On the famous paved walk down to the famous Trestles beach you will always see the classic, colorful surf graffiti spouting off discouragements to those who don’t belong: “No kooks,” “You’re going the wrong way,” “Surf hard.” Now, it is important to keep in mind that not all of the beach-folk feel that way. In fact, there are handfuls of things to do in the very same area, for surfers and non-surfers alike.
1. Camp at San Onofre
One of the five most-visited State Parks in California, San Onofre is an incredible park boasting 3,000-acres! With the beach just three miles south of the city of San Clemente on Interstate 5, it’s really no wonder it sees so many visitors. With three sites to choose from you can usually have your pick of places to pitch your tent. Shack up near the San Onofre Bluffs and walk right down one of the rugged trails for any time beach access; camp out at the San Mateo Campgrounds for a beautiful and lush hike right to Trestles, or just spend the day at the recreational Surf Beach.
2. Watch for Sea Creatures
Whether you’re standing on the bluffs at San Onofre or on the pier right at the bottom of San Clemente, make sure you pack a pair of binoculars. Dolphins, seals, and the occasional whale make an appearance in the shining blue water more than you would expect. And well, if you can’t find any of those, take a minute to watch the resident invasive species – surfers.
More than just a phenomenal view, Casa Romantica holds tight to their mission of creating a welcoming public place for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about the diversity of life in southern California. With various programs, volunteer opportunities, and events about the history, ecology and culture of the region, it might just be impossible not to learn something.
4. President Nixon’s Western White House
Publicly listed for sale in April 2015, the asking price for this specific oceanfront villa was $75 million. Unfortunately, we imagine that it might be quite hard to get a tour yourself. Business Insider has a few draw-dropping photos, however, you might just have to settle for seeing it at a distance. Worth it? We think so
5. Grab a Bite to Eat at the First-Ever Pedro’s Tacos
A cherished place in the heart of countless surfers since 1986, this small eatery is everything you could ask for in an authentic Trestles experience. Whether you decide on the famous fish tacos or an equally delicious carne asada burrito, you won’t be disappointed.
6. Visit the San Clemente Farmer’s Market
Sunday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Historic Avenida Del Mar are full of fresh fruit and happy people. Right in the center of a healthy and vibrant beach community, a walk through the extensive Farmer’s Market will likely do so much more good than harm. Granted, your wallet may suffer from buying snacks for the whole family and your arms may ache from carrying a few too many vegetables but again we say: worth it!
7. See the Mission
Key to the history of the area and even the Trestles, the Mission San Juan Capistrano is a must-visit. With a wonderful museum, frequent events, and gorgeous gardens all set in and around the breathtaking Spanish architecture, it’s truly a great place to learn from and enjoy.
8. Art Walk on Historic Avenida Del Mar
Being in the same spot as the Farmer’s Market it’s hard to imagine an equally pleasant atmosphere, however, it’s there all the same. Casa Tropicana calls it “An ideal opportunity to gather with friends, stroll Avenida Del Mar and meet many of our local artists in person,” saying that the mood is “relaxed and welcoming, shops are open a bit later, and you’ll find this warm community is at its best.”
9. Play at the Pier
The San Clemente Pier is a well known and loved spot where you can to take a stroll, watch for sea creatures and surfers, and even grab a bite to eat. The ever-popular Fisherman’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar is usually packed full of people for two reasons: the food and the view. Time it right and you could even watch the sun set.
10. Grab a Seat for a Show at the Cabrillo Playhouse
With something new every month, this 66-seat playhouse never fails to fill quickly. Their classic productions, as well as their original shows, receive consistent praise with dedicated audience members and newcomers alike. Perhaps even more interesting though is that the beloved Cabrillo Playhouse is both non-profit and volunteer-run. Founded in 1953, it’s been a real gem of the community and is still today.