13 Reasons to Visit San Clemente—OC’s Spanish Village by the Sea

An Idyllic Itinerary for This Sweet Beach Town 

Situated on the south end of Orange County sits a little “Spanish village by the sea” where blue waters wash up against sandstone bluffs. San Clemente, known for its laid-back surf culture, charming downtown and preserved Spanish architecture, is an often-overlooked sliver of coast—but locals and those who’ve visited know its splendor. So next time you catch yourself sitting in traffic on the I-5, make a stop and experience the authentic SoCal charm of this beloved beach town. Here’s 13 things not to miss when visiting sweet little San Clemente. San Clemente Itinerary

 

The Bagel Shack San Clemente Itinerary

One of San Clemente’s most popular apres-surf spots, The Bagel Shack is an established local breakfast joint in the heart of town. With everything from scratch-made bagels to fully loaded breakfast sandos, you can’t go wrong with a pit stop here. Order at the counter and grab a spot on the open-air, tiki-themed patio!

Local Insight: Each bagel sandwich is named after a local beach! We love the T Street with cheddar cheese, red onion, tomato and a smearing of chive cream cheese.

@thebagelshack

Exp 5/30

 

Lavender Lounge Tea Co. San Clemente Itinerary

Perched above Baskin Robbins on the corner of Del Mar and El Camino Real, this upstairs tea shop is a hip hangout only locals know about. Lavender Lounge serves a variety of both hot and cold teas with the option to add a scoop of “choobies” (flavored coconut jelly cubes). But aside from their extensive selection of teas, this quaint shop features a library-like setting with windows that overlook San Clemente’s charming downtown. Plus, their gingersnap cookie with a side of lavender butter is to die for.

@lavenderloungetea

 

The San Clemente Beach Coastal Trail

Bask in the beauty of San Clemente with a stroll on the town’s gorgeous beach trail. This 2.3-mile trail stretches from North Beach to Calafia Beach with ocean views that’ll take your breath away. Once you reach the pier (at about halfway), cross the train tracks and grab a coffee at Bear Coast. This specialty coffee shop makes their almond milk and all sauces and flavorings in-house, using minimal ingredients!

@bearcoastcoffee

 

Tuvalu San Clemente Itinerary

Skip the trip to Home Goods this time around and head downtown for some boutique shopping! San Clemente is home to a variety of locally owned shops, including Tuvalu—a home decor shop and design studio with an assortment of boho-beachy finds. From coffee table books and ocean-scented candles to kitchenware and trendy throw pillows, you’ll love this sea-inspired collection!

@tuvaluhome

 

Isabelle’s Cabinet

Try on the latest fashion trends at Isabelle’s Cabinet on Avenida Del Mar. This oh-so trendy clothing boutique sells everything from vintage tees and flirty dresses to stylish shades and dainty jewelry. Pro tip: ask the gals that work there for some style tips!

@isabellescabinet

 

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

Casa Romantica is a 1927 Spanish-colonial historic landmark with a reputation for cultural programming, including art, music, dance, theater and horticulture. The center is set on 2.5 acres of lush, coastal gardens, offering visitors a year-round oasis of beauty and tranquility. Local Insight: You can host a private event here, such as a wedding, conference, holiday party or executive retreat!

@casaromanticasc

 

Kawamata Seafood

This counter-serve spot in Capistrano Beach may not look like much, but the line is always out the door. If you’re looking for a light lunch, Kawamata is the place. They serve an assortment of raw poke bowls in a build-your-own-style fashion—without the frills. Pick your base (cabbage or rice), select your fish and then top it off with your choice of sauce and toppings.

@kawamata_seafood

 

Beach Town Books San Clemente Itinerary

Stop by Beach Town Books and browse through a collection of new and used books in their cozy library setting! This store has a “gold star” system, so anytime you find a book with a gold star on the binding, you know it’s a good read!

@beachtownbooks

 

Fig @ 313 San Clemente Itinerary

The owners of Fig @ 313 creatively renovated a 1927 historic building, bringing it back to life with a chic farmhouse garden vibe. The charming patio is as fresh and fun as the cocktails, while the menu offers a selection of globally-inspired, seasonal bites. Highlights include langoustine stew, potatoes au gratin, roasted Brussels sprouts and Maine grilled lobster. But don’t leave without ordering the brioche bread with fig butter.

@figsanclemente

Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar

Pacific Northwest seafood and spectacular ocean views combine to make Fisherman’s an idyllic happy hour hotspot. Located on the picturesque San Clemente Pier, this family-friendly venue is a no-brainer when it comes to a sunset dinner. Feast on fresh offerings like oysters, mussels, clams, dungeness crab, crispy calamari and more!

@fishermans_sc

 

The Vine Restaurant & Bar

San Clemente may be a small town, but when it comes to fine dining, this “village by the sea” is no slouch. And while it may be tempting to head to the popular Nick’s or South of Nick’s, we recommend expanding your palate at The Vine—a San Clemente favorite. This restaurant and wine bar boasts an eclectic Californian-Mediterranean menu and a carefully curated wine list (aka the perfect date-night combo). The best thing on the menu? The Crispy Jidori Chicken Schnitzel with Maitake Mushrooms, of course.

@vinesanclemente

 

South Swell San Clemente Itinerary

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a trip to South Swell for a decadent, chocolate-dipped ice cream bar. Everything about this ice cream shop is Insta-worthy—from the pink neon sign that reads “dip me” to the decorated frozen treats. You’ll want to pull out your phone for this one.

Local Insight: For those who are vegan or lactose intolerant, opt for a tasty frozen banana!

@southswellicecream

 

Rancho Capistrano Winery

San Juan’s beloved Rancho Capistrano winery recently opened a second location on Avenida Del Mar! Stop in for a wine tasting or make a reservation for lunch or dinner. The menu features a variety of seafood dishes, plus a few favorites from their San Juan flagship location.

Local Insight: Sign up for the winery’s monthly membership and enjoy two bottles of wine each month and perks like complimentary daily tastings for you and a friend, 50% off select food every Tuesday and 50% off an additional two glasses or bottle!

@ranchocapistranowinery

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