Dana Point, California, by reading Pleasures You Can
Enjoy in Dana Point, Californiaby Sandy Zimmerman,
Travel Writer. It features a mini, but thorough tour of the
destination, plus all you'll need to know to plan your trip
including getting there, objective information on places to
stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article,
we've provided a summary of the contact information for your easy reference. Enjoy!
Pleasures You Can
Enjoy in Dana Point, California!
By Sandy Zimmerman, Travel Writer
Dana Point Wharf
moment we saw picturesque Dana Point Harbor, we understood why
author/seaman Richard Henry Dana (1835) said, “It is the only romantic
spot in California.” Named after Dana, he describes the charms of the
cliffed cove in his seafaring novel Two Years Before
the Mast. At 19, Dana became a sailor aboard the merchant brig,
Pilgrim, sailing from Dana Point around Cape Horn, to Boston. El
Embarcadero Cove was used by small, fast hide vessels (1830-1840)
engaging in the smuggling trade. Hipolito Bouchard, an Argentine pirate,
used this cove in 1818 while his sailors raided and set fire to the
Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Everyone is watching as the ocean’s waves continue their dance-like
movements around our boat. We dare not look away. Just a half hour from
the harbor, the excitement is building within us. We must watch the
churning sea. Suddenly the captain yells, “Whales at 6 o’clock,” and our
wait is over. A whale lifts itself out of the water, sometimes just for
a few minutes, and at other times we can see more of its body and tail.
The biggest mammal on earth performs its ritual so very close to us.
Then the whale dives down to swim under our boat. Every year thousands
of Orcas, Humpback Whales, Blue and Gray Whales leave the arctic seas
and follow the coastline to Southern California and Baja. This
5,000-mile migration takes these giant mammals past Dana Point, referred
to as a landmark for the whales. Usually whale watching season runs from
November-April, some Blue Whales seem to like it there and are still
around in August.
aboard the replica of an old pirate ship, the Pilgrim. This
square-rigged, 118 foot historic Tall Ship looks as though it just came
out of a scene in a pirate’s film! You can tour this vessel and even go
on one of their sailing cruises. The Ocean Institute, known for helping
children experience the ocean environment, rums the Pilgrim and
the R/V Sea Explorer. See the schedule of Tall Ship
cruises, snorkeling trips, wildlife cruises, and programs in the Details
the Street of the Blue Lantern up the mountain from the Tall Ship,
Pilgrim’s dock, and stopped at the Spanish style gazebo for some of
the most breathtaking views of the ocean, harbor and boats. When we
looked up, Cannons Restaurant was above us. This is called the Samson
addition to the thrills of watching for whales and enjoying all the
attractions of Dana Point, we look forward to enjoying other pleasures-
discovering restaurants that will delight our palate.
of Cannon's Restaurant from the road.
a setting so romantic, so exciting, and so perfect, that we will always
remember the experience. Cannon’s Restaurant sits atop a mountain high
above the beautiful Dana Point Harbor. This is one of the best views in
the city! During the day we can watch the sailboats and yachts
challenging the wind. At night, the boats seem to dance as they sit at
the dock with lights shimmering in the bay. Their terrace juts out over
the cliff; inside the wide windows provide spectacular vantage points.
And the food is as great as the view! Executive Chef Manny Delgado
creates original dishes with the flavors of the Pacific Rim and
traditional California cuisine. We found several culinary surprises. It
is obvious why they have won the award as the “Most Romantic Setting in
the California Coast.” (See sample menu in Details Section)
Rosen, General Manager co-owner of the Renaissance Restaurant, describes
their image, “We serve fine food in an informal environment.” Bill
Milton, Chef co-owner, is a master of the culinary arts; “I give flavor
to food before we serve it to the customers. Our meats and poultry
dishes are marinated from 24-48 hours.” Every night Chef Bill uses from
8-9 bottles of Chardonnay in preparing his pastas, “We want our
customers to enjoy the type of cuisine they can’t get anywhere else.
Choose the type of steak you wish, then decide the way you want it
prepared. (See sample menu in Details Section) No cover, no minimum
entertainment nightly. Live bands with a variety of music.
enjoying all the pleasures around Dana Point, we need the pleasure of a
comfortable place to relax and get a good night’s sleep. The Capistrano
Beach All Suites Resort is nestled between the mountains and the ocean.
What a romantic getaway! Their slogan, “We put the beach within reach,
and promise . . . the view . . . the ocean . . . the room to unwind.”
And it is true. Marketing & Promotions Director, Alicia Salter explains,
“Because the Capistrano Beach Resort was originally built as time-share
apartments and converted into a resort, our guests have big apartments
and more amenities than the regular hotels. The apartments range from
300-800 square feet and can sleep up to 6 people. Eat in your apartment,
on your balcony, use the Jacuzzi decks B. B. Q. and tables, or sit at
picnic tables on the beach. Most apartments have oceanfront or ocean
views and offer bedroom suites, family suites, and apartment suites, in
addition to standard value rooms. These services are free: super
continental breakfast, in-room high-speed Internet connection, local
calls, underground parking, in room tea/coffee/popcorn, and newspapers.
Alicia and Chris enjoy living in Dana Point. She sees dolphins while
walking on the beach. He catches 30-40 pound halibut. What a life! You
can hear the surf from any of their ocean view or ocean front suites.
The meeting room accommodates 26 people along with a hospitality suite
for groups, family reunions, or meetings. Watch the sunset while soaking
in the ocean view pool-sized Jacuzzi 7am-midnight. The big continental
breakfast is served from 7-10 am - cereals, sweet rolls, muffins,
bagels, donuts, biscotti, cream cheese, juices, including over 20
Dana Point Park
just a few minutes from Dana Point and walking distance to restaurants
and stores. During the summer, a free trolley stops every half hour to
take you to the wharf, restaurants, shopping centers, and around Dana
Point. With a small town atmosphere, Dana Point is quaint, and has its
own personality. Choosing the right hotel makes the difference in how
much you enjoy your vacation or business trip.
are numerous side trips and things to do around Dana Point including a
Catalina Express trip to Avalon on the Island of Catalina.
the Disneyland Theme Park (33 miles) The Happiest Place on Earth" is an
enchanted kingdom of fantasy and imagination filled with classic
family-friendly attractions and magical entertainment, dining and
Legoland California theme park is a 120+ acre park geared specifically
towards youngsters’ ages two through 12. Over 50 rides, 5 new
attractions. Located 30 minutes north of San Diego, 1 hour south of
Anaheim, 32 miles from San Juan Capistrano, in the village of Carlsbad.
Games recreated from Lego bricks, block of fame, world famous faces and
works of art.
The Los Rios historic
district in San Juan Capistrano is the oldest residential street in the
U. S.; its 31 historic buildings are still standing from 1776 through
the Spanish, Mexican, and statehood eras. There are two completely
different walking tours. The Architectural Walking Tour (Friends of the
Library) makes the past come alive, as each building has a story. The
Historical Walking Tour (Historical Society) explains Capistrano’s
history, ghost stories, and folklore. You can also tour the Mission San
Juan Capistrano (1776) called “The Jewell of the Missions.”
Point is located 10 miles south of Laguna Beach, half-way
between Los Angeles and San Diego.
Las Vegas: I-15 South (241.4 miles) to CA-91 West toward
beach cities (9.6 miles). Take CA-241 S toward Irvine (toll)
(12.2 miles), change to CA-133 S toward I-5 (toll) 3.9
miles. Merge onto I-5 South toward San Diego (16.4 miles).
Take CA-1 North to Pacific Coast Highway (1.9 miles).
John Wayne-Orange County Airport: Turn left on Macarthur to
I-405 South. Change to I-5 South and exit at Crown Valley
Parkway. Make a right turn, and after 2 miles turn left on
Pacific Coast Highway.
Los Angeles: Take I-101 South to I-5 South toward Santa Ana.
Change to CA-1 North toward Pacific Coast Highway. (58
San Diego International Airport: Take I-5 North and exit at
Beach Cities. Stay left on the ramp and continue on Pacific
Coast Highway North. (65 miles)
Things To Do
Capistrano Beach - Located approximately two miles south of
Dana Point Harbor, you can use the beach, seven volleyball/
basketball courts, food stand, showers and restrooms. 34551
Puerto Place Dana Point.
Point Harbor and Marinas are inside a 1- mile jetty, with
moorings for over 2,500 yachts. Fisherman’s Wharf, Marina’s
Village, charter fishing boats, jet ski/ kayak/ motor and
sailboat rentals, whale watching cruises, restaurants,
shops, Catalina ferries, a beach, picnic tables, and a
launching ramp if you bring a boat.(949)-923-2255
Point Marine Life Refuge See the sea caves, sea anemones,
octopus and maybe dolphins offshore. West end of Dana Point
Wharf Sports Fishing & Whale Watching Special Two-for-on-
Tuesdays- 2 adults for $18, Senior’s discount day is Friday,
and military discounts. Whale watching/wildlife cruises
guarantee that you will see whales and dolphins or ride
again free. They also have 90 minute weekend Reggae cruises
with live music and appetizers aboard the 95’ Dana.
34675 Golden Lantern. (949)-496-5794
State Beach This 62 acre state park consists of a mile of
sandy beaches, tide pools, 120 family camp sites, and 170
picnic tables. Their Visitor’s Center has 5 aquariums, an
indoor tide pool, natural history museum, exhibits, photo
history of surfing, and year-round educational programs.
This is very nice but there are many beaches without parking
charges. Doheny Beach is located next to Dana Point Harbor.
Parking and camping charges, open 6:00 am to 10:00 pm
(Daylight Savings Time), and 6:00 am to 8:00 pm (Pacific
Standard Time). 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive (949)
Spirit of Dana Point Tall Ship sailing cruises, most
Saturdays and Sundays. Nautical themed plays are presented
in July and August. Snorkeling trips to Catalina Island-
June to August, Harbor cruises all year. See dolphins, sea
lions, and whales on the wildlife cruises - Saturdays and
Sundays- with marine biologists. Tall Ship tours request a
donation. "Pirate" Adventure Sail, July-August-September,
Members: $33/adult, $17/child (5-12yrs). Non-Members:
$36/adult, $19/child (5-12yrs); Sunday Brunch Sail, July,
Members: $40/adult and $25/child (5-12yrs). Non-Members:
$45/adult and $30/child (5-12yrs); Tallship Sunset Parade,
you can take a cruise during the festival, September.
Members: $45/adult, $32/child (5-12yrs). Non-Members:
$50/adult, $35/child (5-12yrs); Tallship Cannon Battle
Cruises, September. Members: $45/adult, $32/child (5-12yrs).
Non-Members: $50/adult, $35/child (5-12yrs); Located on the
far west side of harbor, next to the Ocean institute, 24200
Dana Point Harbor Drive. 949-496-1094
Clemente Golf Course 18 hole links style course. (2 miles)
$35-59. 150 East Avenida Magdalena, San Clemente
Cliffs Golf Course Cut out of the canyons, this 18 hole
course is a challenge, (2 miles) $29-54 weekends, 501
Avenida Vaquero, San Clemente.(949) 492-1177
Places To Eat
Cannon’s Restaurant - Their seafood linguini ($19.50) is
filled with sautied prawns and scallops, along with
tomatoes, basil, garlic and cream. The special macadamia
crusted swordfish ($24.75) tastes even better with their
vanilla bean sauce. Chef Manny adds an Asian touch to his
coconut shrimp. Dusted with coconut tempura, the golden
shrimp are served with a peanut and sweet chili dipping
sauce. Steak Oscar ($31.95), a 10 ounce filet mignon, is
topped with king crab meat, asparagus, and biarnaise sauce.
You can also choose halibut Oscar. Herb crusted prime ribs
($22.95-26.95) are slow roasted for 3 hours, then placed in
a holding oven at 140 degrees to tenderize the meat for
another 4-5 hours. The chef marinates all of the top sirloin
steaks ($24.95) in teriyaki sauce for 12 hours. It is more
than just chicken when you order chicken Marsala ($16.95) in
wine sauce! The luscious chocolate fudge cake ($6.95) is
topped with caramel and French vanilla ice cream, and served
warm. Lunch is served Saturdays at 11 A. M., champagne
brunch Sunday at 10 A. M. 34344 Street of the Green Lantern.
NOTE: Restaurant discounts and 2-for-1 coupons are available
free at local markets, stores, and hotels.
Places To Eat with Entertainment
Renaissance Restaurant - Happy Hours 4-7 pm, Monday-Friday.
No cover, no minimum entertainment: Friday and Saturday,
8:30-midnight. Sunday brunch, 11:30 am -2:30 pm and 5-8:30
pm Monday 7:30-10 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30-10:30 pm Live
bands with a variety of music. Restaurant: 11 am, Monday-
Saturday. 10 am Sunday for brunch. Not your typical pasta,
orange pepper chicken pasta ($11.95-appetizer/15.95-dinner)
is a wonderful mixture of grilled chicken breast, roasted
sweet peppers, and fresh mushrooms in an orange pepper cream
sauce over red pepper fettuccini. New York steak 8 oz.
($23.95) or 12 oz. ($30.95). Rib eye 10 oz. ($24.95) or 16
oz ($31.95). They will prepare it traditional style
(marinated in olive oil, garlic and rosemary), pepper style
(seasoned with cracked peppercorns and fresh garlic, topped
with sweet pepper demi-glaze), or black & blue & bleu
(encrusted with a special blend of seasonings, pan-seared to
seal in all the flavor, topped with melted Bleu cheese). The
French cut Riviera pork chop ($23.95) is marinated in sage,
garlic and olive oil, then broiled, and drizzled with Pinot
Noir maple sauce. Light suppers include Renaissance burger
($9.95), blackened ahi sandwich ($10.95), and calamari tacos
($10.95). 24701 del Prado, corner of Golden Lantern.
in Westminister (26 miles)
Bleu - One of the biggest dance floors in Orange County, 2
DJ’s play in separate rooms- techno, hip-hop, r&b. Acts as a
sports bar and restaurant during the day, and nightclub at
night. 14160 Beach Blvd, Westminster. (714)-245-SEXY
Places To Stay
Capistrano Beach Resort - Special rates for a stay of 3
nights, you receive the 4th night free
(Sunday-Thursday). If you stay 7 nights, you receive 25%
discount off your bill. Standard value rooms from $99. For
information about standard rooms, suites, packages, meeting
facilities, and sights, call the Capistrano Beach All Suites
Resort, in Dana Point, California. (800)-446-2276.
Reminder: Check rates and book your reservations- car and
WTA’s Online Travel
Booking Service. Deep discounts may apply to
car rentals and hotels!
Catalina Express Round trip $49- Adults, $39.50-Children,
$45-Seniors 55+. Week days- leaves Dana Point- 9:50 am and
3:45 pm; Weekends- 7:45 am, 11:55 am, 5 pm. Dana Point
Harbor, 34675 Golden Lantern. (800)-481-3470
Disneyland (33 miles) 1313 S. Harbor Blvd, Anaheim,
Legoland California Theme Park - Located in the village of
Carlsbad- 30 minutes north of San Diego, 1 hour south of
Anaheim, 32 miles from San Juan Capistrano. Open 10 am-5 pm
winter season. 10 am -8 pm, summer. Schedule varies. 1
Legoland Drive, Carlsbad (760)-918-LEGO
events around Dana Point: Festival of Whales (March)
www.festivalofwhales.com; 4th of July
Fireworks Extravaganza; Doheny Days Music Festival and Blues
www.omegaevents.com; The Toshiba Tall Ships
Festival (September) begins with a parade of Tall Ships
entering Dana Point Harbor, then you can tour the ships and
www.tallshipsfestival.com; Boat Rides with Santa
(December); Annual Boat Parade of Lights (December); For
information about all of their events, or for print and save
discount coupons, see the Dana Point Harbor website. You can
also enter to win a free sailing trip aboard their Tall Ship
in the monthly drawing. Call (949)-496-1094.
Clemente Hospital and Medical Center (4 miles) 654 Camino de
Los Mares (949) 496-1122
Hospital (8 miles) 27700 Medical Center Road, Mission Viejo