Hang Loose in San Clemente

Though the weather did not entirely cooperate, a week in this classic California beach town is still very laid-back. When the sun did come out, it was almost perfect.


Hang Loose in San Clemente

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by davilin88 on November 3, 2005

Even though it was overcast most of the week it was fairly warm, so beaching it was at the top of the list, especially when the sun did come out. The tide pools at Doheny and Dana Point are only 5 miles away, Wild Animal Park is about a 40-minute drive. San Clemente a is Southern California beach town to the hilt, with plenty of surfing spots (bring a wetsuit), and a great pier.${QuickSuggestions} The dining guide in S.C. Inn had an ad for lobster night at Tommy's, $20 for a whole lobster. This deal is no longer in effect, but because we had the book from the resort, they did honor it. If you drive to any city beaches, make sure you have quarters for parking meters.${BestWay} We had our car, and glad of it. Southern California is not friendly to those with no wheels.

San Clemente Inn

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by davilin88 on November 3, 2005

Best Things Nearby:
Beach, and another beach, and another... well, you get the idea. Also, downtown S.C. Dana Harbor and too many So-Cal attractions to list.

Best Things About the Resort:
There was a friendly staff. While units are small, they are nicely furnished and comfortable. There are two hot tubs, one for adults only, and a small pool.

Resort Experience:
We arrived at 1pm on check-in day to get a choice of units. First, we wanted an ocean view, so went to look at a northwest-facing unit in Building 1, which we were told had a view. That is stretching the definition of ocean view to the breaking point, and there was not much light. We settled on a southwest-facing room in Building 3, overlooking the adult spa and lawn (nice landscaping). This unit got sun most of the day. If you are in Building 2 or 4, your view from the balcony, which is nice and large, will be of Building 1 or 3, not very attractive. The beach is a pretty good hike down hill (steep uphill coming back), not the short walk, I'd been told. If you drive down, take lots of quarters for meters, as it's $1 an hour. It is a nice beach with a snack bar called Shleppy's and surfers.

San Clemente Inn
2600 Avenida Del Presidente
San Clemente, California, 92672
(949) 492-6103

Gordon James Grille

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by davilin88 on November 3, 2005

This was our big splurge for the week, and a good choice. Being in a beach town, of course we wanted seafood, and Gordon James delivered terrific mesquite grilled shrimp (for Linda) and salmon (for me). The atmosphere was elegant but relaxed, service was very good, and the owner was there to make sure everything was just right and offer friendly exchanges with guests. The tab for the two of us was about $75. If you can only afford one splurge, this is the place.
Gordon James Grille
110 N. El Camino Real
San Clemente, California
949/498-9100

Avila's El Ranchito

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by davilin88 on November 16, 2005

One thing that most restaurants in S.C. have in common is a wide screen TV showing surf videos. They're everywhere, part of the town's ambiance. Anyway, for very good Mexican seafood in a lively atmosphere at a decent price, this is your place. There are also all the usual Mexican menu dishes, but it's shrimp for us, and it's fixed several different ways here. Service is good and friendly, Margaritas good and ample, and of course, surf videos.
Avila's El Ranchito
204 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, California, 92672
(949) 498-5000

San Diego Zoo,s Wild Animal Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by davilin88 on November 13, 2005

It's a zoo without cages. Herd animals such as wildebeest, gazelles, zebras, giraffes, and rhinos have a huge area to roam, while predators are in separate areas. The Wgasa Bushline Railway gives visitors an overview as it circles the park, stopping for photo ops when the knowledgeable and entertaining guide spots something of interest, such as a male gazelle trying to lure a female into his harem. For an extra fee, you can ride in a truck (photo safari) out on the plain for a closer look. For the more adventurous, there's the Roar and Snore overnight camping. Shows: such as the elephant show, which demonstrates care of these giants; frequent flyers, featuring endangered birds such as a peregrine falcon, South American condor and others; and keeper talks occur throughout the day. There are several aviaries, some of which you can walk through, and for $2 in lorikeet landing you can buy a cup of nectar and these brightly colored birds will land on your hand to feed. Keeper talks feature different animals around the park. One we saw featured an African cat called a caracol, about the size of a greyhound, capable of 12 foot leaps and amazing acrobatics in the air to catch birds. Petting zoo, gorillas, and of course souvenir shops add to a great time for everyone.
Wild Animal Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Road
Escondido, California, 92027
(760) 747-8702

Ocean Institute

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by davilin88 on November 16, 2005

This was a very loosely organized tour. More formal tours are available on weekends, I'm not sure of the cost. The Ocean Institute is a working classroom for youths, but the tour is fascinating for adults as well. There are three boats used for research and education, which the weekend tours explore in more detail. We just had a look at them from shore. The institute itself contains underwater exploration equipment, models of the ocean floor, and several aquariums. One contains several species of sharks (small ones), and another contains moon jellies, eerie and beautiful. The tour took about 1½ hours and was time well spent.
Ocean Institute
24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive
San Clemente, California, 92629
(949) 496-2274

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