I live in San Clemente so have had plenty of opportunities to visit the Pier area. It is quite beautiful and fun to watch surfers on the north side of the Pier. You can park further north at North Beach and walk the beach trail to the Pier area (about a mile). Then head up Del Mar to explore the cute shops and enjoy the restaurants. Nicks is terrific. The little Crepe shop across from the pier is fun too. Don't miss the Friends of the Library book store in the back of the public library - great prices on books!