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Things to do in San Clemente, CA area

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Dec 10th, 1999, 02:27 PM
  #1
Amy
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Things to do in San Clemente, CA area

My husband & I are going to California May 21-28, 2000. We are staying in San Clemente and are planning on renting a car for the week. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what we can do-MUST SEES? We don't mind driving distances & doing day trips. We want to make the most of this trip by doing as much as possible & plan on spending alot of time in the car. We definitely want to do: Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Universal Studios, Disneyland, La Jolla, Hollywood, etc-the touristy things. Can anyone give us an idea as to what activities from our list we can combine into one full day that are nearby eachother? Or give us any ideas of things we should do that we haven't listed? Any suggestions will be much appreciated! Thanks!!
 
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Dec 11th, 1999, 12:33 PM
  #2
Kam
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Two missions nearby, San Juan Capistrano where the swallows return and San Luis Rey which is one of the prettiest in California. Also, Laguna Beach with it's very southern CA atmosphere, pretty beach and art galleries is great fun. You're not very far from Del Mar, La Jolla and San Diego either. San Clemente is pretty quiet and residential itself. Got to have a car, however!
 
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Dec 11th, 1999, 03:00 PM
  #3
Lori
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Amy,
The San Clemente area is very nice, but it is not exactly close to LA and/or the "attractions" in that area, i.e. Universal,Hollywood or even Disneyland, altho as Disneyland is in Orange Cty it is closer to that then the others mentioned. Each of these things is a full day outing for most people. I cannot imagine doing Universal & Disneyland in one day - the driving alone can be pretty awesome (traffic wise) if you are not used to the freeways. Hollywood is pretty tacky, but I can understand tourists wanting to see it - Beverly Hills is much nicer tho!! We lived in the LA area until just recently and while I've seen all these places you mention, it hasn't been in a week or on the same day! You may be overextending yourself if you plan on doing so much. The traffic in the LA area is fierce most days, figure most things will take double the amount of time you think to get to them. As for the San Diego area, the Zoo is very large, I suppose you could go there in the a.m. and to Sea World in the p.m. The Wild Animal Park is actually not in San Diego, but north of the city (and for the life of me I cannot remember the name of the area ... it will probably come to be at midnight tonight La Jolla is just north of San Diego and a lovely area.

I'm assuming you have a specific reason to stay in San Clemente ... if you do you will just have to drive alot to the attractions, try and avoid rush hour, altho in So. CA. that is practically all the time! If you don't, then I'd consider staying a few days closer to LA and see those sights and then a few days in San Diego. The missions of San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Rey (my favorite) are very interesting and worth seeing if you are in that area. Laguna Beach is an "artsy" type of town, traffic can be murder getting through it on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) tho. The beach area is very beautiful in Laguna and worth a stop too. Dana Point is also nice and has quite a few nice places to eat too.

Also nice, if you are not from a beach area) are the piers in Huntington Beach and Seal Beach. Just driving along the coast is lovely, but be prepared to drive long distances to take in all the sights you want to see. If you can manage a few days in LA try and see the Getty Museum ... fantastic place. You will need to call them and make a car reservation, the musuem itself is free, and has utterly marvelous views of the LA basin!
 
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Dec 13th, 1999, 06:43 AM
  #4
Amy
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Thank you so much for your insights. They are much appreciated. We are staying in San Clemente b/c we exchanged our time share in Aruba this year for that week in San Clemente. We didn't feel like going back to Aruba this year & my husband has never been to that area of CA. Plus, it was one of the 1st places that became available through our time-share search. We know that we are over-extending ourselves, but that's what we usually do on our vacations! We can't help it! How far of a drive is it (with traffic) to the areas I've listed? How early should we leave in the mornings? Any more advice would be great! Thanks all!
 
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Dec 13th, 1999, 07:18 AM
  #5
Betsy
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Just got back from San Diego and had a great time. The Zoo is a definate must. Go during the week to avoid the weekend crowds. The Wild Animal Park is near Escondido. I did not have time to go, but heard it is great!
Have fun!
 
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Dec 13th, 1999, 08:44 AM
  #6
Lori
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Amy,
Thanks for answering the "why are you staying in San Clemente question". Distances can be tricky because traffic can be tricky, but it's about 35 miles from SC to Anaheim (Disneyland) but that can take over an hour (or more) depending on traffic. San Diego is about 50 miles south of SC, but you have to add more miles to where ever you are going in SD, again traffic plays a big part in the time it takes, altho SD traffic is not as bad as LA. Hollywood is about 65 miles from SC - most of which is in city traffic so that can be very slow going. Escondido is about 38 miles away,a nd probably the easiest to get to traffic wise from SC. Anytime you head into the LA area (Disneyland, Universal, etc.) expect the trip to take double whatever the mileage is. If it doesn't, hey you made out great and it was a light traffic day!!). Try and avoid the "real rush hour" altho rush hr seems to drag on forever. By that I mean, start out after 9 a.m. and don't try and return between 4 and 6 p.m. Those times would probably be the worst.
You never know, you may hit a week when traffic is light - it does happen!! Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, Rt. 1) is a pretty route along the ocean, but it can get really bogged down, espiecally through Laguna. Depending upon where you are coming from traffic may/may not be an issue but the freeways can be nervewracking to those that are not used to them!
 
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Dec 13th, 1999, 10:03 AM
  #7
kkam
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Now that the 405 has a 24 hour carpool lane, things have become much better in L.A. The same is true for the 304 which should make Universal easier. My big concern with this is where's Hollywood?? You know that there's very little to see there and it's rundown and not exciting. I hope you are refering to the actual studios and not the Hollywood area of L.A. At any rate, that trip will be your biggest challenge from San Clemente and the one that I would cut out entirely. Too time consuming and not much to see.
 
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Dec 13th, 1999, 12:32 PM
  #8
Amy
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Wow-am I glad that I found this sight. The help that I have been getting is priceless! Thank you to everyone who has given me such great suggestions! We are really looking forward to going & your help is so much appreciated!
Lori-thank you so much for your approx driving times & when to avoid rush hour! Kam-thanks for your advise on Hollywood. We will take all of that into consideration.
As far as the "nervewracking" part of driving: I drive in New York City alot, so I am not too worried about that aspect & also don't mind driving an hour or so to get where we need to go.
Are there things (besides Sea World & the Zoo) that we can combine into a full day? I need more advice about that aspect of our trip! Thanks again guys!
 
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Dec 13th, 1999, 02:44 PM
  #9
Lori
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Amy,
I'm glad I've been able to help some. If you drive in NYC you should be OK! I've driven in NYC, LA, London & Paris and find them all about equally wild at times! As for combining places, that's a hard thing to do, mostly because the attractions you want to see are all-dayers, and fairly spread apart. Disneyland really can't be done in a hour or two, neither can Universal so combining them would not be feasible I don't think. They are not close to one another either. You could probably do Hollywood (nothing much to see, but it's a tourist thing to do I guess, it really is seedy), and then go over to Beverly Hills, check out Rodeo Drive, (couple of miles away, but another world from Hollywood), drive about a bit,check out the lovely mansions, etc. You could probably then go to the Getty Museum in mid-afternoon if that interests you (but you need to get a parking reservation - call them several months ahead of time) You would be quite close if you were in Beverly Hills. The Museum is just off the 405 (San Diego Freeway). The museum has great views and you can watch how bad (or good) the traffic is on the freeway below and gauge when you want to leave, you'd need to take the 405 south anyway at that point! I'd also try and see the two missions near San Clemente, they are lovely and give you a sense of So. Ca. culture and history. Also try and make some time to walk around in Laguna Beach. You probably won't be able to do everything, so it comes down to prioritizing what is most important to you. I sincerely hope the traffic won't be too bad, as the other poster said they have car pool lanes going all the time now so that will make it easier too, unfortunately the "scenic route", PCH does not have that luxury! You never know with traffic in the LA area tho, plan for the worst and be pleasantly surprised if it's moving fast is my belief! There were times when we got from our house to Dodger Statium (about 32 miles) in 35-40 minutes and other times when it took 1 1/2 hours .. go figure! You might want to stop at Fashion Island in Newport Beach too for a bit of shopping - it's a lovely mall on a hill, with views to the ocean. It's right off PCH as well. One thing I would suggest doing is studing your map real well before taking off, jot down a couple of exits before the one you plan on taking so that you don't end up doing some erratic driving when you suddenly spot your exit ramp! I used to drive during rush hour and would curse the tourists who suddenly decided to cross over 4 lanes of traffic so as not to miss their exit! If you can handle NYC traffic I think you'll be OK tho. I can't think of anything to see in San Clemente itself, Richard Nixon used to have a home there when he was President tho, altho I have no idea who has the house today. Incidentally, the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda is very interesting and worth seeing if you get out that way, again tho that is a long ride from where you will be. Try and find a bit of time for walking on the beach, the piers, etc. and enjoying the ocean, it's better than the man made sights!
 
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Dec 13th, 1999, 04:09 PM
  #10
Debbie
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Amy - if you have time, this would make an interesting day trip - tour the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach, then take a boat ride over to Catalina Island-you can catch the boat to Catalina at the Queen Mary. Plenty of places to eat on Catalina-from casual to elegant. The Queen Mary also has 2 very nice restaurants on board; one's casual, the other dressier.

Have fun-you have lots to pick from !!
 
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Dec 13th, 1999, 11:51 PM
  #11
Mike
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Amy, you're already going to be in one of the most beautiful areas of Southern California, so I agree with the above posters about Hollywood: SKIP IT, PERIOD!! It is tacky, downtrodden and seedy and certainly NOT worth seeing a bunch of idiotic celebratory metal stars on the boulevard or the tacky footprints in front of Mann's Chinese. Beverly Hills, on the other hand, is GREAT for walking, etc.! By the way, as long as you're down in Orange County and near the Laguna area, be sure to stop for lunch or dinner at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point! It's worth the effort!! After this trip you'll probably need to return to Aruba to "chill out," as they say! Please make a posting upon your return!
 
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Dec 14th, 1999, 07:19 AM
  #12
Bill Irving
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A couple of things you might be able to combine while in LA, is Hollywood (about an hour or 2 at the most of just walking the area & the Chinese Theater) & the LaBrea tar pits & museum if you are interested in that. Or near the LA coliseum are a number of museums including natural history, Science museum with a very nice Imax theater. Also right there is the USC campus & they have a fantastic rose garden there, & if it is in bloom, the sight & smells there are delightful.
 
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Dec 14th, 1999, 07:24 AM
  #13
Amy
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Hi again! You guys have been the best! I guess the majority rules & we will take Hollywood off of our LONG list of things to do. Your advice & suggestions have been great & I only wish that I had found this sight sooner! I guess I will have to go back to Aruba to "chill out" once this vacation is over (to quote MIke)! But, this is the way we like our vacations most of the time-jam packed with fun stuff to do. I always feel guilty going on vacation & relaxing-which is one of the main reasons we AREN'T going to Aruba again this year!
If anyone else can think of any other ideas, suggestions, etc, they will be much appreciated.
You all have been great!
Thanks so much!!
Amy
 
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Dec 14th, 1999, 09:01 AM
  #14
Lori
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Amy,
When you get back pleaase post a "what we did on our vacation" report, we'd like to know what you did and how you liked it! I always enjoy reading about the trips we all had input on!!! Enjoy yourselves
 
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Dec 14th, 1999, 09:28 AM
  #15
Amy
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Lori,
I will definitely post a report to all of you when we get back from our vacation. I am sure that we will have fun, even if we don't get to do everything we want.
Thanks again for everything!
Amy
 
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Dec 14th, 1999, 11:45 PM
  #16
Mike
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By the way, Amy, I have been to Aruba myself but would NOT return there! While the Marriott was a beautiful hotel and the beach was fine, the rest of the island was hideous looking, at least to me! If, as you say, you really want to keep busy on a vacation AND see some spectacular scenery island-wise, then by all means be sure to place Oahu, Hawaii on your list of future adventures!! (Also, you can most definitely SKIP what Bill Irving said above. The USC area is even far more WORSE than Hollywood -- a definite NO-NO!!).
 
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Dec 15th, 1999, 07:31 AM
  #17
Amy
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Mike,
Thanks for the tip on USC. We'll definitely keep that in mind.
As far as Aruba goes, we really liked it. Otherwise, we wouldn't have bought time-share there. I didn't think that it was "hideous" looking. I thought that the beaches & water were breath-taking. There just wasn't all that much to do if you weren't into gambling. We did enjoy snorkeling (it was incredible there) & relaxing by our beautiful pool.
We will definitely keep Hawaii on our list of future vacations. We are always looking for somewhere new & exciting to go & our time-share has tons of places to stay there.
Thanks again,
Amy
 
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Dec 15th, 1999, 07:48 AM
  #18
Bill Irving
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Sorry you feel that way about the USC area & Aruba. The new (openned last year) Science & Industry museum with the Imax theater is worth a visit if interested in that, but not worth a special trip from San Clemente, but if you want to combine some things in LA this is a possibility. Another possibility for spending a few hours in the LA area is a walk along the Venice beach area, or the Santa Monica pier, or a drive alond PCH up to the Malibu area. Sorry if you don't like those either Mike, because of all the characters & diversity in those areas, but that is a tourist thing to do, as well as some of the locals even doing it. Let me add that this is my humble opinion only, as well as Mike being able to have his opinions. Different people have different likes. Amy, when we travel, we also like to do the most we can in the time allotted. We have been to Disneyland, Knott's Berry farm, & Universal on consecutive days(never been able to do more than 1 park in a day though). There have been numerous times when we have been at these amusement parks from openning time to closing time. We are in our mid-forties (our kids are pre-teen) & have always traveled like that so are used to it. Whatever you do, have fun & I look forward to your report upon your return
 
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Dec 15th, 1999, 11:56 PM
  #19
Mike
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Venice? Santa Monica Pier?
B O R I N G ! ! Amy, I'd rather buy a timeshare in Aruba myself than waste my time with the above!!
 
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Dec 16th, 1999, 08:23 AM
  #20
Sam Who
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Have we encountered another alter-ego for Sam Hempell, but this time removed from the East Coast & dropped in the West Cost? Or is this just another ego?
 
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