Just about every Southern California coastal city likes to advertise itself as a friendly, aw-shucks kind of town. That's not always the case. But in San Clemente, Orange County's southernmost beach town, the description feels as right as a plunge in the Pacific on a hot August day.
Stroll down Avenida Del Mar, the revitalized heart and soul of this seaside burg, and you're immediately struck by two things: Everyone seems to know one another, and they're happy to introduce you to their friends. Browse A Matter of Taste, a stylish gift shop and home design store, and the owner, Kathleen Juhl- Vassiliadis, just might insist that the two of you go next door to her friend's chocolate shop for a sample.
That's a friendly town. Juhl-Vassiliadis, who opened her design store five years ago after relocating from the Lake Tahoe area, says San Clemente's hospitable spirit is what drew her here. "It truly has that small-town feel everybody talks about."