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Cozy Appeal on the Avenue

Ambience Abounds on San Clemente Street Where Food, Browsing Beckon


San Clemente's Avenida del Mar has a cozy atmosphere that puts you at ease and makes you feel right at home. Old-fashioned shops, complete with window awnings, provide a kind of small-town charm that is hard to find elsewhere in south Orange County.

Benches sit in the shade under trees, cars are angle-parked on the street and pedestrians stroll the sidewalks window-shopping or restaurant hunting.

Parking on Del Mar can be a challenge on weekends, but neighboring streets have parking, and nearby Avenida Cabrillo has two public parking lots.

Farm-Fresh Produce

If you do most of your grocery shopping on Sundays and if you're an early riser, San Clemente's Farmers Market ([949]) 361-0735) is the place to be. Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the market runs along a portion of Avenida del Mar and features California-grown fruits and veggies. The street itself is not closed off; it's a sidewalk sale. You can do some window-shopping and pick up fresh fruit, veggies, flowers and fresh fish.

All vendors are certified by the Department of Agriculture or have a health permit.

A Bite to Eat

If you've slept in and are starting your day with lunch, check out the Shore House Cafe, (201 Avenida del Mar, [949] 498-3936, Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.). Bring a hearty appetite, because even the menu warns you that the eatery has a reputation for "enormous portions."

If you are really hungry, a sandwich is in order. Recently, a patron blurted out, "It's huge!" when the waitress brought her sandwich to the table.

The Philly Steak Hoagie would be enough to feed even the hungriest person. Swiss cheese drips from under the chewy roll and onto the plate. If chicken is your preference, you can't go wrong with the chicken club sandwich. It almost makes the Philly Steak Hoagie look small. A tender piece of grilled chicken rests between pieces of toasted bread, along with big pieces of bacon.


On the off-chance you have room for dessert, look no further than the Cowabunga Micro Ice Creamery and Java Hut, an ice cream lover's delight (211-C Avenida del Mar, [949] 366-2116, daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.). As you walk in you'll quickly notice the surfing-cow motif. It is an odd combination, but it fits the ice cream parlor's personality. Pictures of surfers line the walls, which are white with black spots.

All of the ice cream flavors, from Pipeline Pistachio to Boogie Board Banana, are made on the premises. Pick a topping and watch as it is mixed by hand on a frozen slab of marble and served to you in a waffle cone.

Reading Material

On lazy Sundays, thoughts often turn to reading. Village Book Exchange, (211-A Avenida del Mar, [949] 492-1114, Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) is next door to Cowabunga's.

The used-book store has been a San Clemente fixture for nearly two decades. Longtime customer Karen Palmer recently bought the store from its original owners.

The store is filled to the brim with used paperbacks in countless categories. Whether you are looking for romance or mystery, true crime or fantasy, you'll find it. Got some books you want to get rid of? Stop by and make some spending money or trade them in for store credit.


If you're looking for some decorative accessories, collectibles or antique furniture, Penny 'n' Sue's should be your last stop of the day. The boutique has something for every room of your home, including patio and garden. Pick up a water fountain, a nice chair or armoire. Need a headboard for your bed or a dresser? They've got that too.

As if all that weren't enough, they've got tons of knickknacks. You might not want to splurge on a big item, but they have plenty of things you can get for yourself or someone else.

City Origin

In 1925, Ole Hanson, a former mayor of Seattle, bought 2,000 acres and designed a community he called San Clemente, "the Spanish Village."


Small Town Shopping

1. Farmer's Market, along Avenida del Mar south of Ola Vista, (949) 361-0735

2. Cowabunga Micro Ice Creamery and Java Hut, 211-C Avenida del Mar, (949) 366-2116

3. Penny n' Sue's Antiques, 2188 Avenida del Mar, (949) 492-6027

4. Village Book Exchange, 211-A Avenida del Mar, (949) 492-1114

5. Shore House Cafe, 201 Avenida del Mar, (949) 498-3936.


* Getting there

If you're southbound on Interstate 5, take the Avenida Palizada exit, turn right on Palizada, make a left on El Camino Real, then turn right onto Avenida del Mar.

If northbound on I-5, take the Avenida Presidio exit, turn left and go two blocks. Turn right onto El Camino Real, then make a left onto Avenida del Mar.

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