Diamond Resorts Riviera Shores Resort is located in Capistrano Beach, California on the Pacific Coast Highway. I have stayed in the general area before and am grateful for the chance to go back again.
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Day One Travel & Arrival at Diamond Resorts Riviera Shores Resort
As my trips to the West Coast often do today started with a flight into the area. I came in to San Diego International Airport, which is a little over 1 hour away from the resort. In just a few minutes, I was in my rental car and on the road.
I had a little time before my check in window so I stopped for a late lunch on the way. I stopped at Hunter Steakhouse and had an excellent meal.
After lunch, I was back on the road and headed to the resort. The drive to the resort is a scenic one since you take route 5 from the airport almost to the doors of the resort. This meant a view of the ocean the entire drive.
The resort is on the ocean but also close to Los Angeles, so I am sure I will check into some spots near Hollywood and see what I can find of the local history while I am here.
Once at the resort and checked in, it was time to check things out. This resort is all about the view and location. It is a smaller resort that offers many of the standard activities and features you may have come to expect from Diamond Resorts. These include a fitness center, pool, and sauna. They also have an activity center for the kids and a game room.
I had booked the one bedroom ocean view, which was a nice view. You do look across the pacific coast highway, but even with the passing cars, you still get a great view of Sunsets here.
It is a great place to stay on the beach. You just had to learn where everything was. You could get bikes and go anywhere free and the only part now knows the spas are way at the end of Phase 2, so next visit will be requested there. Definitively a new get away.
It’s a beautiful hotel near the beach. It’s close to the bridge so you can cross over to the water and close to the shopping centers and the marina to go whale watching or rent a boat.
Pretty cool place to hang out. Staff was awesome. People were friendly. Rooms were great.
I had a good stay me and my family will be going back.
There are many more reviews for the resort, but most are 5/5 star reviews without the comments.
Day Two Seeing The Area
I woke to watch the sunrise, then went in search of breakfast. Yes, I know this is the Westcoast so the sunsets here are the best, but sunrise here is still powerful because of the ocean view and the look over the water as the sun rises behind you.
I do look forward to the sunset later and I will try to make sure I am back at the resort by that time.
San Clemente is located halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles. San Clemente is often known as the little Spanish village by the sea. San Clemente has done a great job of retaining its historic small town charm. Before we start exploring, I want to give you a little of history of San Clemente, so you have some background. San Clemente was founded in 1925 by Ole Hanson. He was the former mayor of Seattle and when he founded this town; he named it after a Spanish town, San Clemente. He wanted all the architecture and all the buildings in San Clemente to have a Spanish vibe.
The city today still retains building requirements that buildings have a Spanish influence, although they’ve expanded that definition to more of a Mediterranean perspective. San Clemente is the Southernmost city in Orange County. It’s nestled in just north of Marine Corps base camp. Pendleton and San Clemente today have a population of 66,000 residents. The beach is the most popular attraction San, so that’s where we’re going to start. Then we’ll take a look at the downtown area at some of the shops and some of my favorite restaurants here.
One of the best places to start your visit to San Clemente is with a stroll down San Clemente pier.
This is located roughly in the middle of those four miles of beach. The pier itself is 1,296 feet long. It dates back to the 1920s.
It still has this old wooden construction. This is a great spot to check out the surfers from the top and take a look at that Spanish architecture of San Clemente, the Hills that slope behind the pier. As you’re strolling along the pier, check out the signs that tell you more about what you see. Just off this part of the pier, you see West Reef and the Dana Point Headlands that’s that big landmass off in the distance.
The pier is one of the best places to get a bird’s-eye view of the surfers down below. If you are going to try your hand at surfing, make sure to pay attention to the surf and swim zone at the beach. Different activities have different areas. Surfing is one thing I have never gotten into, but I enjoy watching others ride their surfboards. Once you reach the end of the pier, it’s a great place to turn back and admire the view of the hills of San Clemente.
Another popular activity on the pier is fishing. I do not stop to fish enough on my trips and vacations, maybe I will fish some while I am here.
At the base of the pier, you’ll find The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar serving up all the tasty seafood you would expect on a pier with some amazing views. It was still early, so this is where I stopped for breakfast today. I enjoyed the large seafood omelet and freshly squeezed Orange Juice. Something about that local fresh-squeezed juice that is always amazing. It does not matter if you are in Florida or California, the fresh OJ almost tastes like a different food group.
Just beyond the restaurant, you’ll find the beginning of the San Clemente trail, their version of a boardwalk. The other big defining characteristic of San Clemente is the train tracks that run right along the beach in fact it’s one of the few Southern California beaches where you can take a train to the Amtrak and the Metro link boat service San Clemente, but only with a few trains a day many of them just pass on through so if you do want to take the train to San Clemente pay particular attention to the time so you actually get the correct train that stops and picks up here. Just across the train tracks from the pier, there’s a small collection of restaurants, bars, and boutique hotels.
The tracks run close to the resort so you may hear the trains run some, but do not worry, there was no 4 AM train whistle my entire stay.
Back to the trail here in San Clemente, it runs a mile north of the pier and about another mile south of the pier. The most interesting way though, if you have to pick one spot to go, is north of the pier, and let me show you why. So heading north along this trail that goes on the inland side of the train tracks, it’s mostly unpaved but then after about a half mile on the trail, that goes from an unpaved trail in the ground to a really neat, elevated bridge. This bridge is elevated about 10 feet above the sensitive habitat.
It’s a really great bird’s-eye view and on a hot day, there’s a really cool place to hike cause it’s nice and breezy. In addition to walking and jogging, this path is pretty popular with bicycles, though if you’re going to ride it on a bike, make sure you bring one with chubby tires since much of the path is dirt.
San Clemente is home to two famous residences. The first one is Ole Hanson’s house, the founder of San Clemente. It’s now called Casa Romantica. Admission is a $5 donation. You can go inside and tour the house and a garden, and really neat ocean views from the property.
I found the art exhibit here engaging and worth the trip. The location is amazing as well to just walk around and enjoy the views.
OK, an almost hidden beach entrance and access are provided by the local military base. I had to check this out. This path, the beginning of the path, is at the intersection of El Camino Real and Cristianitos Road. It’s just basically the opening in a fence. There’s no sign to tell you that it’s here, but it’s basically right off the Interstate 5 Cristianitos Road exit. The closest landmark is a Carl’s Jr Restaurant, and it’s just street parking then you get on this path and you go down, you can see Interstate 5 there in the distance to the left is Camp Pendleton that’s the big Marine Corps base in the area, this path goes underneath the Interstate 5.
And then we’ll be at Trestles Beach, one of the most famous surf spots in all the world after crossing underneath Interstate 5. You’ll know you’re on the right track ’cause you’ll see signs that say Trestles Wetlands Preserve.
There’s also a map here that talks about all the different breaks at Trestles. It’s actually part of the San Onofre State Beach, so technically not a part of San Clemente, but most people consider San Clemente. And the reason why it’s called Trestles is that back in the day, you used to actually have to cross a trail trestle to come here because the property that you walk on is actually Marine Corps property. And so you’ll see a little sign here at the entrance that says “your enjoyment of this State Park, courtesy of the United States Marine Corps” because they agreed to open up their land for people to walk on this path to get to the beach. After about a 20-minute walk, you’ll cross this train track or trestle, which is what this beach is known for and you’ll get to the section of pristine California beach, far away from hustle and bustle, the noise of civilization. That surf breaks out there, those are the famous trestle surf breaks. There are often surfing contests here.
Oh, and I said that San Clemente was home to a second famous house. Well, it’s Richard Nixon’s house and Richard Nixon’s house. You can’t actually really see it from here, but former president Richard Nixon used to live in the hills right up above Trestles beach. At one point, the Nixon estate was for sale and you can check out images here. It was up for sale for 65 million at one point but it was off the market now.
Day Three Hollywood
I could not come this close to Hollywood and not at least spend one day checking some spots out. Visiting Hollywood Boulevard at the Oscars, in the movies, it looks glamorous, it looks glitzy, but it is not. The places to visit and see are in the larger area of Hollywood and not the boulevard itself. I think what you should know about Hollywood is that you should park at the Hollywood Highland mall.
This place has a ton of parking and you can get validation from most of the businesses in the area. Also, the maximum is $17, so you won’t end up spending an arm and a leg just for parking. – So you might be inclined to think you’re smarter than Ernest and say, “I’m not going to take his advice.” That is fine, but be prepared to get a ticket for your rental. There are too many conditions for the timeframes and covered hours for parking meters. Go with the parking at the mall and then walk out to see the stars and go to the touristy shops.
As you look at the stars, just imagine that every star to recognize a famous personality has a fee. Typically, they are 30-40K for the star and that includes lifelong maintenance. So when you look at some stars here that have multiple stars, it is interesting to do the math in your head of the investment someone made to recognize that star. Stars on the walk of fame here are broken down into categories and that is how some stars have multiple stars recognizing their talents.
This museum is for everyone who loves movies, especially classic movies. They do have the jail cell from the Silence of Lambs here, which was cool to see. That was such a strange yet powerful movie. Here they have many costumes on display from your favorite actors and actresses. Here they have some rotating exhibits and some that have lasted years.
I loved seeing Smokey and the Bandit, and the Back to the Future exhibits. They also cover Sci-Fi and Harry Potter. I enjoyed the trip and felt like I had seen enough of Hollywood to say that I have been. The Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Museum in one day.
Want this dream vacation for yourself? You need to stay at this resort and book with Tzort.