Day Trip to Dana Point

Tour a replica of the ship Pilgrim, explore two marinas; plus shopping and harborside dining
When Richard Henry Dana Jr., a seaman and a Harvard-trained lawyer, saw the area once known as Capistrano Bay in the mid-1830s, he described it as “the most romantic spot in California.” It’s now called Dana Point. Located in south Orange County, the city of more than 33,000 residents attracts visitors with its coastal bluffs, scenic waterfront, and parks. Dana Point Harbor houses 2,500 boats in two marinas and offers dining, shopping, and recreation. The city’s annual events include the Toshiba Tall Ships Festival (September 8–10, 2017), the Festival of Whales (in March), and the Doheny Blues Festival (in May).

1 What to Do

Explore marine life through interactive exhibits and tour a replica of the Pilgrim, the brig Dana sailed on, at the Ocean Institute, which caters to K–12 students during the week and is open to the public on weekends. 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive. 1-949-496-2274; ocean-institute.org.
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MORE TO DO

Come aboard Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari, where high-tech sailing catamarans have underwater viewing pods and triple-fudge brownies for snacks. 24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive. 1-949-488-2828; dolphinsafari.com.

Dana Wharf has been providing daily sportfishing and whale-watching trips here since 1971. 34675 Golden Lantern Street. 1-949-496-5794; danawharf.com.

2 Where to Shop

Browse pottery, Minnetonka moccasins, and jewelry designed by Native American artists at the family-owned White Pelican Gallery. 34475 Golden Lantern Street. 1-949-240-1991; whitepelicangallery.com.
 
PHOTO COURTESY WHITE PELICAN GALLERY
dana point

MORE PLACES TO SHOP

Find Aloha wear, Hawaiian lotions and soaps, drinkware, and adorable children’s outfits at Woody Hut, an island-inspired store. 34493 Golden Lantern Street. 1-949-443-1072; thewoodyhut.com.

3 Where to Eat

Grab brews, sandwiches, and more at The Coffee Importers, and then stay for the harborside view. 34531 Golden Lantern Street. 1-949-493-7773; coffeeimporters.com.
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MORE SPOTS TO EAT

For breakfast or lunch with a French flair, visit Bonjour Café and Bistro, where crepes and the Tahiti French toast earn raves. 24633 Del Prado Avenue. 1-949-496-6368; bonjourcafe.com.

Enjoy a burger or fish tacos at Proud Mary’s, which has been at the harbor since 1977. 34689 Golden Lantern Street. 1-949-493-5853; proudmarysdp.com.

Please call to check hours and availability of businesses, attractions, and events before you visit. City of Dana Point: 1-949-248-3500; danapoint.org. 

PHOTOS: ERIC VAN EYKE AND LORI ANDERSON

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN WESTWAYS