Southern Calif. Coast

Orange Coast is the name of the cities that hug the 40 miles of Pacific Ocean shoreline in Orange County. The four we will visit in this gallery are, from south to north: San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach.

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1 Woman Surfer Riding A Wave in San Clemente, California

The waves along San Clemente’s beaches are so popular among surfers that the city has become a hub for several surfing publications and equipment manufactures. And as you’d expect, several famous surfers were raised riding these swells on the Pacific Ocean.

225 Avenida Califia, San Clemente, CA 92672
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2 Downtown Library Clock Tower in San Clemente, California

San Clemente, California, has about 60,000 residents, wonderful beaches and a quaint downtown with mission architecture such as this bell tower on the library. The city became famous when President Richard Nixon purchased a home here that he called La Casa Pacifica because it overlooked the Pacific Ocean. He used it as the Western White House until he resigned in 1974 and then he sold it in 1980.

242 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente, CA 92672
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3 City Father’s Casa Romantica in San Clemente, California

After a successful career as a politician, which included being the mayor of Seattle, Ole Hanson purchased land overlooking the Pacific, built an elaborate seven bedroom home he called Casa Romantica and called the new town he founded San Clemente. He also insisted that any new building in the area be designed using a Spanish Mission Revival style.

415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, CA 92672
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4 Marine Monument at Park Semper Fi in San Clemente, California

This life-sized bronze statue in Park Semper Fi is Marine Sergeant Rob Elliott in his Dress Blue Uniform who is saluting his fallen comrades. The memorial park is named after the USMC’s Latin motto which translates to, “Always Faithful.” This Marine Monument was sculpted in 2005 by Bill Limebrook and Lauren Saint Vincent.

150 N Alameda Ln San Clemente, CA 92672
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5 San Clemente Pier and Palm Trees in San Clemente, California

The 1,296 foot San Clemente Pier was built by Ole Hanson, the founder of this California town, as part of his dream to create a “Spanish village by the sea.” Since 1928, the pier has been used by local fisherman, bootleggers during prohibition and countless tourists. It was destroyed by a hurricane in 1939 and a subsequent storm in 1983 but was rebuilt each time as a scenic boardwalk over the Pacific Ocean.

611 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente, CA 92672
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6 Fisherman’s Restaurant on Pier in San Clemente, California

If you want a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean to compliment your seafood meal, then check out the Fisherman’s Restaurant on the San Clemente Pier. Their prices are reasonable, the food is good and the scenery is spectacular.

611 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente, CA 92672
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7 Fishing on San Clemente Pier in San Clemente, California

The San Clemente Pier is very accommodating to fishermen because it features a bait store and sinks to clean your catch of yellowfin and spotfin croakers, “Beans” (California corbina), stingrays and sharks. It is also a perfect place for a mom to spend the day teaching her young son how to surf fish. But keep an eye on your bait or a seagull will snatch it when you turn your back.

611 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente, CA 92672
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8 San Clemente State Beach in San Clemente, California

Since the San Clemente State Beach was established in 1937, it has become extremely popular for surfers and other water sport enthusiasts, for anglers, for children who love the playgrounds, for runners and for sun worshippers who prefer to sit along the one-mile of pristine sand.

611 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente, CA 92672
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9 Bell Wall Next to Serra’s Chapel at Mission San Juan Capistrano in California

Serra’s Chapel on the left was constructed in 1782 making it California’s oldest building. The four bells, named the San Vicente, San Juan, San Antonio and San Rafael, used to hang from a campanile in the Great Stone Church until the tower was destroyed in an 1812 earthquake leaving the ruins on the right. The Bell Wall in the middle was built the following year to hold the bells but they were replaced in 2000 with reproductions created from the original molds.

31641 El Camino Real San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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10 Father Serra and Indian Boy Statue at Mission San Juan Capistrano in California

Junípero Serra Ferrer was an 18th century Franciscan friar who established nine of the 21 Spanish missions in California. Their goal was to convert natives to Christianity like this small boy who was from the Acjachemen tribe or Juaneño in Spanish. Father Serra was beatified by the Catholic church in 1988 but one step remains before he is named a saint.

31641 El Camino Real San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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11 Great Stone Church Ruins at Mission San Juan Capistrano in California

It took nine years to build a magnificent chapel at the Mission San Juan Capistrano that was 180 feet long with a bell tower that was 120 feet tall. But six years after the Great Stone Church was completed in 1806, over 40 worshipers were killed inside when it collapsed during a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The ruins hint at its former glory that once rivaled the cathedrals of Europe.

31641 El Camino Real San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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12 Original Bells at Mission San Juan Capistrano in California

These bells rang for the first time when the Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776. That date is visible on the San Vicente bell on the left. The San Juan on the right cracked when the bell tower collapsed during the 1812 Wrightwood Earthquake.

31641 El Camino Real San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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13 Migration of Swallows at Mission San Juan Capistrano in California

Thousands of people visit the Mission San Juan Capistrano each year on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, for the return of the cliff swallows. These orange-tailed birds then build their mud nests in the eaves of the mission, give birth and raise their young before migrating back to Argentina on October 23, which is called Day of San Juan. Unfortunately, most of the birds now favor a location outside of town.

31641 El Camino Real San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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14 Lilies on Reflection Pond at Mission San Juan Capistrano in California

The Mission San Juan Capistrano was abandoned and had been ransacked before Reverend St. John O’Sullivan, who was born in Louisville, was assigned to it in 1910. He personally began restoring the old Spanish mission, including the addition of two reflection pools that are filled with large orange koi that swim beneath the lily pads.

31641 El Camino Real San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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15 Mission School at Mission San Juan Capistrano in California

Spain wanted to claim the west coast of the New World called Alta California for their kingdom while also converting the indigenous people to Christianity. So, from 1769 until 1833, Franciscan Catholic priests established 21 missions that were spaced one-days-travel apart from San Diego up to Sonoma. The Mission San Juan Capistrano was built in 1776. This photo of the Mission School from the Central Courtyard demonstrates why this seventh Spanish mission is considered to be among the prettiest and best maintained.

31641 El Camino Real San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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16 Basilica Near Mission San Juan Capistrano in California

Adjacent to the Mission San Juan Capistrano is this Roman Catholic basilica that was built in 1986 using a design of the original stone church that once stood inside the mission. The dome is 85 feet tall and the bell tower stretches 104 feet which makes this church the tallest building in the city.

31520 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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17 Train Depot Dome at San Juan Capistrano in California

After visiting the Mission San Juan Capistrano, walk a short distance into town, catch a bite to eat in this mission revival train depot that was built in 1894, and then cross the Amtrak train platform for a stroll into the Los Rios district where you will find some of the oldest adobe homes in California dating back to 1794.

26701 Verdugo St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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18 Sand and Waves on Aliso Beach in Laguna Beach, California

Laguna Beach, California, is a small resort town in Orange County that is blessed with 27 beaches along seven miles of Pacific coastline. At least one of those sandy havens is bound to lure you out of your car as you drive along California State Route 1, also known as the Coast Highway. The one beach that made me grab my suntan lotion was Aliso Beach.

31131 Coast Hwy Laguna Beach, CA 92652
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19 Seagulls Swarming Woman on Aliso Beach in Laguna Beach, California

If you are ever lonesome and want to be surrounded by friends who will give you their undivided attention, then bring a bag of treats to Aliso Beach in Laguna Beach, California, and start feeding a single seagull. Soon you will be swarmed by birds in the air and on the sand at your feet. Each of them will express their forever love … until the food is gone.

31131 Coast Hwy Laguna Beach, CA 92652
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20 City Hall and Civic Center in Newport Beach, California

It is often said that transparency in politics would be a welcome breath of fresh air and this was actually achieved when the Newport Beach City Hall was built in 2013. The wavelike roofline is a curvilinear fabric that covers an open walkway leading to city departments and meeting rooms. The shell on the left is the Council Chambers. The rest of the complex includes a Civic Center, community rooms and a library which all continue the open-air design. The project cost over $125 million but the price tag is rumored to exceed $225 million by the time it is paid off in 2040.

100 Civic Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660
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21 Green Globe in McFadden Square in Newport Beach, California

The City of Newport Beach is very affluent with a medium household income over $100,000 and a medium home price that exceeds $1 million, making it the eighth most expensive real estate market in the country. To celebrate the success of their first hundred years, this green globe was placed in McFadden Square in 2006. The artist, Hank Kaminsky, created bas relief images of historic landmarks, residents and activities that have made this resort town great. A centennial timeline of major events is also revealed in the stones surrounding the artwork.

70 Newport Pier, Newport Beach, CA 92663
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22 Oceanfront Restaurants and Shops in Newport Beach, California

Several restaurants, bars and boutiques line West Oceanfront along the coast of Newport Beach, California. But if you want a bigger, power-shopping experience, then head to the Fashion Island Mall where you will find anchors like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s plus a wide range of stores and dining options.

2104 W Oceanfront, Newport Beach, CA 92663
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23 Humorous Chalkboard Sign at Bar in Newport Beach, California

Taverns and saloons often display humorous signs in order to attract thirsty patrons but I thought the chalkboard outside of the Beach Ball bar in Newport Beach, California, was particularly funny. It read: “New Drinking Game: Drink ‘Till Congress Makes Sense.”

2116 W Oceanfront, Newport Beach, CA 92663
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24 Lifeguard Headquarters on Newport Pier in Newport Beach, California

This Lifeguard Headquarters sits at the base of the 1,032 foot long Newport Pier. Beneath it is the Dory Fishing Fleet, which claims to be the last fishing cooperative in the U.S. that sells the day’s catch to the public along a beach. This historical landmark was founded in 1891, three years after the original pier named McFadden Wharf was built on Balboa Peninsula.

70 Newport Pier Newport Beach, CA 92663
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25 Little Boy Feeding Seagulls in Newport Beach, California

It was so much fun to watch this small child’s fascination with seagulls as he fed and chased them. However, when the flock became too big, he got scared and began to cry until Mom and Dad came to his rescue.

70 Newport Pier Newport Beach, CA 92663
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26 California Gull Standing on Pier in Newport Beach, California

This seagull breeds across a wide geographical territory in western North America from the Northwest Territories of Canada down to Colorado and a subspecies can be found as far east as South Dakota. However, it derives its name California gull because it migrates to western California in the winter. Smart bird!

70 Newport Pier, Newport Beach, CA 92663
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27 Sandy Beach on Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, California

Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, California, offers five miles of sand which leaves plenty of room for visitors to enjoy surfing, swimming, sunning, strolling and shopping along the Pacific coastline.

70 Newport Pier, Newport Beach, CA 92663
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28 Surfing Lessons Near Newport Pier in Newport Beach, California

As the Beach Boys first sang in 1963 on the single “Surfin USA,’ there are famous beaches all along Southern California to catch great waves. On Balboa Peninsula, the best place to test your advanced skills is at The Wedge where swells can reach up to 30 feet. If that sounds a bit too challenging, then there are plenty of resources for group or individual surfing lessons at nearby Newport Pier.

70 Newport Pier Newport Beach, CA 92663
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