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Dana Point Neighbors Sights and Stops

July 26, 2023

Staying in Dana Point can be a complete bucket filler with the significant amount of activities and restaurants to offer visitors, but why not enjoy some additional sight seeing while at our beautiful destination?!!  Here are some of the best sights and stops in Laguna Beach, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano to check out while enjoying Dana Point this summer. 

Laguna Beach:

Known for its stunning beaches, beautiful walkways and art scene, Laguna Beach’s laid-back lifestyle makes it a popular destination for surfers and beachgoers. Located just north of Dana Point, it’s an ideal spot to spend the day checking out a few stops and events that are one of a kind to Laguna Beach.

The Pageant of the Masters is an annual summer event held in Laguna Beach and is celebrating its 90th anniversary of living pictures. The event features live tableaux vivants, or living pictures, of famous works of art. The tableaux are created by placing live models in front of painted backdrops and having them pose in the same positions as the figures in the paintings. The event is staged in the Pageant of the Masters amphitheater, which is located in the Laguna Beach Bowl. The visual art display brings famous works of art to life. The 2023 theme is: Art of the Colony. 

If you are lucky enough to be staying at The Waldorf Astoria, Monarch Beach Resort, they are not only a sponsor of this celebrated art event, but they are offering guests prime tickets daily for those who inquire. Take the trolley or Uber to this event and enjoy a cocktail before the show at the famous Laguna Beach Hotel. Check out Main Beach and its iconic lifeguard tour and walk to the show or catch the trolley that drops off adjacent to Pageant of The Masters. 

Pageant of the Maste

San Clemente:

San Clemente Pier is known for its Spanish Revival architecture and is a popular tourist destination and is located just south of Dana Point. The city can be reached via our trolley system in the summer connecting the Dana Point Trolley and the San Clemente Trolley in Capistrano Beach. 

A fun way to explore San Clemente while seeing its beautiful beaches and pier is to park and shop at the San Clemente Outlets. Sounds like an added stop, but it’s a great way to enjoy the outdoor shopping mall with its popular restaurants and shops that make for the ultimate shopping experience while picking up a few souvenirs along the way and also experiencing the trolley system without worrying about parking in downtown San Clemente. The trolley stop to Del Mar (downtown) can be found by the Starbucks directly in front of the parking lot. The trolley will take you to the quaint and beautiful Del Mar Street and San Clemente Pier. 

Walk along historic Avenida Del Mar where you will find local shops and restaurants. On a hot summer day, ice cream from South Swell is a must, take it to go and walk down to the San Clemente Pier. The pier is 1,200 feet long and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. You can see Dana Point and the Headlands to the North and Cotton’s Point to the South. Check out the beautiful murals and restored points of interest that Pier Pride Foundation, a local non profit, has dedicated to restoring and keeping one of the oldest California Piers maintained. This year, the Pier is celebrating her 95th birthday!!, and did you know, Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching founder Don Hansen started his business off the San Clemente Pier in 1958?!! Grab a refreshment at the Snack Bar, or head over to the original Bear Coast Coffee for an afternoon pick me up. 

After visiting the pier, check out Casa Romantica. Casa Romantica is a historic house museum in San Clemente, California. It was built in 1926 by Ole Hanson,  founder of San Clemente. The house is a Spanish Colonial Revival style building with a red-tiled roof and white stucco walls. It is located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

San Clemente Pier from Casa Romantica

San Juan Capistrano:

San Juan Capistrano is the birthplace of Orange County and is located a stone’s throw from Dana Point. If you are interested in local history, Mission San Juan Capistrano is the perfect way to spend the day. Stroll the beautiful gardens on a sunny summer day or enjoy a summer night under the stars with Outside South Coast Repertory’s showing of La Havana Madrid. See the Mission San Juan Capistrano as it transforms into the 1960’s Chicago’s legendary nightclub as stories and music transport you to a different time and place all while enjoying a cool summer breeze. Mission San Juan Capistrano is a beautiful historic landmark and museum and is a fantastic way to explore the roots of Orange County and how its relation to Dana Point’s history is intertwined. 

After a visit at the Mission enjoy lunch at Heritage Barbeque as summer and barbeque go hand and hand. Stroll around the downtown and its many restaurants along with the historical Los Rios Street district and take in the small businesses that dot the oldest established neighborhood in California, or book a walking tour with San Juan Capistrano’s Historical Society. End the day with dinner at Bloom Restaurant and Bar, El Adobe and check out the Richard Nixon Table, or order a pizza from Lunita’s Pizza (it’s a Detroit Style Pizza Pop-Up shop) and grab it to go and end the day with a sunset view in Dana Point!!

Mission San Juan Capistrano