San Clemente Historic Tour

California, San Clemente Guide (A): San Clemente Historic Tour

San Clemente - "The Spanish Village by the Sea." Come see how Ole Hanson, the city’s founder, made his dream a reality as we explore San Clemente's major landmarks. We'll start on historic El Camino Real, work through the city's main shopping district to the pier, and end at North Beach where some of Ole's Hanson most popular public buildings still remain.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: San Clemente Historic Tour
Guide Location: USA » San Clemente
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: El Camino Real   Ole Hanson's Office   Hotel San Clemente   Casa Romantica   Semper Fi Park   Beachcomber Motel   The Pier & Fisherman's Restaurant   Coastal Beach Trail   Metrolink Station   Aquarium Cafe - Ichibari's Restaurant   Casino San Clemente and Miramar Theater   Ole Hanson Beach Club  
Author: Scott Weber
Author Bio: Scott's a native Californian and loves to write about his favorite places and friends. He lived in San Clemente for 25 years and enjoys exploring the southwest every chance he gets.
El Camino Real

1) El Camino Real

We begin this tour at the corner of Avenida Del Mar and El Camino Real, also known as “The Royal Road” or “The King’s Highway.” For centuries, El Camino Real has been associated with the twenty-one missions and four presidios built by the Franciscans between 1769 and 1823, but many roads were built under the Spanish crown and they were all considered a camino real. Fortunately for us, this is one of the Royal Roads that connected Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside to Mission San Juan...
Ole Hanson's Office

2) Ole Hanson's Office

It’s also no coincidence that this intersection was chosen by the founder of this seaside village to be the hub of his dream-come-to-life; “San Clemente, the Spanish Village by the Sea.” In 1926, the building that Baskin and Robbin’s Ice Cream now occupies was Ole Hanson’s land sales office and the first structure built in town. Hanson had not only surveyed the first phase of his cozy little beach community, he’d cut roads and staked out lots. All that was left was buyers. He ran ads...
Hotel San Clemente

3) Hotel San Clemente

The Hotel San Clemente was built in 1927 to house potential homebuyers and tourists. It’s a majestic three-story example of the architecture that pervades the city. Originally it had sixty rooms with four commercial businesses on the street, but in the 1960’s, it was converted into 47 apartments. The main lobby and the outside Spanish tiled patio are still a popular place to have lunch and people watch. The building also supports four darling retail shops on the street; each with big arched...
Casa Romantica

4) Casa Romantica

The minute you enter the grounds of Casa Romantica, you know you’re in a very special place. This home was built in 1927, and given that Ole Hanson had been the primary driving force in home sales and land development, he chose the best of the best to build his own home. Carl Lindbom, who also designed Casa Pacifica, the home President Nixon used as the Western White House, designed this seven-bedroom, seven-bath masterpiece. Built around a gorgeous floral courtyard, Casa Romantica sits...
Semper Fi Park

5) Semper Fi Park

This park and monument were established in November of 2005 to honor the Marine Corps and the sacrifices they’ve made in service to our nation. Bill Limebrook and Lauren St. Vincent designed the 12-foot high, bronze statue of a marine in Dress Blues saluting the American Flag. The City donated the land the park sits on, thousands of donors gave money for the monuments, and hundreds of volunteers leveled the lot and landscaped the area with indigenous plants. It’s fitting that such a monument...
Beachcomber Motel

6) Beachcomber Motel

This classic old motel is truly a relic of the past and can be seen in many of the old photos of the pier area. Where in Southern California can you find charm like this? Built in 1947, it is considered to be the oldest running business in town. There are fifteen bungalows and each one has its own patio, kitchenette, ocean view, and all are within walking distance of the beach and restaurants. The view rivals that of the Ritz Carlton. It’s important to remember, until the interstate freeway...
The Pier & Fisherman's Restaurant

7) The Pier & Fisherman's Restaurant

The original San Clemente Pier was 1,200 feet long, 24 feet wide and was completed in 1928. It’s been on the losing end of two head-to-head battles with the Pacific Ocean and has been rebuilt twice. The most recent renovation added steel pilings so it looks as though Mother Nature will have to ramp up her next attack if she expects a victory. In the early days, the reefs between Cotton’s Point to the south and Dana Point to the north were rich with lobster and abalone. Sport fishing has...
Coastal Beach Trail

8) Coastal Beach Trail

Assuming the Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar hasn’t weakened your resolve to walk to North Beach, the Coastal Trail begins just north of the Pier and will give you ample opportunities to photograph San Clemente’s beautiful coastline. The trail was completed in 2008, but not without an environmental fight. The building with the clock tower is home to the lifeguards. San Clemente has five miles of the finest beaches in the county and 2.2 million visitors come every year to enjoy a variety of...
Metrolink Station

9) Metrolink Station

The Metrolink Station was built in 1995 to service the expanding population moving into the rapidly growing back hills of San Clemente. Metrolink trains stop here eight times a day going north and south. Amtrak stops at the pier twice a day. Trains have always been vital to the growth of San Clemente. Without the Southern Pacific line from Los Angeles to San Diego, many of these coastal communities might not have made it. Ole Hanson certainly depended on the trains to bring homebuyers and...
Aquarium Cafe - Ichibari's Restaurant

10) Aquarium Cafe - Ichibari's Restaurant

This building has gone through a multitude of owners and transformations. This was originally the Aquarium Café and was built in 1929. It was just a counter with 12 stools, a handful of booths, and several saltwater aquariums. The original owners, Mr. and Mrs. Servus no sooner got the doors open than the stock market crashed. Mr. Servus was so distraught he hung himself. His wife continued to run the restaurant. It was then tuned into a drive-in diner. This location was and still is at the...
Casino San Clemente and Miramar Theater

11) Casino San Clemente and Miramar Theater

The Strang Brothers built the Casino San Clemente in 1936. Prohibition ended in 1933, and with the population growing in the south county, the Casino San Clemente sounded like a good idea. It featured a bar overlooking the beach, a patio, and a circular floating ballroom. Over the years it has hosted a multitude of functions, but in its early years there were dinner shows, dance reviews, big bands, and even a few live radio broadcasts. Even Judy Garland sang here once. After WWII, rumor has it...
Ole Hanson Beach Club

12) Ole Hanson Beach Club

The Beach Club was built in 1927. It’s probably the most elegant of all the building built by Ole Hanson. It is a very popular place for wedding receptions, banquets, classes, as well as being used as the city’s primary swimming facility. In earlier times, regional tryouts for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics were held here. Ole Hanson was a very generous man and he knew if his dream city was going to succeed, he’d have to build all of the facilities himself. And he did. He built the Beach...