Stand-up paddling enthusiasts and newcomers take to the waters off Baby Beach at a past Mickey Muñoz Mongoose Cup event. Photo by Alan Gibby
Stand-up paddling enthusiasts and newcomers take to the waters off Baby Beach at a past Mickey Muñoz Mongoose Cup event. Photo by Alan Gibby

By Eric Heinz

Although shark activity seems to have slowed down a bit since the relentless sightings and beach advisories in May, they could be hanging around a bit longer, and if that happens, people will need an alternative to enjoying summer on the shore or lakeside.
The ocean is arguably the most treasured feature of San Clemente, but it can’t be fully enjoyed when the risk or the thought of apex predators abound, it may give people peace of mind to try something different.

Within an hour’s drive at most, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor summer activities in or near South Orange County.

Water Alternatives  

1.Lake Elsinore
Probably the largest lake in the immediate area, Lake Elsinore offers opportunities for summer fun for the whole family. About an hour’s drive through Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano, there are plenty of fishing opportunities as well as lessons on various watercrafts, boating and more. Lake Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita Lake are closer alternatives, but different rules apply for each. Visit www.lake-elsinore.org , www.lakemissionviejo.com or www.cityofrsm.org for more information.

2.Baby Beach/Dana Point Harbor
Technically, it’s not a “lake,” but Baby Beach behaves as such in the enclosures of Dana Point Harbor with calm waters that are hospitable to stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking around the harbor or relaxing on the sand for sunbathing.
The harbor also offers rentals for those laid back sports as well as jet skiing. More information is available at www.danapointharbor.com under “Activities.”

On the Shore

1. Interesting Parks

Parks in San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano have some of the most enchanting views in the area. At Pines Park in Dana Point, people can get a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, let the kids frolic on the playground or enjoy a picnic. The same can be said of San Clemente’s Linda Lane Park, a favorite among locals. San Juan’s Reata Park is an escape from the hustle and bustle of the main city thoroughfares. Nearby Casper’s Wilderness is a great place to take a hike with the family.

2. Join a Beach Cleanup

Even though the ocean shores of San Clemente and Dana Point may still have lingering sharks, the beaches constantly need help with cleaning. Some of the prominent beach cleanup organizations in the area include San Clemente Beach Conservation Program (SCBCP), Surfrider Foundation and OC Coastkeeper. Visit SCBCP on Facebook, www.surfrider.com and www.coastkeeper.org/beach_cleanup for updates on current cleanup days.

3. Fire Pits

As long as you keep it in one of the city’s designated enclosures, barbecues and fire pits are allowed on the beaches. Like a series of torches signifying the start of summer, the fire pits are typically all burning from San Onofre to Dana Point Harbor each night. San Clemente beaches and pier are open from 4 a.m. until midnight. If you can find one during the Fourth of July celebrations, they’re a great way to keep warm under a sky bursting with color.

4.For Adults

Many restaurants and bars offer trivia nights, live music and other activities. A list of bars is available at the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce’s website, www.scchamber.com; the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce’s website, www.danapointchamber.com; or the San Juan Chamber of Commerce, www.sanjuanchamber.com. Or use Yelp to find various websites and information. There’s usually something going on every week in each of these South County cities.

Read the rest of the 2017 Go See Do special section here:

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