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Ideal for: Beach Lovers, Whale Watchers, Families
Originally established as a trading post in the early 1800s, this laidback California paradise has long been a destination for surfers and outdoor enthusiasts alike thanks to its 6.5 miles of beaches, 36 parks, four area golf-courses, bustling marinas, and 11 miles of multi-use trails for hikers and bikers. Spend a day learning about marine life at the Ocean Institute, head down to the harbor for a paddleboard excursion, explore the local boutiques and restaurants, or watch the sunset from high bluffs overlooking the coastline’s secluded coves and tidal pools.
Along South Coast Highway and Forest Avenue are dozens of high-end boutiques, art galleries and historic buildings. Local favorites include C.J. Rose Fashion Boutique and home goods store Vertigo Home.
Hop on a whale-watching cruise and hit the open waters for a chance to get up close to the many species of local marine life and whales who pass Dana Point along their annual migration route.
With 2,400 acres of woodland and an underwater park, Crystal Cove State Park attracts hikers, swimmers, mountain bikers and scuba divers. Take a hot coffee on a serene, foggy morning walk.
Serving as home to multiple award-winning vintages, Laguna Canyon Winery's handcrafted wine is a family-owned business. Make a reservation to sample wine and cheese in their tasting room.
On-site at Monarch Beach Resort is Miraval Spa, a tranquil oasis dedicated to helping guests keep their life in balance. Reserve an appointment for a wellness treatment or massage inspired by the resort's coastal setting.
Animal lovers will love to stop at Pacific Marine Mammal Center, whose mission is to inspire ocean stewardship through education about seals, dolphins and more. Admission is complimentary and donations are appreciated.
For swimming, volleyball and basketball, visit Main Beach near the downtown area. Picnic Beach is aptly named as its rocky nature means it's better suited for eating and people watching. For surfing and bodyboarding, try the boundless waves at Crescent Bay.
If you're visiting Dana Point from late June to late August, take advantage of the complimentary trolley as transportation. The trolleys run in 20-minute loops going north and south on Pacific Coast Highway. Ask your concierge for a route map.
Families with children ages 5 to 12 can make full- or half-day reservations at this kid-friendly Monarch Beach Resort program. Extracurricular enrichment activities and a complimentary Monarch Beach Kids Getaway Kit will keep your kiddos fully entertained.
Monarch Beach Resort offers on-site Surf Hosts to take care of kayak rentals and the scheduling of private bodyboarding or surf lessons. If you're just looking to relax, Surf Hosts will wait on you hand and foot with lounge chair service.
Picture a classic southern California scene and it's likely you're envisioning Dana Point. Blazing sunsets, gentle waves and golden sun-kissed beaches will greet you just about any time you visit. Ocean breezes help keep extreme summer heat at bay and while the brief winter - roughly January through March - is the rainiest time, reliably mild temperatures make Dana Point a welcome retreat even during this time.