Gorgeous beaches, world-famous surfers, and a flourishing downtown hub of restaurants and shops. San Clemente, at once both quaint and hip, is quickly becoming one of SoCal’s most popular day trip destinations.
Apart from the fact that San Clemente is one of only 3 OC cities with a pier (the #1 local attraction, according to TripAdvisor), it’s also blessed with the most elegant, visually-striking landmark on the county’s coastline: Casa Romantica. Formerly the mansion of San Clemente’s founding family (built in 1927-8), the estate is now open to the public daily for tours of the architecturally-stunning home and gardens, gallery exhibitions, and a never-ending calendar of cultural and community events.
So if you’re eyeing gas prices and re-thinking that spring break road trip, here are 5 reasons you should plan a day trip to Casa Romantica (and San Clemente) instead:
- Getting there is a breeze
Hop on the 5 freeway and exit at Avenida Palizada (for southbound visitors) or Avenida Presidio (for northbound visitors), or take the scenic route along PCH/historic El Camino Real, and park onsite at Casa Romantica’s recently renovated FREE parking lot. Alternatively, you can take the San Clemente Trolley from the San Clemente Outlets (it stops at the corner of Avenida Del Mar and Avenida Granada), or take the Metrolink train (stops at the Pier Bowl every weekend).
- Lush, cool gardens and Instagram-worthy architectural details
Casa Romantica’s charming mix of stark white Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, otherworldly plant life, and colorfully-patterned tiles is beloved by lifestyle bloggers and everyone with a little #wanderlust. Most popular photo op locations? The arch-covered porch overlooking the ocean, the towering butterfly sculpture, and the iconic keyhole-shaped entrance. “Let us tell you, it is definitely beautiful,” says travel blogger couple @tatyanandilmar.
- Tons of FREE family-friendly events and community celebrations
Casa Romantica’s community celebrations bring crowds from all over Orange County. Admission is free for all visitors on the first Sunday of every month; there’s also a free concert on the third Friday of every month with complimentary coffee provided by High Tide Coffee, with additional free concerts planned for weekends during the summer in the Redmond Amphitheater by the Sea.
Kid-friendly events are supported with gifts from individuals and local businesses so that families on any budget can participate. During Capistrano Unified School District’s Spring Break (April 3-8), come to Casa Romantica for FREE daytime and/or evening events including an Artmakers Market, music and dance performances, and a family film night.
- Fresh takes on a night out with a DIVERSE lineup of artists
Anyone who says that Orange County lacks diversity clearly hasn’t been to Casa Romantica. Highlights of the cultural center’s event calendar in April include a Hip Hop Culture series with professional dance troupe Culture Shock Los Angeles and emcee/composer NOMIS the JUST; an energizing classical music performance from Japanese-American duo (and GRAMMY-nominated performers/composers) Ayane Kozasa and Paul Wianko, and a digitally-created painting exhibition with irreverently feminist artist Petra Cortright.
- It supports children, small businesses, and community
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, every dollar spent at Casa Romantica goes directly back into the community for art and educational programs, scholarships, and historic preservation. Plus, if you plan on spending more than a couple of hours in the area, you can walk from Casa Romantica right into downtown, a bustling main drag stretching from Avenida Del Mar to El Camino Real with unique eateries and boutiques.
Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is open to the public every day except Monday. Hours vary; check their website or Google Business profile prior to hitting the road. General admission is $5 (free for kids under age 13, active duty military service members, and Casa Romantica members) and you can buy day passes at https://www.casaromantica.org/plan-your-visit/. Check out the calendar of cultural events at https://www.casaromantica.org/calendar/.