San Clemente. Last Fall while I was deciding on where to go for a mini getaway I had so many ideas in mind but, my top priorities were: price, safety, and (duh) aesthetics. I was craving color and comfort but also ease of travel because sometimes public transportation or simply being within walking distance is preferable to explore the city.
Nestled in Orange County, San Clemente is an artsy but also lively beach city with plenty to explore and visit. The weather is really nice but I recommend bringing a cardigan or light coat if you decide to spend the night out. Its definitely a city I want to go back and explore. You can walk freely at night because literally everyone is awake. Whether they are grabbing a late night bite, walking back from the beach, finding some coffee, or hanging with friends. I love cities that are night owl friendly quite honestly. But don’t think that it’ll prevent a good sleep – the tourist and locals aren’t loud that you’ll need a sound machine or so. Even lounging at midnight with a movie and snack at your Air BNB is a treat.
Where I Stayed
This was my first time getting an Air BNB in San Clemente and it was a pretty good experience, I loved the one I rented because of its Best-Coast/minimalist decor – plus its nestled atop a bookstore so really no complaints there! The host is really nice too.
Bear Coast Coffee – was a great place for a latte and it’s literally minutes from the beach. I got a vanilla almond milk latte but I love that they also have plenty of vegan choices are far treats + bites go. It’s a very chill vibe and if you’re a local (or not) I would recommend bringing a book or laptop to get some work done!
Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria – If you’re new, then a friendly reminder is that I have Celiac so wheat/gluten are not my friends. I was looking for somewhere to eat after walking to the beach and little did I expect to find this gem of a pizza place with a pretty extensive option for those with dietary restrictions. Grab a dairy free pie with all the veggies.
Ellie’s Table – a dulcetone café with plenty of plant based options and are quite customizable, I had a quick café run here! Recommend it greatly.
See & Do
Beach Town Bookstore – this is a beautifully styled and kept used bookstore that also has new selections and staff picks. It’s colorfully charming with little areas and nooks to sit and read or browse. They also give store credit for donated books!
San Clemente Pier & Beach Trail – a picturesque walk with many routes. The pier goes to the ocean but you’ll be mind blown by the houses that line the canyons and their unique architecture. However, if you start on the on the sand and leads to wood plank route through a nature-filled trail with butterflies, flowers, a train, and lots of dogs walking by. Its very relaxing the sky turns a marvelous pink as it sets in atop the ocean. There’s also a bar and some places to grab a bite if you don’t want to take the trolley/walk back up to the main streets.
Jill’s Abode – if Magnolia Market and Venice Beach had a store-baby, this would be it. Not only is there a garden and fountain outside the store where you can relax in but inside theres a earthy and unique collection of vintage and repurposed home décor of all kinds. I got a taxidermy butterfly frame and honestly I wanted to get more. There are a lot of plants and each price point is checked off.
San Clemente Farmers’ Market – Sundays at 9am to 1pm this farmers market is nestled in Downtown San Clemente so not only do you have lined streets with beautiful shops and parks – even a library, but there’s the double rows of vendors with all kinds of treats from local produce, homemade items like preserves or baked goods (I scored some gluten free cinnamon buns and cookies), and then handmade items as well. This is a good walk so treat yourself to some coffee or kombucha along the way and head back down to the beach (we took the trolley!) when you’re done.
La Tienda Thrift Store – An elevated thrift store that reminds me of Los Angeles, there’s plenty of hidden gems to find here and its reasonably priced. There’s also an upper level for home décor, books, and furniture.
What else did I do? Driving back I stumbled across Laguna Beach (if you were a teen in the 2000s, this city probably holds many memories for you) but regardless I checked out a few places here on a sunny day. 1000 Step Beach is a unique little find that leads to that expansive beach. Theres a stony stair step that will challenge you and if you’re not athletically inclined like me, take breaks!
There’s also the most charming bookstore Laguna beach Books that a walk from the beach and really great eateries. I didn’t take many photos of the bookstore but, believe me when I tell y’all it’s worth the visit and I picked up two books and some pressed flower bookmarks.