THE LOCALS: Kelsie & Kaya
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST THEM:
Kelsie currently lives in Denver but was a San Clemente local for two years. Her work’s headquarters recently moved to San Clemente, so she spent seven weeks there this past summer. Because San Clemente is a small community, in seven weeks Kelsie was able to get a good feel for everything it has to offer. Kelsie continues to travel to SC monthly.
Kaya is Kelsie’s coworker, who has lived in San Clemente since the Spring of 2015. For Kaya, San Clemente quickly became home. She and her boyfriend, Max, live near downtown San Clemente and are very active beach-goers. In the summer, you can find them surfing, biking and hiking, and they love to ski and snowboard in the winter.
1. Best Place to Grab Beers or an Evening Cocktail?
Kelsie: The Cellar has tons of wine and beer options and healthy, locally sourced food. They also have live music most nights.
Kaya: For beers, our favorites are Pizza Port and Duke’s. Pizza Port is a multi-level restaurant that brews their own beer and serves food family style. Duke’s is a tropical themed bar with a surfer vibe and a menu with classic American bar food.
2. Best Coffee Shop or Bakery?
Kelsie: Ellie’s Table
Kaya: Bear Coast is a cute café located right across the street from the San Clemente Pier. They serve pastries and delicious drinks.
3. Favorite Place or Street for a Walk?
Kelsie: Sea Summit Trail- beautiful trails that overlook the ocean. This was my favorite place to run with my pup, Roonie. It’s also a great place to watch the sunset!
Kaya: The San Clemente Beach Trail runs alongside the beaches of the city and the path follows all the way up the coast. The trail is pet friendly (leash required) and offers the best views during your morning or evening stroll.
4. Your Recommended Sunny Day Agenda?
Kelsie: Start your day by surfing or paddle boarding at Dana Point, just north of San Clemente. After, grab a poke bowl for lunch at Kawamata Seafood. It’s a cash-only dive, but the poke bowls are phenomenal!
Kaya: A sunny day makes a great beach day! You can’t go wrong with any of the beaches in San Clemente. At most of the beaches, you can find free parking… as long as you don’t mind walking a bit!
5. Essential San Clemente Tip for Visitors?
Kaya: Hang out at the beach, walk around town (Del Mar Street) and take a walk or drive up the neighborhood hills to get a view from above. Walk down the Pier and along the palm tree-lined sideswalks of Pier Bowl. The Pier Bowl is connected to downtown via Avenida Del Mar. You can get to Pier Bowl via the Amtrak. The train station is at the bottom the bowl, next to the pier.
TripAdvisor’s Top Five San Clemente Attractions
Kelsie: Thumbs up! A nice spot to watch the sunset and surfers. There’s also a great restaurant across the street from the pier called Pierside Kitchen + Bar. It’s a cute spot to enjoy Taco Tuesday or happy hour.
Kaya: Thumbs UP! Beautiful views and you can easily walk to the end and back. A perfect place to catch the sunset.
Kelsie: Thumbs up! This trail is down the street from where I stay when I’m in SC.
Kaya: Thumbs UP! This is a flat, groomed trail that is right next to the ocean. If you want more of a challenge, there are stairs along the way that you can run up and down to add an extra incline to your workout.
Kelsie: Thumbs up!
Kaya: Thumbs up! You’ll have to pay for parking in the beach lot, but you can also park further away and walk. It’s a beautiful beach and they have a little snack shack and restrooms as well.
Neither Kelsie or Kaya have been to Casa Romantica, but it’s a historic estate built in Spanish Colonial Revival style that overlooks the San Clemente Pier. The estate has an inner courtyard, a butterfly garden and 2.5 acres of coastal gardens that visitors can enjoy year round. The estate is open every day but Monday, and general admission is $5.
Kaya: Thumbs UP! It almost feels like you’re in a different country at San Onofre because they have little island-looking umbrellas and a few cabanas. It has wonderful, beginner-friendly surfing waves and is an ideal spot to car camp for the day. Bring a cooler and food!
Yelp’s Top San Clemente Restaurants
Kaya: Thumbs UP! Very fancy and lovely French restaurant. I would designate their cooking as ‘wine-country’ food and they have a menu that changes daily, depending on ingredients and the season.
2. The Cellar
Kelsie: Two thumbs up! Delicious shared plates as well as wine and champagne flights.
Kaya: Thumbs up! The Cellar is a beautiful little restaurant with live music most nights, a huge wine selection and lots of beer options as well. Yummy food to accompany.
3. Board & Brew
Kelsie: I haven’t been.
Kaya: I have yet to dine in there, but I have had one of their to-go wraps; it was delicious!
4. Guichos Eatery 2
Neither have been. Guichos is a family-owned restaurant serving Italian cuisine for dine-in or take-out.
Kelsie: I haven’t been, but I walked by it frequently and it looks really nice inside. It’s in the heart of downtown and is surrounded by a bunch of great bars and shopping.
Kaya: Special occasion dinner; fresh Mexican with elegant, upscale ambiance.
San Clemente Local Faves
- Active Cultures – Great for heathy breakfast, lunch and froyo! (Kaya agrees!)
- 9 Style Sushi – A hidden spot off Avenida Victoria. It’s in a semi-sketchy looking building, but it’s really delish!
- La Tiendita – Authentic Mexican dive. Amazing burritos! (Kaya agrees on this one too!)
- Sonny’s Pizza and Pasta
- Hapa J’s – A Taco Tuesday hot spot! On Tuesdays only, they serve extra large, delicious tacos. Their cuisine is Asian fusion, with Hawaiian and American options as well.
- Poke Roll 808- Sushi and really good poke bowls, all for a great price. A good happy hour spot too!
- Full Moon Sushi – Near the movie theatre, Full Moon serves wonderful sushi at great prices.