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Surfers and bikini babes come to mind when thoughts turn to San Clemente, a quintessential southern California coast town mid-way between Los Angeles and San Diego. The town is a Johnny come lately, having really evolved only in the 1920s when it was conceived as a "Spanish Village by the Sea." Architecture must adhere to a strict code designed to enhance the Spanish colonial feel. The town's 1,200-foot-long wooden municipal pier is a landmark. Palms tower over cliff-hemmed San Clemente State Beach, and over two of California's premier surfing beaches: San Onofre (popular for an all-over tan) and Trestles. The latter is the enviable setting ...

Surfers and bikini babes come to mind when thoughts turn to San Clemente, a quintessential southern California coast town mid-way between Los Angeles and San Diego. The town is a Johnny come lately, having really evolved only in the 1920s when it was conceived as a "Spanish Village by the Sea." Architecture must adhere to a strict code designed to enhance the Spanish colonial feel. The town's 1,200-foot-long wooden municipal pier is a landmark. Palms tower over cliff-hemmed San Clemente State Beach, and over two of California's premier surfing beaches: San Onofre (popular for an all-over tan) and Trestles. The latter is the enviable setting for the Camp Pendleton Marine base. San Clemente is most famous, perhaps, as the place where President Richard Nixon resided when not in D.C.. His home was known as the "Western White House." The hills rise inland from the shore, and many visitors enjoy winding into the ritzy residential neighborhoods to guess which famous folks live here. Sliced through by Interstate 5, the town is easily accessed, and visitors can even hop on or off Amtrak's 'Pacific Surfliner' express train.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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