If you are looking for Orange County’s version of the Santa Monica Pier, you’re looking in the wrong place. On the list of things to do in San Clemente, the San Clemente Pier is at the top. The San Clemente Pier doesn’t have the flashy lights and rollercoasters like LA’s famous pier, but what it does have is an amazing charm and gorgeous beachfront for its visitors to enjoy. There are miles and miles of stunning beaches and coastline to enjoy either north or south of the pier. Sections include some of the most well known beaches in Southern California including the pier itself, T-Street beach, and San Clemente State Beach. Walk far enough to the south and you can enjoy the beaches of San Onofre. Aside from the beaches, the San Clemente Pier has plenty for you to enjoy on any day, or night of the week.
- Parking at the pier is monitored 10am-5pm daily
- After 5pm you can park for free
Sunsets at the Pier
There is no doubt that sunsets are one of the best attractions at the San Clemente Pier. Every day – sunny, cloudy, dull, or bright, people gather at or near the pier along the beach to watch some of the prettiest sunsets you will see anywhere in the world. It sounds cliché, but the fact is that even natives never get bored of it. Visit the pier at sunset and you will see plenty of people relaxing and enjoying the sun fade across the sky behind the hills of Dana Point. From the foot of the pier to the end, there isn’t a bad spot to catch the sunset. Dogs are not allowed on the pier or beach, but are allowed along the beach trial. Bring your pup along for the sunset, just be sure to clean up with the numerous pet hygiene stations, and trash cans in the area.
The Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar
You don’t need to catch a sunset to enjoy the pier, especially if you’re over 21. The San Clemente Pier has a fun restaurant and bar aboard which serves plenty of favorites, and is a great place to enjoy lunch, dinner, or a drink. Day or night, you cannot deny the beauty and ambiance of the pier. There is no better way to enjoy it that while having a tasty bite to eat watching the surfers, sunset, or pedestrians meander the beach and pier. Food and drinks are reasonably priced. Most nights during the week it is quiet so you can appreciate a good beverage. Stop by for happy hour, or get your night started somewhere quiet and fun. Dinner, or a drink at the pier is one of the best things to do in San Clemente at night.
Lunch on the Pier
Getting tired of your usual lunch spot? Check out downtown San Clemente and the pier on a nice day. There is no loss in enjoying some sunshine and waves while grabbing a bite to eat. There is no better way to cure mid-week office blues than to enjoy some bright blue sky and food on the pier. Bring your own food, or grab something small from the concessions and take a stroll. The pier, even at the busiest time of the year usually has a bench where you can stop and enjoy your food while watching surfers and beach goers enjoy the day. There’s nothing like the pier on a bright sunny day.
- The Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar
- San Clemente Pier concessions (summer months)
- Bring your own lunch
- The Grill – to Go
If you are around the pier during the right time of day and haven’t been, this is a must see. Casa Romantica is the once-upon-a-time estate of Ole Hanson – the father of San Clemente. For just $5 bucks how could you not? If you are at the pier looking to the north you can see the beautiful estate atop the hills. Casa Romantica has plenty of events and activities that are hosted on the premises throughout the year, and is one of the most scenic wedding venues in Orange County. Aside from the events, Casa Romantica is worth a visit on any day of the week. You get to enjoy the majority of the gorgeous and historical property at your leisure. Not to mention that Casa Romantica has one of the best views of the pier bowl and San Clemente Pier. You can see quite a ways on a clear day from the garden benches of this attraction in San Clemente.
You can walk to Casa Romantica from the pier in about 5 minutes. General admission is $5 and military can enjoy for free. Most special events will only cost you 10 or 12 bucks, much less than a hollywood flick and infinitely less ordinary.Read More
Walk The San Clemente Beach Trail
A short, walk or a long walk. To the north, or south. You don’t need to be on, or at the pier to enjoy it’s beauty, a sunset, or bright sunny day. The beach trail is dog friendly, and can be biked during non-peak summer month’s of the year. There are plenty of spots to sit and take a break if you get tired on a longer walk. Departing form the pier in either direction will only lead you to other great beach spots. Why not? To the south of the pier you will hit T-Street, a popular beach and surfing spot. Walking north you will pass Linda Lane, Dije Court, and North Beach – a few more relaxed beach spots with playgrounds and other things to do. The trail stretches from North Beach to Calafia State Beach where you can opt to go on foot farther down the beach if you will.
Breakfast & The Pier
Let’s all be grateful there is not a McDonald’s attached to the pier, but what could stop you from grabbing some breakfast and bringing it to the pier to enjoy a sunrise and the dawn patrol surfers? Even if you hate getting up early, its fun to do it to experience the peace and quiet at the pier. All the clichés of the AM apply. Birds chirping, the sunrise, cool & comfortable sea breeze, and a relaxing quiet. If you are into exercising, or want to hit the beach trail to grab food, the best option is to head north to, wait for it…, North Beach. Ellie’s Table at North Beach is hands down the best breakfast spot in San Clemente. You will be sold the first time you visit if you haven’t been there. Choose from sandwiches, pastries, and plenty more. Their barista’s make coffee just short of Starbuck’s level brew. Grab you breakfast here and walk south to the pier, or head up after sunrise for a bite. There is no bad time of day to go, except for when they run out of your favorite item, mainly the fruit danishes 😀.
Del Mar St. & Downtown
You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Well, you could stay, but if you are going out for the night, the pier is a good start and is within walking distance from the best places to get a bite to eat in San Clemente. Del Mar St. is the heart of San Clemente and the home for many of it’s best restaurants and bars. You can start you night on Del Mar and walk to the pier, or go the reverse. Either way you get to enjoy the two best parts of the city. Morning, day, and night – Del Mar Street has something good to do. Farmer’s market on Sunday, happy hour, or a night out are all in the mix of things you can do here. The Cellar, Ole’s Tavern, Goody’s Tavern, and Pizza Port are about 5-10 minutes walking distance from the Pier.