San Clemente is a coastal city in southern Orange County, situated midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. The city is known for its ocean, hill and mountain views, as well as the terrific climate and characteristic Spanish Colonial architecture. Home to around 63,500 people, the City of San Clemente's slogan is Spanish Village by the Sea.
Ole Hanson, Mayor of Seattle, sparked the development of San Clemente with the vision of creating an oasis for Californians who were tired of the big city.
In 1925, he purchased and designed a 2,000-acre community and named it after San Clemente Island. Hanson envisioned a Mediterranean-style coastal resort town, his very own San Clemente by the Sea. He provided strict measures to ensure that all future development would retail Mediterranean-style influence, an effort that proved futile in the long run. Today, the community houses a wide variety of structures and even the oldest parts of town are filled with an eclectic mix of styles.
Hansen built many of the Mediterranean-style public structures in San Clemente, including the Beach Club, the Community Center, the pier and San Clemente Plaza; now called the Mark Berg Plaza Park. The city officially incorporated in 1928.
In 1969, President Richard Nixon purchased part of the H.H. Cotton estate, one of the original homes, and called it La Casa Pacifica. The dwelling was nicknamed Western White House, a common term referring to a President's vacation home.
La Casa Pacifica is nestled above one of the West Coast's premier surfing spots, Trestles, just north of the historic surfing beach San Onotre, and many world leaders have visited the house throughout the years. After the president's resignation, he retired to San Clemente to write his memories, but in 1980, he moved to New York City.
Today, the sweet Mediterranean-like city of San Clemente features a small-town feel where many of the locals still do their shopping and dining in the sweet pedestrian mall Avenida Del Mar. This quaint little place offers a myriad of stores and restaurants that visitors can spend an entire day exploring. For exquisite dining, check out some of the local favorites, such as Captain Millie's and the Village Mediterranean Rim.