What to do and see in Dana Point, United States: The Best Places and Tips

February 26, 2018 Mikaela Didonna

Dana Point is a city located in southern Orange County, California. The population was 33,351 at the 2010 census. It has one of the few harbors along the Orange County coast, and with ready access via State Route 1, it is a popular local destination for surfing.
Restaurants in Dana Point

1. Mission San Juan Capistrano

26801 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675-2601 +1 949-234-1300
Excellent
71%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Famous for the Annual Return of the Swallows, Mission San Juan Capistrano, historic landmark and museum, welcomes over 300,000 visitors each year. Enhance your visit with our new multi-language Audio Tour available in English, Spanish, French and German and now offered free with admission. Enjoy permanent exhibits featuring historic and religious artifacts, precious and rare paintings, and more. Experience the tradition of bell ringing daily honoring the legacy of Saint Junipero Serra, who founded the Mission in 1776. Visit the newly conserved Serra Chapel, California’s only chapel still standing where Saint Serra celebrated Mass and where the Eucharist has been celebrated daily.

Reviewed By Sean H

I was reluctant to go at first but admission price of $10 was acceptable. I was pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous gardens. Beautiful old cacti and flowering varieties. My only complaint would be that nothing was labeled, though as I was leaving and returning the audio guide, which is included in the price of admission, I noticed there was a plant brochure available for two dollars which did list some of the plants. It wasn’t offered to us nor did I see it at the ticket counter. It would be nice if it were free or at least promoted. I would go back if I were in the area.

2. Pacific Surfliner

CA
Excellent
56%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 146 reviews

Pacific Surfliner

The Pacific Surfliner travels 351 miles through a six-county coastal region in Southern California. Amenities include power outlets, free WiFi, comfortable seats, a cafe car, bike racks, onboard restrooms and more. Complimentary snacks, drinks and newspapers are available in Business Class. The route offers breathtaking views of the ocean, beaches, rolling hills and canyons. Station stops include: San Luis Obispo, Grover Beach, Guadalupe, Surf, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Moorpark, Simi Valley, Chatsworth, Van Nuys, Burbank, Glendale, Los Angeles, Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Sorrento Valley, and San Diego.

Reviewed By Heidi B - Cary, North Carolina

My husband and I rode Amtrak between Union Station LA and Santa Barbara when the 101 was shut down. We really were thankful to have this option, and overall it was a satisfactory, uneventful journey and relatively on time... My 3 star review is because the attendants in Union Station were truly awful. Several of them at our departure gate refused to answer simple questions and one was having a full-on SCREAMING match with a customer before they boarded. It was so unprofessional. After his fight with a passenger this attendant was so engrossed telling his fellow coworkers about his fight with them that he ignored and refused to help anyone else. I overheard him say to another boarding customer “Hey can’t you see I’m busy here?” and then he turned his back on them while he continued to badtalk the other customer. I saw that so I went over to a different attendant and asked a question about which cars had first level storage areas for our heavy bags and he looked annoyed and said “you just have to look for them” and he walked away! So needless to say we did that and there was no first floor storage on the car we were on and we had to lug our 50 lb bags up the narrow steep stairs to second level. Totally unnecessary if someone on Amtrak staff would have just done their job and offered some answers. My other tip would be to bring your own food on board. Amtrak food is like elementary school cafeteria food. It’s gross. But like I said, I am appreciative that the rail option existed. It got us there and back way quicker than the 5 hour detour by car.

3. Salt Creek Beach

Pacific Coast Hwy, Dana Point, CA 92629
Excellent
71%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 276 reviews

Salt Creek Beach

Reviewed By Scott M - Lancaster, Pennsylvania

This is nice beach to walk and watch surfers atempt their sport while you're walking. The beach is not as long as some of the others but beacuse you have to walk to reach to beach in certain areas it is less crowded, which was a bonus to us.

4. San Clemente Coastal Trail

San Clemente oceanfront, San Clemente, CA 92675
Excellent
75%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 348 reviews

San Clemente Coastal Trail

Reviewed By on_the_go_98765 - Tucson

One end of the "official" trail begins at the end of the road not too far from the San Clemente Inn and ends at North Beach. The pier, railroad tracks, sand, homes, and other view features make this totally enjoyable. But do not be confined to the trail alone: if you walk in the opposite direction (near the beginning of the trail), there is a really great stretch of beach devoid of the facilities along the trail. Make the walk and enjoy the path less traveled.

The terminus for our walk was North Beach and from there, we headed up to "town" and the funky fun shops along the way. Beach-side San Clemente is nothing but beachy, fun, retro, and so not commercialized.

On our walk back to San Clemente Inn, we passed such fun shops (second hand mostly) where we steeped ourselves in the local flavor of this unique community. Like Aretha Franklin said, "what you want, baby I got it ..." these little shops drew us in.

Step outside the boundaries, color outside the lines, and exeprience life as the local live it. San Clemente was a vibrant and fun place to kick about for a week.

Like the terminator said ... "I'll be back !!!"

5. Crystal Cove State Park

8471 Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 949-494-3539
Excellent
73%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Crystal Cove State Park

Reviewed By Doctordan1

Beautiful campsite, stunning views, great walks over hills with sensational views over the Pacific. Friendly staff, great facilities for RV drivers. Perhaps a little expensive for a state park at $75 per night but nevertheless I would recommend this state park for its proximity to the beach and amazing treks.

6. Dana Point Harbor

34624 Golden Lantern St, Dana Point, CA 92629-2908 +1 888-224-0603
Excellent
60%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 898 reviews

Dana Point Harbor

Reviewed By Howard Bud D - Georgetown, Texas

Active busy gathering place for both sailors and land lobbers. Thousands of boats of every description. A wide variety of shops and eateries with ample parking. Modern California at its best.

7. ZOOMARS Petting Zoo

31791 Los Rios St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675-3113 +1 949-831-6550
Excellent
55%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
17%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 134 reviews

ZOOMARS Petting Zoo

We're one of a kind and hay bales of fun. We're good times, friendly animals and the happiest folks you'll ever meet. For the past 30 years our little zoo has charmed more than three million visitors

Reviewed By Joan H - San Bernardino, California

Zoomars Petting Zoo is just a short walk from the train station in the San Juan Capistrano Historic district. The first thing that we noticed was a large area with picnic tables for birthday parties. You will need reservations in advance to schedule your party. There are pony rides and feedings areas. Food is available for feedings as you enter the zoo. Guinea pigs, goats, sheep and an emu will keep the kids entranced.

8. Catalina Express

34675 Golden Lantern St, Dana Point, CA 92629-2908 +1 800-481-3470
Excellent
58%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 211 reviews

Catalina Express

Catalina Island is just an hour away aboard our fast and sleek boats out of Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point. We are committed to offering the most advanced, state-of-the-art watercraft available while maintaining a high level of dedication to safety, customer satisfaction, and quality of service. Today, the fleet consists of 8 high-speed vessels. More than one million passengers set sail to Catalina Island each year on board Catalina Express, and with year round service and up to 30 departures daily, you can easily join them.

Reviewed By Scubajackie - Carrollton, Texas

We experienced no motion sickness on the vessel, so that was great. The boat is clean, and you have a choice of riding on a very tiny upper deck or in the cabin, which is air conditioned. After the boat takes off, you can order a soda or beer if your heart desires. On one of the NOAA buoys, we saw sea otters resting. They were so cute. The crew helps with your bags if you're going for an overnight stay in Catalina.

9. Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas Laguna Niguel

32401 Golden Lantern, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677-5334 +1 949-373-7900
Excellent
50%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
4%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 170 reviews

Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas Laguna Niguel

Reviewed By PG13LA - Dana Point, California

Very comfortable seating, sub-standard audio / video - volume generally kept too low so if you want to catch all the dialog, forget about it. Food is way over-priced and below average. Movie experience for 2 (Tickets, Drinks and some food) will easily cost $100 and it ain't worth it ! There are many better alternatives. It was a good concept years ago when it originally opened but not anymore....

10. Doheny State Beach

25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629 (949) 496-6171
Excellent
40%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
17%
Poor
4%
Terrible
3%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 412 reviews

Doheny State Beach

Located adjacent to a popular campsite, this scenic beach provides a peaceful outdoor experience.

Reviewed By on_the_go_98765 - Tucson

Our expectations were met, exceeded, and then some. The vast expanse of pure white sand, the high level of the facilities, the proximity to camping (for those so inclined), and just the "everything-ness" of this fine beach sets it heads above the rest. There's a touch of history (1930's CCC project monument) and there is its proximity to the San Juan Creek Trail, and then there are the first-class vollyball facilities, and the list just grows.

Our first impression was that this beach felt like it should be on Maui; the quality was that high. There is also an aquarium in the near area and a delightful butterfly garden on the grounds. There is something for everyone!

Access to the beach (from the other side of the highway) is by means of an extraordinary and truly spectacular pedestrian bridge. This was an architectural structure worthy of recognition. The murals on the side delighted us and we paused so often to take pictures of this magnificant structure. Well done, Dana Point. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and these eyes thank you.

For us it was a departure point at the beginning point of the first-class San Juan Creek Trail (2 1/2 mile or one hour, hike and/or bike) to San Juan Capistrano. For travelers who do not travel this path, then that is their loss (rethink this, seriously, you gotta do this) It was a true highlight of our trip here. There was so very much to see along the way.

Just a heads-up, there are homeless folks here and, at the end of the day, they do congregate on the benches along the path from the pedestrian bridge to the beach. We did not find this to be a problem for us (or for them).

Doheny Beach State Park is a real treasure. Take some time to explore.

ThingsTodoPost © 2018 All rights reserved.