Explore Art and Culture in Dana Point
When it comes to cool art and unique museums, Dana Point and Orange County are hard to beat. Art has a slightly different meaning here. We appreciate the art of crafting a surfboard that has been passed down for more than a century. We long for public art that’s accessible—not locked on a vault or lofty museum.
Our history is rugged, rich and eclectic, as is reflected in the nearby Mission San Juan Capistrano. We offer art and museum experiences that you can only have right here in Dana Point.
Clicking through the pages of this website, you’ve probably found one thing to be extraordinarily true about Dana Point: We love surfing. A lot. So, naturally, we are proud to be home to the Surf Heritage and Culture Center–likened to the Smithsonian of surfing history. With four boards surfed by the Duke himself, it’s not just a museum for California surf culture. The Duke, or Duke Kahanamoku, is credited with popularizing the ancient Hawaiian sport. He’s kind of a big deal and some of his boards are part of the largest collection of surf memorabilia in the world at the Surf Heritage and Culture Center.
Its current location is just outside our city limits in San Clemente, but with the Dana Point Harbor renovation, this nationally-recognized museum will move to the waterfront, the proper place to honor California’s official sport.
If you’re interested in local (on-land) history, Mission San Juan Capistrano–a 240-year-old Spanish mission–is a great activity away from the beach. It is a place of historical, cultural and religious significance, as well as a place of inspiration and education.
Mission San Juan Capistrano features a permanent collection of artifacts belonging to the padres who lived there in the 18th century, highlighting the historical significance of the mission system and the role of the padres in establishing what became the state of California. That’s not to mention the stunning gardens, Native American exhibits and other historical treasures that fill every nook and cranny of the mission. Part monument and part art exhibit, Mission San Juan Capistrano is a can’t-miss attraction when you visit Dana Point.
To encourage art, The City of Dana Point started the Art in Public Places program to incorporates art into new developments. For more than 20 years, this Orange County art program has been in effect to enhance the cultural and aesthetic environment of Dana Point, and to encourage creativity, education, and an appreciation of the arts and our cultural heritage.
Among the public Orange County art is the bronze statue known as The Hide Drogher. Located at Blufftop Trail between Amber Lantern and Violet Lantern, the life-sized sculpture, depicting one of the 19th-century sailors who used to toss local cowhides from the cliffs to trade for goods with the ships below. When you visit Strands Vista Park, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find stunning mosaic-type designs in the sidewalks depicting fish and other marine life in stunning color. Looking for the many works of public art are a great way to explore Dana Point on foot.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Dana Point during the annual Dana Point ArtFest, you can stroll through the Lantern District and shop 80+ local artists, listen to live music and watch live art performances. It’s a stunning display of Orange County art right in the center of Dana Point.
Whether you want to surf or go to the spa, you can create something amazing.