To locals in the South Orange County area, San Clemente is known for its rather diverse populations. San Clemente is split by the 5 Freeway, and sits just south of Dana Point. While it is actually a San Diego county, it is considered by most to be the last town in the vast L.A. coastline. Were you to drive further south from San Clemente, you would quickly find yourself driving for many miles in unpopulated terrain and beautiful ocean viewpoints prior to arriving in Oceanside, the gateway for Camp Pendleton and the southern San Diego-based towns.
San Clemente established its original foundation on the west side (or ocean side) of the 5 freeway (and long before the freeway was even a thought!). Homes began to pop up in the mid 1920s, most of which came compliments of then-Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson, who began a 2,000 acre development for people who were “tired of the big city.”
Here, you’ll find large stretches of beach, the famous (and busy) San Clemente pier, and surfers trying the waves on just about any given day. The bungalows and cottages on this “west side” tend to be older and quite charming in nature, straddling either side of a bustling downtown area that features a number of restaurants, boutiques and a large Farmer’s Market on Sundays.
Much of the architecture here is authentic Spanish Colonial, and San Clemente’s city slogan actually is, “Spanish Village by the Sea.” While many devoted surfers call San Clemente home, the vast population here on this west side of San Clemente is made up of burgeoning families and happy retirees.
On the other side of the 5 Freeway, San Clemente climbs the hills with larger, more recently built homes and gated community living. Many homes enjoy spectacular views of the nearby ocean, and you will find beautiful restaurants and convenient shopping dotted throughout.
The Capistrano Unified School District serves San Clemente. Between public and private school offerings, the city boasts a “National Great Schools rating” of 8 out of 10 with a number of elementary schools, middle schools and two primary high schools for public and private attendees.