The Museum is Wherever You Are
It’s no exaggeration to say Dana Point loves the visual arts. And why wouldn’t we, given the scenic wonder that surrounds us in our cool coastal hamlet? In fact, we love art so much we’ve eschewed the idea of a single museum in favor of bringing it out into public view. Wherever you go in Dana Point, you’re probably not far from a piece or collection of publicly displayed art.
From bronze statues honoring the town’s seafaring past to lifesize sidewalk whales to a temple to help you restore your senses when you need a break from the world, Dana Point is full of public art. Here’s a sampling of some of our favorite pieces and where to find them.
Hobie Memorial at Watermen’s Plaza
In his lifetime, Hobie Alter created several iconic sports products still in use to this day. From the Hobie skateboard to the Hobie surfboard to the Hobie Cat catamaran, he is revered as a pioneer in several sports synonymous with Southern California. Calling Dana Point his home until his death in 2014, Hobie changed the face of this surf town, putting it on the map for generations to come. Now, a new 27-foot bronze sculpture honors his legacy with the likeness of him riding a life-size Hobie Cat 14. The statue was unveiled in December 2018 and was supported by donations to the Hobie Memorial Foundation. Along with the bronze statue of Hobie Alter, there are many other renowned surf industry innovators and athletes memorialized in bronze within in the plaza.
Address: Along the Pacific Coast Highway between the Pedestrian Bridge and Doheny Park Plaza.
Part art, part functional walkway, Dana Point’s pedestrian bridge helps visitors safely cross the Pacific Coast Highway while reducing traffic congestion. Called a “great work of art,” when it was first installed, there’s plenty to admire about this bridge. It is capped off with four locally-themed mosaics, palm trees for bookends and a large inscription reading, “Dana Point.” Throughout the year, the bridge is variously decorated for the holidays, with American flags on the Fourth of July and holiday wreaths during December. An elevator helps handicapped visitors easily and safely get up and down.
Address: Del Obispo and the Pacific Coast Highway near the Hobie Memorial
Dana Point Inn Arches
Not far from “The Hide Drogher,” you’ll find what appears to be a Roman aqueduct. These are actually the remnants of the Dana Point Inn, a resort planned by Sidney H. Woodruff. Sadly, construction was interrupted by the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. But what remains – the arches – is a pretty spectacular sight. Though not originally intended to be a standalone art piece, people are drawn to the beauty of the arches all year round. Photographers will find creative ways to frame the ocean or a gorgeous sunset through these arches.
Address: Along Bluff Top Trail, Santa Clara Ave., Dana Point
The Hide Drogher
Literally from top to bottom, Dana Point is brimming with art. At the top of town near the Ken Sampson Overlook, you can stop, pause and take in the sights of the ocean, beaches and our beautiful community. A few steps from the overlook is a larger-than-life bronze statue called “The Hide Drogher,” a tribute to the New England sailors who, in the 1800s, stood atop these cliffs and threw down local cowhides as a way of trading with passing ships. Sculpted by F. Benedict Coleman, “The Hide Drogher” is one can’t-miss piece of Dana Point public art.
Address: 4342 Amber Lantern St., Dana Point
Another piece created by Pecharka, the Nature Interpretive Center’s mural is a tribute to the rancheros who threw cow hides to passing sailors.
Address: 34558 Scenic Drive, Dana Point
Representing the kelp forests that lie underneath the waters near Dana Point, this sculpture provides a great chance to snap photos or reflect on the vast marine life surrounding you. It was built in 2013 by artist Steve Ryzdon.
Address: 25111 Park Lantern Road, Lantern Bay Park, Dana Point
Salt Creek Tunnel Mural
This 22- by 50-foot mural encompasses everything Dana Point is: bright, authentic and locally grown. Located within the tunnel to Salt Creek Beach, the mural is the perfect backdrop for Instagram photos complete with larger-than-life orange Volkswagen and female surfer prepared to paddle out. Painted in 2018, you don’t want to miss this picture-perfect mural.
Address: Salt Creek Beach, Dana Point
Temple of Bliss
Built in 2001 by the architects at Holmes and Narver, this temple is located in the Monarch Beach Resort’s Botanical Garden. Exquisitely crafted, the temple is the perfect place to meditate, relax or just take in some ocean views.
Address: One Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point
The Top Men
Also create by Pecharka, this bronze sculpture depicts a scene from the Richard Henry Dana memoir, “Two Years Before the Mast.”
Address: 24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr. near the Ocean Institute, Dana Point
Gain a new sense of appreciation for those who have served our country with artist Christopher Pecharka’s patriotic bronze eagle sculpture.
Address: Coast Highway and Selva Road, in Strand Vista Park, Dana Point
Located at Doheny State Beach, the Whale Walk is an ever-evolving series of life-sized whale and marine life paintings right beneath your feet. Painted on the sidewalks around the park, you’ll find minke whales, blue whales, orca and many others, including eight dolphins right near the beach.
Address: 25300 Harbor Drive, Dana Point