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‘Paradise’ in South Orange County

December 23rd, 2015 · No Comments · tourism, Travel


The San Clemente Pier reaches 1,296 feet into the Pacific Ocean. The concrete benches along each side of the pier’s length have messages written on them, with text provided by the people who donated that bench to the city.

One of them reads: “Welcome to paradise.”

That would seem presumptuous, nearly anywhere else in the world. But in the city of San Clemente, “paradise” is pretty much demonstrable fact.

San Clemente typically gets 310 days of sun annually. Usually, you need to be in desert to match that.

The average temperature in the height of summer is 79 degrees Fahrenheit; in the depths of winter it is 64. Pretty much the optimum range, that is, for humans to work or play without giving a thought to unpleasant weather.

The Pacific is right down the hill from wherever you live, in San Clemente. It provides recreation and seafood and some of the best surfing in the world, here at the southern tip of Orange County.

The city was founded in 1920s after Ole Hanson, the former mayor of soggy Seattle, bought 2,000 acres and had a home constructed with the idea that people in Los Angeles, to the north, or San Diego, to the south, might follow his lead in escaping the rat race of the city.

The city was given the same name as the island offshore, San Clemente, named by a Spanish explorer who sighted it on the feast day of Saint Clement, November 23.

It has had a few moments in history, too. Richard Nixon, the former president, bought a home here, which was known as the Western White House, when he was in office. President Franklin Roosevelt apparently had visited the same property, decades before.

The pace here is slow (which also applies to the San Diego Freeway, which often is clogged as it passes through the city) and the temperament of the locals appears to be a sort of chilled-out semi-bliss. It’s not like they are boasting about it, but if pressed they would smile and say: “Yeah, I live in San Clemente.”

We have had the good fortune, during our Southern California visit, of being guests of family members who live here. It is like a vacation.

Today, we drove down to the beach and walked a few miles along the path running parallel to the water’s edge, and ambled out to the end of the pier, where a handful of locals were still trying their luck at fishing.

The sun was mild, the surf rolled to the sand, gulls circled, surfers waited for the next wave. Everyone seemed healthy and happy, and why shouldn’t they be?

As the pier bench says, it’s “paradise”.


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