How to Get from San Clemente to San Diego: Your Top Guide


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San Clemente to San Diego is worth mentioning for those that are visiting for the first time.

Transportation can be a bit limited, but if you get the chance to visit you won’t be disappointed.

There is much to see and do both in San Diego and San Clemente.

We put together this travel guide for you to learn how to get there and what to expect.

FROM SAN Clemente TO SAN DIEGO Travel is Limited

Photo by Taiki Ishikawa

There are a few options to get from San Clemente to San Diego either by train or car.

Unfortunately, there is no airport that takes you directly from San Clemente to San Diego.

Traveling by Train

In San Clemente, you have the Metrolink Station and Amtrak. Both give you the option to travel from San Clemente to San Diego.

Amtrak is more direct than Metrolink.

You can find Amtrak operating from the San Clemente Pier

The address is 615 Victoria, San Clemente, CA 92672.

So, how long is the train ride from San Clemente to San Diego? It takes approximately 1hour and 28 minutes from San Clemente Pier to Santa Fe Depot (San Diego train station).

This is on Amtrak Pacific Surfliner – the most direct way. The cost varies depending on if traveling either Coach Class: $22 or Business Class: $33 one-way.

Source: Amtrak

Traveling by Car

If you are heading from San Clemente to San Diego traveling by car to some is a favorite option.

Why you may ask? Well, to some convenience, independence, comfort, and flexibility are perceived preferable with driving a car versus public transportation.

We love using DiscoverCars for cheap car rentals!

Source: DiscoverCars

They compare the best well-known car rental companies like Alamo and Enterprise finding you the best affordable prices.

You are able to see which prices are best for your budget!

If you are flying from the John Wayne Airport check out DiscoverCars.

So, how long does it take to get from San Clemente to San Diego?

It takes approximately 1 hour to get from San Clemente to San Diego by car.

This time can vary depending on the day and time of travel.

For instance, expect the Interstate 5 South freeway to be busier during work rush hour.

WHAT TO See IN San Clemente

Photo by Brandon Hoogenboom

San Clemente is a city located in Orange County, California.

San Clemente is known for its majestic blue waters and peculiar Spanish-styled architecture.

These are some things worth doing while visiting.

San Clemente State Beach & Pier

There are several beaches in San Clemente worth visiting.

Trestles Beach is a well-known surfing beach destination.

North Beach offers a beach trail for those into hiking.

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On the other hand, San Clemente State Beach is one of the more popular touristic beaches. This beach has:

  • Visitor Center
  • Restrooms
  • Showers
  • Picnic Tables
  • Camping

For those camping lovers good news is you can camp at this beach!

Camping reservations can be made online or by calling.

Reservations can be made 6 months in advance so be sure to reserve early to secure a spot!

If you do decide to go beach camping here make sure you’re prepared! We put together this guide to the best beach camping gear including beach tents to help you out.

If are checking out the beaches here you might come across San Clemente Pier.

About 2 million people visit this pier yearly.

We put a guide featuring everything there is to know about this place for you.

From where to park, what restaurants you will find at the pier as well as attractions. Be sure to check it out!

San Clemente Beach Trail

If you are into hiking then be sure to check out San Clemente Beach Trail.

The San Clemente Beach trail is approximately 2.3 miles long.

It is an easy straightforward hike.

You can find joggers, people riding their bicycles, and others walking.

If you want to get some exercise while enjoying the ocean breeze nearby this trail is worth doing.

Also, the train passes nearby so expect occasional train noise.

San Clemente Downtown District

For those wanting to discover the heart of the city, this is a place worth seeing.

The San Clemente Downtown District can be found on Avenida Del Mar and El Camino Real Street.

Here you will find restaurants, shops, and art galleries, and sometimes they have events going on.

For instance, if visiting during August San Clemente puts together a street fair.

Be sure to check out the latest events by checking out the San Clemente official site.

Old Town Center & San Clemente Outlets

The two main places to check out for shopping will be Old Town San Clemente and San Clemente Outlets:

Old Town Center

Unlike San Clemente Outlets which carry well-known brands, Old Town Center is a bit different.

Here you will find a collection of more mom and pop shops.

But, nothing beats seeing the “The Nixon Tardis.”

Which is a time machine and spacecraft (resembles more of a phone booth) that is found in Old Town Center.

Tardis stands for “Time And Relative Dimension In Space.

This iconic feature is based on the British television series Doctor Who.

For those Doctor Who fanatics be sure to take a picture with it.

San Clemente Outlets

Offers a variety of well-known brands. You can find Hurley, H&M, Columbia, Nike, Sketchers, Lululemon, and Under Armour to name a few.

As for food options, there are a variety of restaurants you can eat from here Panera, Slapfish, Ruby’s, and Blaze Pizza are a few.

WHAT TO See IN San Diego

Photo by Daniel Guerra

If you are taking the train from San Clemente to San Diego you’re final destination stop be Santa Fe Depot Train Station which is right in downtown San Diego.

We put together a 2-Day Itinerary to San Diego for you to visit the best well-known attractions.


This museum is a 9-minute walk from the Santa Fe Depot Train Station.

What’s unique is that the museum is on a naval warship!

The USS Midway operated for 47 years serving in wars like Vietnam and the Gulf War.

If you are wondering how much it cost to visit the USS Midway Museum prices will vary.

Tickets cost about $26 for adults and $18 for youth.

Be sure to check their official site to see for any changes.

Source: USS Midway Museum


Near San Diego Bay resides Seaport Village.

A collection of unique shops and dining restaurants. Built with charming Victorian and traditional Mexican architecture-styled buildings.

There is a fountain here along with a carousel.

If you are into live musicals then be sure to check out the Carousel District which often has live free music on weekends from 1 pm – 4 pm.

Coronado Ferry Center

Photo by Alejandro Luengo

Coronado Ferry Center is a place that offers ferry rides from Coronado Island to San Diego.

Coronado Island is a city in San Diego that is found across the San Diego Bay.

Coronado Island is known for its beaches, attractions, parks, and shopping.

You can either drive to get here or take the ferry.

If you decide to take the ferry and wondering how much it cost for a One-Way Ticket it is $5 for ages 4 and up.

You can purchase them on their official site or at the ferry stop.

If you are in San Diego you can take the ferry to the Coronado Ferry Center either at:

  • Broadway Pier: 990 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego CA 92101


  • Convention Center: 600 Convention Way, San Diego CA 92101

The ferry will take you to the Coronado Ferry Center.

Here you will spot several restaurants (fine dining to even fast food like Burger King), shops, and even rentals such as bikes or kayaking.

If you walk down a further bit you will end up in Centennial Park.

There is a small beach here.

*Do visit this place at night and do be sure to bring your camera!

You can spot San Diego Bayside downtown.

Its twinkling lights from the buildings illuminate the starry black sky.

Gaslamp Quarter

Photo by Photo by Stephen Leonardi

Gaslamp is found in the heart of downtown San Diego.

As you walk along the street you will see restaurants, bars, shops, clubs, hotels, theatres, and galleries.

During the weekends expect to see many tourists and locals out here.

My sister and I did a Ghost Tour here at night last month.

It was amazing learning the history of downtown San Diego.

Would recommend doing one if you get the opportunity.

Things to consider:


You will find many places that offer parking locations.

There is street parking on the side of Waterfront Park, Harbor Island, and even the hotels.

Hotel parking tends to be the priciest so I don’t recommend it as a first choice.

Ace Parking nearby some streets offers the cheapest day parking.

Of course, it will depend on the street you decide to park in as well as the time of day, but for the most part. We found Ace Parking to be the most convenient.


Expect to see homeless people walking around here.

For the most part, they don’t disturb you, but there are some people who will be yelling.

Stay in the tourist streets like Harbor Drive and India Street.

Don’t venture off from the touristic streets since some streets are known to be full of homeless.

Passing through there isn’t recommended!

Just be mindful.


Photo by Neil Soni

From San Clemente to San Diego you will find many beaches along the coast.

And San Diego is home to many popular ones.

We put together a list of the top 11 family beaches worth visiting in San Diego for you, but if you are looking to escape the tourist we put together a list of the secluded beaches to visit in the summer.

Tuna Harbor Park

Photo by Alejandro Luengo

Tuna Harbor Park is worth visiting and mentioning even though it’s as popular as the Waterfront Park.

Here is where you spot the famous “Unconditional Surrender Statue” or as others are familiar with “The Kissing Sailor.”

The statue features a navy sailor kissing woman.

The image was captured on New York’s Time Square V-Day which was Japan’s surrender leading to the end of World War 2.

You can spot people jogging, walking, and some riding bikes. Enjoy a picnic here as you view the sailboats and sea.


Traveling from San Clemente to San Diego if you get a chance is worth doing.

There’s so much to see from both these cities.

You got the San Clemente Pier along with its iconic historic Old Town Center.

In contrast, San Diego offers numerous attractions. From museums, parks, and even beaches.

These are a few of some well-known attractions. But, San Diego is also known for its zoo.

The San Diego Zoo has a variety of animals that attract visitors from all over the world.

Let us know in the comments below what are some of your favorite places in San Clemente or San Diego that you would recommend?

Until next time, safe beach travels!


Jess & Jeanette

Jess and Jeanette, two sisters who founded Unseen Beaches, were inspired by their family’s beach vacations while growing up.

Their passion lies in guiding you toward the most remarkable beach destinations across the U.S., while also protecting and preserving these beautiful coastal treasures! 🌊❤️

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