"Relatively unknown outside southern California circles only a few decades ago, San Clemente stepped into the world arena in 1969 when Richard M. Nixon purchased property that once belonged to one of the city’s founding fathers. The estate soon became known as the Western White House, and whenever the president and his family occupied it, the network news anchors were sure to mention San Clemente in every broadcast. With much of that fame, if not notoriety, in its past, San Clemente today is mainly a community of contented retirees and summer vacationers. Rumors, rumblings, and nearby multimillion-dollar property deals, however, indicate that the “Spanish Village” is on its way to resort status and will no doubt begin attracting greater numbers of visitors all year to its pleasant climate and recreational opportunities. If San Clemente is about to arrive, Dana Point is already there. Named after Richard Henry Dana, who first came to these shores in 1835 aboard the brig Pilgrim and later wrote the classic adventure romance Two Years before the Mast, Dana Point plays well its role of romantic seaport. Everywhere are reminders of the city’s nautical heritage, from its fine little maritime museum to the exquisite sailing replica of the Pilgrim moored in the $20-million harbor. Dana Point is a shipshape town, with sandy beaches and grassy parks shaded by fan palms and eucalyptus trees. Although malls, plazas, shops, and galleries stand here and there, the focal point of interest for most travelers is the beautiful harbor, where there is plenty to see and do, including picnicking, boating, shopping, dining, exploring tide pools, or just relaxing on the beach. For anyone driving the Pacific Coast, Dana Point is significant as the starting place for California Highway 1, the state’s premier coastal route. It hugs the Pacific shores for most of its length, skimming over coastal lowlands and along the edges of mesas, winding switchback by switchback up craggy mountains, descending into the canyons and valleys of rivers and creeks, twisting through forests, hanging precariously on cliff faces, and straightening out on the broad marine terraces and poppy-dotted meadows. This is the Pacific Coast Highway, famous or infamous, depending on your point of view and the hurry you’re in. Those of us who enjoy its quirks and kinks say, “Welcome to it.” Those who prefer the rush and crush of freeway driving say, “You’re welcome to it.” This eTrail includes information on lodging, campgrounds, RV parks, restaurants, entertainment, shopping, and outdoor activities near these coastal cities."