. The annual rainfall in 2010 was 10.5 inches and the annual days of sunshine 310.

Interstate 5 runs through San Clemente. The Foothill Transportation Corridor had proposed to connect Mission Viejo to the Orange/San Diego county line, running along the east side of San Clemente and through San Onofre State Beach on its way to I-5. The California Coastal Commission rejected this proposal 8–2. Reasons cited for rejection included: the road’s alignment through a state park, endangered species habitat, and a Native American archaeological site, and the runoff from the road damaging the state park and surf break. The Federal Government rejected the proposal to place the toll road in accordance with the TCA proposal. This decision was viewed as a major defeat for the TCA and great victory for The Surfrider Foundation (which is based in San Clemente), and for assorted environmental groups. TCA has no current extension for the SR 241 corridor through San Clemente.

Additionally, the city is served by trains by of Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink’s Orange County Line and Inland Empire-Orange County Line between Los Angeles and San Diego, and which provide beachside service in San Clemente. Despite its small size, the city has two stations: San Clemente station and San Clemente Pier station.

In 2016, San Clemente began offering residents free trolley service. The San Clemente Trolley service provides three open-air (windowless) trolleys that cruise throughout the coastal areas of town and pick people up at designated stops every 15 minutes. The trolley is available Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The funding for the San Clemente Trolley came from a $1.2 million grant from the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) which the city applied for. The grant will cover most of the costs for the service for seven years. The grant requires the city to fund a portion of the trolley service at $146,000 over the seven-year grant period. The Friends of the San Clemente Beaches, Parks & Recreation Foundation provided a donation of $10,000 towards the funding of the capital costs of the trolley.

Corporate headquarters
The following companies have their corporate headquarters in San Clemente:

  • Cameron Health – Medical device manufacturer
  • ICU Medical – Medical device manufacturer
  • Pick Up Stix – Fast casual Asian food
  • Rainbow Sandals – Manufacturer of premium sandals
  • Stance Socks – Sock and underwear brand

Many people also work as civilian employees at the USMC Base Camp Pendelton which is just over the San Diego County line.

San Clemente is known for its many surfing locations, which include Trestles, Lowers, Middles & Uppers, Cotton’s Point, Calafia, Riviera, Lasuens (most often called Lost Winds), The Hole, T-Street, The Pier, Linda Lane, 204, North Beach and Poche Beach. It is also home to Surfing Magazine, The Surfer’s Journal, and Longboard Magazine.

The city has a large concentration of surfboard shapers and manufacturers. Additionally, numerous world-renowned surfers were raised in San Clemente or took up long-term residence in town, including Shane Beschen, Mike Parsons (originally from Laguna Beach).

San Clemente High School has won 6 out of 7 most recent NSSA national surfing titles.

The city is served by Capistrano Unified School District.

Within the city, there are six elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. There is also one virtual public K-12 school: Capistrano Connections Academy with flexible hours for students. The elementary schools are: Truman Benedict, Concordia Elementary, Vista Del Mar, Las Palmas, Marblehead Elementary, and Lobo Elementary. The middle schools are Bernice Ayer, Shorecliffs, and Vista Del Mar.

Las Palmas Elementary is well known for its dual immersion program.

San Clemente High School has an IB (International Baccalaureate) Program and a large number of advanced placement courses. Students at San Clemente High School have proven to be well rounded and versatile, receiving academic accolades as well as hosting groups ranging from national title winning dance teams to award-winning orchestras, bands, voice groups and one of the nation’s most skilled athletic programs; these groups have even received opportunities to perform at various venues including Carnegie Hall (madrigals and orchestra), various venues in Hawaii (marching band), and many others.

San Clemente was the setting of the MTV reality show, Life of Ryan.

It was also the setting of the 2005 film Brick. The town was chosen because it was particularly close to the director Rian Johnson who lived there and went to San Clemente High School, which was the school depicted in the film. Many of the locations in the film are still identical to the real ones, with the exception of the Pin’s house, which was flattened a week after exterior shooting; the interior was constructed in a local warehouse. The football field has also since been replaced with artificial turf and track. The phone booths used all through the film are mostly props that were placed on location. The movie One of Her Own is based on incidents in and around San Clemente.

San Clemente is served by two newspapers, The Sun Post News (owned by the Orange County Register) and The San Clemente Times. The Sun Post runs twice weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays and The San Clemente Times runs once weekly on Thursdays.

The city is also served by The San Clemente Patch, an online-only news website.

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Nearby Businesses


Momoku No Usagi 5.0 star rating 8 reviews
425 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

Tabay's Mindful Kitchen 5.0 star rating 63 reviews
34131 Doheny Park Rd
Capistrano Beach, CA 92624

(949) 444-3976

Copenhagen Corner 5.0 star rating 41 reviews
31161 Niguel Rd
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

(949) 429-7900

Vedder's 5.0 star rating 64 reviews
111 W Avenida Palizada
Ste 202
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 338-9199

Lunita’s Pizza 5.0 star rating 63 reviews
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

(949) 350-4670

North Beach Juicery 5.0 star rating 37 reviews
1502 N El Camino Real
Ste E
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 545-7146

Tim Is Making Great Coffee 5.0 star rating 463 reviews
31431 Rancho Viejo Rd
Ste 101
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

(949) 332-9626

Hot N Chili 5.0 star rating 561 reviews
111 W Avenida Palizada
Ste C
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 299-2781


Full Moon Drum Circle 5.0 star rating 14 reviews
31131 S Pacific Coast Hwy
Aliso Beach
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

(949) 922-7729

The BrewHouse Tap Room & Bottle Shop 4.5 star rating 267 reviews
31896 Plaza Dr
Ste D3
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

(949) 481-6181

Capo Cigar Lounge 4.5 star rating 5 reviews
31952 Camino Capistrano
Ste B2
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

(949) 503-1013

Mulligan's Sports Bar 4.5 star rating 128 reviews
1401 Calle Valle
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 492-4400

The Cellar 4.5 star rating 794 reviews
156 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 492-3663

The Lost Inferno 4.5 star rating 36 reviews
425 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

Paddy's Station 4.5 star rating 162 reviews
26701 Verdugo St
Ste B
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

(949) 661-3400

Left Coast Brewing Company 4.5 star rating 141 reviews
1245 Puerta Del Sol
San Clemente, CA 92673

(949) 276-2699


Cove 5.0 star rating 12 reviews
124 Avenida Del Mar
Ste 2
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 388-6628

The Wicker Bee 5.0 star rating 7 reviews
211 Avenida Del Mar
Ste A
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 272-8120

Bungalow J 5.0 star rating 6 reviews
145 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672

(602) 908-2015

RG By The Sea 5.0 star rating 8 reviews
132 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 503-2039

Salt Life - San Clemente 5.0 star rating 8 reviews
157 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672

(714) 361-3822

The Abode 5.0 star rating 20 reviews
228 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 545-7998

The Pac-Rat 5.0 star rating 38 reviews
217 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 366-0733

La Casa Verde de Granada 5.0 star rating 22 reviews
130 Avenida Granada
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 498-2560


Rapport Coffee Roasters 5.0 star rating 252 reviews
647 Camino De Los Mares
Ste 122
San Clemente, CA 92673

JD Flannel Donuts and Coffee 5.0 star rating 851 reviews
31878 Del Obispo St
Ste 122
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

(949) 218-4483

Chaupain Bakery 5.0 star rating 145 reviews
211 Avenida Del Mar
Ste- B
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 545-7153

Alohana Acai Bowls & Coffee 5.0 star rating 198 reviews
111 West Avenida Palizada
Ste 306
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 573-1129

Rosetta Coffee Brewing Company 4.5 star rating 432 reviews
34241 Doheny Park Rd
Doheny Village Carwash
Capistrano Beach, CA 92624

West Toast Cafe 4.5 star rating 40 reviews
339 W Paseo De Cristobal
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 779-5237

Sur Coffee 4.5 star rating 113 reviews
118 S El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 218-5468

High Tide Coffee 4.5 star rating 163 reviews
1624 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 667-2599


CrossFit San Clemente 5.0 star rating 31 reviews
101 Via Pico Plz
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 590-9991

Fight Strong MMA 5.0 star rating 9 reviews
140 Calle Los Molinos
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 218-5222

Fitness Together - Dana Point 5.0 star rating 15 reviews
34255 Pacific Coast Hwy
Ste 107
Dana Point, CA 92629

(949) 488-0005

Beach Cities Fitness 5.0 star rating 39 reviews
34198 Pacific Coast Hwy
Ste B
Dana Point, CA 92629

(949) 342-5139

Fort Fitness 5.0 star rating 18 reviews
25252 Mcintyre St
Ste A
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

(949) 305-1711

Sweat House OC - San Clemente 5.0 star rating 116 reviews
1001 Avenida Pico
Ste H
San Clemente, CA 92673

(714) 421-2127

OC Athletix 5.0 star rating 13 reviews
1504 Avenida De La Estrella
Unit H
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 424-4514

San Clemente Gym 4.5 star rating 55 reviews
1108 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 361-1007


Bowhead Salon 5.0 star rating 59 reviews
380 Camino De Estrella
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 303-9599

The Saloon 5.0 star rating 24 reviews
156 Avenida Serra
Ste A
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 226-9004

Beach Waves Hair Salon 5.0 star rating 21 reviews
1450 N El Camino Real
Ste D
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 361-9283

Salon Revelation 5.0 star rating 167 reviews
34052 La Plz
Ste 102
Dana Point, CA 92629

(949) 248-8595

The District Salon 5.0 star rating 59 reviews
34161 Pacific Coast Hwy
Dana Point, CA 92629

(949) 248-3406

Stevi Brooke - Modest Spot Salon 5.0 star rating 37 reviews
106 W Mariposa
San Clemente, CA 92672

(760) 271-9334

Serandi Salon 5.0 star rating 135 reviews
1833 S Coast Hwy
Ste 100
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

(949) 715-5115

Modest Spot Salon 5.0 star rating 97 reviews
106 W Mariposa
San Clemente, CA 92672

(949) 388-6222