Take A Trip To One Of The Most-Visited California Beaches For Fun Water And Outdoor Adventures

California boasts 840 miles of scenic coastline. From the sandy, sunny beaches of Southern California to the cooler shores up north, the California coast is undeniably diverse and beautiful. 

One California beach, in particular, is one of the most-visited beaches in the Golden State. With close to 2.5 million guests per year, this 3.5-mile stretch of sandy shoreline is popular for many reasons. Not only is San Onofre State Beach a stunning natural setting, but it's also the perfect place for fun water and outdoor adventures. 

Located in San Diego County, three miles south of San Clemente, San Onofre State Beach offers quite a variety of fun things to do. In fact, according to the San Onofre Parks Foundation, "San Onofre offers an opportunity to appreciate what Southern California's entire coastline may have looked like 100 years ago." Visitors to the area can swim in the ocean, surf world-class waves, hike trails with scenic views, mountain bike through a canyon, and search the coastline for unique wildlife, including migratory birds and wild deer. Overall, San Onofre State Beach's gorgeous landscape is definitely worth exploring.

Things to do in San Onofre State Beach

There's no shortage of things to do at San Onofre State Beach. Whether you're in the mood for getting wet or staying dry, the shoreline is full of outdoor adventures. 

Swimming is a fun pastime, of course, but San Onofre State Beach is really popular for surfers. Surfers of all skill levels will love the waves at Old Man's, also known as San Onofre State Surfing Beach. The waves are slow rolling and perfect for longboarding beginners but are also enjoyable for seasoned veterans. "It was here that 'beach boys' like Hobie Alter, Dewey Weber, and Dale Velzy helped shape the sport and culture of California surfing for generations to come," says the San Onofre Parks Foundation.

Another popular beach, Trestles, is known to have one of the best surf breaks in the United States, but this one is better suited for experienced surfers. It's easy to get to Trestles from Old Man's with a walk along the sand.

In addition to swimming and surfing, San Onofre State Beach also offers hiking and biking adventures. After all, California is one of the best states in the U.S. for hitting the trails, and hikers at San Onofre Beach have plenty of paths from which to choose. Two popular ones are the Bluffs Beach Trail (3.3 miles) and the San Mateo Canyon Loop Trail (2.8 miles). The former is considered easy and offers excellent ocean views. The latter is moderate and is also a fun trail for mountain bikers.

Where to stay near San Onofre State Beach

San Onofre State Beach is a good day trip from Los Angeles, but there's no need to rush off. Camping enthusiasts are in luck as they can choose from two options: The San Onofre Bluffs and the San Mateo Campground both offer overnight camping and are considered part of San Onofre State Beach.

The San Onofre Bluffs is home to a campground with several dirt trails that lead beachgoers from the bluffs to the beach. Amenities include fire pits, picnic tables, cold outdoor showers, and chemical toilets. 

The San Mateo Campground is located inland, but a 1.5-mile hiking or mountain biking trail connects the campsite to Trestles Beach. All campsites here offer picnic tables, fire pits, hot indoor showers, and flush toilets. Nature lovers will particularly appreciate this area. The San Mateo Creek flows towards the ocean, creating an environment suitable for rare and endangered species. Another unique sight is the whales, sea lions, and dolphins, which are sometimes visible from shore.

Alternatively, there are a few hotels in the area. One excellent choice for adventurous travelers is the San Clemente Inn. It's a little over a mile from San Onofre State Beach, and active guests will likely love the hotel amenities. In addition to a fitness center, you can keep the adventure going by taking a dip in the pool or competing in a game of tennis, basketball, pickleball, nine-hole mini golf, corn hole, ping pong, and more.