Dana Point boasts million-dollar views and a wealth of activities – but you don’t have to spend a dime to enjoy the coastal fun and culture. Here are 10 activities that are free, free, free!
Hit the Water! – Dana Point is the birthplace of the worldwide Surf Culture phenomenon, so experiencing where it all began is a must! Surf, swim, kayak, paddleboard, boogie board, body surf – on one (or more) of the six beaches…the water’s free! Many of Dana Points’ resorts offer guests free watersports equipment to enhance the beachy bliss.
Explore Dana Point Harbor – Check out more than 30 specialty shops, a wine tasting room, 20 waterfront restaurants, taverns and 2,500-boat/yacht marina. Enjoy miles of walkways around the harbor and soak up the sun and fresh ocean air.
View the World Famous Tall Ships – Enjoy a bit of history by walking right up to The Pilgrim, a full-size replica of the “hide brig” made famous in Richard Henry Dana, Jr.’s novel Two Years Before the Mast, and the schooner Spirit of Dana Point. Both are docked at the Ocean Institute in the harbor. Richard Henry Dana discovered Dana Point in 1835 while sailing on the Pilgrim from Boston to California.
Go Biking – Many of Dana Point’s resorts offer free bicycles to guests, making it easy riding around the harbor and more than 11 miles of scenic multi-use trails from cliff-top ocean lookouts to emerald parklands.
Enjoy Beach Freedom of Choice! The sun, the sand, the sea are free. So is your choice of beaches along Dana Point’s nearly seven miles of sandy shoreline. Bring the toddlers to Baby Beach where the calm water is ideal for family fun. Explore tide pools at Strands and Salt Creek beaches. Live the surfer legend at mile-long Doheny State Beach.
Attend the Dana Point Farmers Market – Discover fresh organic produce, breads and other goodies from Dana Point providers every Saturday in La Plaza Park. Local artisans add to fun on the second Saturday of the month.
Take a Hike in Dana Point! – Stroll along the Dana Point Bluff Top Trail for magical ocean and harbor views from atop these 150-foot high coastal bluffs. The Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area features three miles of free pedestrian trails with overlooks, beaches and mesas – part of Dana Point’s 11 miles of free pedestrian and multi-use trails.
Play ball! Free beach volleyball courts on Doheny and Capistrano Beaches, and basketball court at Salt Creek Park (just north of the Ritz-Carlton) are slam-dunks for family and friendly fun.
Visit the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center (and visitor center) – Admission is free. View the historical, cultural and natural history exhibits. Join the free guided nature, whale and history walks on the first, second and third Saturday of the month.
Admire the Public Art – More than 26 sculptures, murals and paintings grace Dana Point’s parks, streets and structures from larger-than-life bronzes depicting local heroes like the 19th century hide-throwers and surf icons, such as Hobie Alter – he shaped the first foam surf board and invented the Hobie Cat catamaran – in Waterman’s Plaza, to life-sized paintings of whales and marine life along “The Whale Walk” in Doheny State Beach park.