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Sep 14

Visiting Dana Point

Dana Point Sailing

Sailing at Dana Point

By Deanne Hollis-DeGrandpre

Dana Point is a great day trip from the Inland Empire, especially when you want to beat the summer heat. It seems there’s an endless supply of activities, whether you feel like flying a kite, kayaking, learning to sail, renting a jet ski, or exploring  tide pools with the kids.  Since my kids were young, I have taken them tide pooling.  It is a great opportunity to teach them how to respect wildlife and show them a side of nature less travelled.  Low tide is the best time for exploring.  Be sure to plan ahead and check the tide schedule before leaving…and remember that the sea life is protected and cannot be destroyed or removed.

Dana Point Harbor Baby Beach

Baby Beach at Dana Point Harbor

Budget Activities

If you’re on a budget, the Ocean Institute in Dana Point Harbor is open weekends.  It houses an aquarium with a touch tank.  Although not as big as Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, it provides a nice afternoon family trip for a nice price!  After visiting the institute, take the kids to the baby beach, then into Mariner’s Village Boardwalk for lunch or some ice cream.

Grunion hunting!  Some of my best memories as a child growing up in Southern California are being at the beach, staying up very late at night, and waiting for the grunion to show.  From March through August, the grunion make their way up onto the beach during high tide, usually on a night of a full or new moon, to mate and lay their eggs.  Be sure to check out the latest news regarding grunion runs before you go, there are some months you cannot take the fish.  Doheny State Beach offers camping near Dana Point Harbor, a great way to spend a summer weekend.

Money to Spend!

If you happen to have some money burning a hole in your pocket, there are a number of activities to entertain you at Dana Point.  Catch a whale watching cruise (best time is November through April) or the Catalina Express ($68.50/adult, round trip) and spend the day, or better yet — the weekend, on Catalina Island.  The island was once owned by the Wrigley family.  Or sail on an 82-foot schooner for $75 per person on Saturdays. Top off your sail with a glass of wine at the Ritz-Carlton’s bar or at Eno, a wine tasting room in the hotel.

Annual Events at Dana Point

Annual events in the area include the Doheny Blues Festival usually during May, and the Ocean Institute’s Festival of Tall Ships during September.  Another not-to-be-missed annual event is Dana Point Harbor’s Christmas Boat Parade.

About the author

TD Hollis