Why San Clemente Quickly Became a Go-To Spot

Kristen is one of the friends you just want to have. She’s the most loyal and thoughtful friend and she also lives in a great spot in California. When I hopped off the plane in LAX Thursday night, we had only roughly talked about our weekend plans. She’s lived out there over seven years and we’ve been able to do all the landmarks during some of those trips (Santa Monica Pier, Beverly Hills, Disneyland) so there was nothing that I was overly drawn to do. 

To my surprise Kristen and Zack had this whole thing planned out. We stopped for a quick bite in Irvine with Zack and headed to San Clemente. She had booked us a cute little Airbnb right on the coast. San Clemente is the southernmost beach town in Orange County. We crashed pretty quickly Thursday night but were excited to enjoy this spot come Friday morning.

Local Coffee Shop

We headed to this cute little coffee shop just a short walk from our place called High Tide Coffee. Incredibly instagrammable except that pretty much every spot in this beach town is in this category. While the coffee was great, I really loved this spot because they let you pick you mug, and they had a nice assortment of pastries including gluten-free, dairy-free donuts. That is the mothership in my opinion! Plus, it was pumpkin flavored and even SoCal was a cool down from Atlanta, so it felt so much more like fall. 

Waterside Brunch

After we chilled for a bit that morning, we decided it was time for a true brunch/lunch. I am always trying to add brunch spots to my 30 before 30 bucket list items, and I was able to add quite a few places to that list this weekend. Our Friday spot was called Pierside, it didn’t sit directly on the water, but it had an ocean view, and was super reasonably priced. We helped ourselves to a shrimp and guac appetizer as well as some incredible avocado bruschetta. Our main dishes looked more like breakfast with a delicious egg scramble and the BEST (no exaggeration) fingerling potatoes. 

Savory American 

After a great beach day, we headed back on their great beach trail (a 2.2-mile one-way route that hugs the beach the whole way) to rest and get cleaned up. For dinner we headed to their downtown strip area, slightly off the water. There is no lack of options but we wanted some simple so we headed to a spot called The Local, I was feeling a little full since my body thought it was closer to 10pm and just grabbed a Thai Salad and some Brussel sprouts to share, who knew these would be the perfect example of a well done Brussel sprout. Blistered to perfection with a balsamic glaze was a fun way to stay simple, but tasty. Kristen got a monster burger which she said was delicious. 

Sweet Treat

If you want to know something about Kristen, she has a hankering for ice cream and as beach towns across the country do have no shortage of ice cream shops. We found this spot on Del Mar called South Swell Hand Dipped that had all natural, no additives selections of gelato. While at that point I was stuffed, we both tried several flavors and were blown away!

Cultural offerings 

Saturday morning, we went for a nice run out and back of the beach trail and had our hearts set on this crepery called La Galette. Located right next to Pierside we loved having a water view while we enjoyed our French breakfast. We split a sweet (berries and cream) and savory (chicken sausage, potatoes, and cheese) and thought both were 8/10. We walked around for a bit and decided it was time to make our way back towards Irvine for a special spa day that Zack had surprised us with. 

If you are a runner you’ll love the North Beach Trail that overlooks the water. It’s a 4.5 mile out and back and flat as a board, the ocean air providing a really nice breeze as the sweat starts to glisten.

10/10 would recommend San Clemente and we would go back again in a heartbeat. 

Have you ever been? Any other spots you love?

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