Exploring a So-Cal Gem, Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

What was once the sprawling 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival coastal residence of Ole Hanson, founder of the city of San Clemente and one-time mayor of Seattle, is now one of Southern California’s gems: an award-winning nonprofit cultural center and historic landmark where Orange County and San Diego meet. Its ideal location perched on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean makes it a unique place to visit and to enjoy innovative concerts, theater performances, lectures, exhibitions, and films, or to simply meet friends for a tranquil garden stroll.

Historic Home & Gardens

The historic home was built in 1927 by famed European architect Carl Lindbom, known for building Spanish Colonial Revival properties for Southern California’s most elite (including the estate known as the “Western White House” where Richard Nixon spent much of his presidency). The property boasts 2.5 acres of water-wise gardens representing a variety of purposes, such as a “Native Bowl Garden” that shows visitors an example of an artful landscape exclusively using plants that are native to Southern California, and an Acjachemen Garden which is dedicated to showcasing plants used for culinary, medicinal, and functional purposes by the indigenous Acjachemen people who were the area’s primary inhabitants for thousands of years.

The ideal California coastal climate enables year-round blooms — with some of the most striking action happening in January as hundreds of agave plants burst forth with fiery orange-red blossoms.

Even with changes in restrictions and regulations from Orange County and the State of California, Casa Romantica’s gardens are permitted to remain open to the public as a safe destination for relaxing outdoor recreation.

Wedding Venue

Casa Romantica is the perfect place to create memories that last a lifetime. The historic bluff-top estate is an intimate and unique venue that hosts more than 60 weddings each year.

A curated selection of vendors have the exclusive right to provide food, beverages, and rentals at Casa Romantica. The list includes local favorites to San Clemente such as Carbonara Catering, Iva Lee’s, and Sundried Tomato American Bistro along with popular catering companies 24 Carrots Catering, Creme de La Creme, and White House Catering to create the perfect menu.

Site fees for weddings at Casa Romantica have a philanthropic (and tax-friendly) benefit of sustaining the nonprofit’s mission.

Cultural Center & Non-Profit Organization

Casa Romantica’s mission as a premier southern California cultural center is to provide programs in arts, music, history, horticulture, and literature to people of all ages. Many of the programs are offered at little to no cost due to generous underwriters and support from community members, including the critically-acclaimed Music Festival & Academy and the Summer Dance Workshop, both of which are tuition-free for students of all skill levels.

In addition to its artistic programs, Casa Romantica is a key field trip destination for 3rd and 4th graders in south Orange County school districts. The nonprofit’s educational programs are especially critical to benefit underserved children, 26% of whose families receive public assistance in San Clemente alone. Donations to Casa Romantica enable the organization to provide its children’s educational programs for free to local schools as well as to the public.

Even with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Casa Romantica has been able to continue fulfilling its mission by providing a mix of virtual and outdoor onsite programming.

“We have always been fortunate to bring exceptional arts and educational experiences to our community in one of Orange County’s most beautiful destinations,” says Executive Director Amy Behrens. “Despite the challenges that 2020 brought, it opened up new opportunities for Casa Romantica’s mission to expand beyond place — and we are proud to be an open, inviting, and inspiring resource for our southern California community.”

Plan Your Next Visit

Whether you want to discover Orange County history, explore lush gardens on a coastal walk, tour a wedding venue, or support a local nonprofit, Casa Romantica truly has something for everyone. Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is open to the public Tuesday through Thursday from 10 AM – 4 PM and Friday through Sunday from 10 AM – 2 PM, closed on Monday. General admission is $5, and is free for children ages 12 and under, active duty military (with ID), and members of Casa Romantica.

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens
415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 498-2139

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