Dana Point in southern California is the official start, or end, of the Pacific Coast Highway. The PCH starts at exit 79 from I-5, where California State Route 1 begins. The highway then takes you through part of Dana Point and then north along the coast towards Laguna Beach and the other California beach towns beyond.
Photo (c) Donna Dailey
There’s much more to Dana Point than just being the start of the road trip, however, and it’s well worth a night or two of anyone’s time. It’s probably best-known for its whale watching trips, and in particular its Festival of Whales.
The annual Festival of Whales takes place at Dana Point usually over two weekends in early/mid-March. It’s a great time to visit, but book your accommodation ahead. There are parades with huge inflatable whales, octopuses and other sea creatures that kids will love. There are races, lectures, hot rods on display, music, hikes, walking tours, art, movies, pancake breakfasts, BBQs, sand sculpting, rubber ducky races, and a whole lot more including, of course, lots of whale watching trips.
The Festival also coincides with Dana Point Restaurant Week, when there are some bargain and special meals to be had in the town’s eating places. If you’re coming in for the day from outside the town then there’s a regular shuttle service so you don’t have to get caught up in downtown traffic, and you can park and ride all day for free.
One of the Dana Point experiences you must on no account miss is a whale watching cruise with Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching. Prime season for grey whales is from about November to April, though it can vary a little from year to year depending on the conditions. Then from May to October, the blue whales start to be seen, making whale watching a year-round attraction at Dana Point. Read the account of our Dana Point Whale Watching trip, on a sunset cruise.
Photo (c) Donna Dailey
To the south side of the harbor is Doheny State Beach, the first part of a long stretch which goes all the way to San Clemente. It’s a very popular beach, with a campsite behind it that usually needs to be booked well in advance. It is consistently voted the Best Camping Site in the whole of Orange County, year after year.
It’s also a great location for anglers, and is considered one of the best surfing beaches in Southern California.
Jan 17, 21 06:18 PM
Check out this NEW baby Gray Whales video we had just days ago off the Dana Point coast. This was such a treat and hope to have more and more visits like these .
Jan 17, 21 11:04 AM
Road trips aren’t just for the summer. For starters, it’s always fun to get away in the winter. Another benefit is that national and state parks as well as other famous attractions are usually less cr…
Jan 15, 21 10:00 AM
Army Corps of Engineers big dumps in Encinitas and Solana Beach seem like a finger in the dyke