There’s no end of things to do in Dana Point. The area has long been a great spot for whale watching, for one. Native Americans camped out on the headlands for millennia and watched out not just for migrating whales, but also for traders and possible invaders. These days, whale watching remains one of the most popular things to do in the area. The gray whale migration from Alaska to Mexico occurs annually from December to March and Dana Point, particularly the Headlands area, is the best place to spot whales and more than a few dolphins as well. The city holds a Festival of Whales on two weekends every March.
Dana Point also holds a variety of other events throughout the year. These include the Doheny Blues Festival in May and the Tall Ships Festival every September, where the harbor becomes home to historic sailing vessels. It’s known for being “the largest gathering of historic sailing ships on the West Coast.” The nautically inclined will also not want to miss the annual boat parade, which is when Orange County boaters get into the spirit of the season by decorating their boats. Prizes are awarded to the best-decorated vessels. At around the same time, the city hosts IlluminOcean, 40 nights of holiday lights, at the harbor. Then there’s the Turkey Trot, which Fitness Magazine has dubbed one of the best Thanksgiving Day runs in the country.
Love to shop? Check out the shops at Monarch Bay Plaza, Mariner’s Village, Mariner’s Alley, and Dana Wharf, where you’ll find everything from fashion boutiques to boutique wines, surfboards, and more. The city also has a wide range of dining options and features restaurants serving anything from California fusion cuisine to sushi to burgers and fries.
Golfing enthusiasts will want to try out the Monarch Beach Golf Links, a spectacular Scottish links style par-70 course right on the cliffs. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., here you can enjoy a challenging round while looking out on dramatic ocean views.