Dana Point: The Perfect Seaside Retreat

In Destinations, Staycations by LA Travel Magazine

Luxury in a Southern California Beach Town

With first-class resorts nestled along the Orange County coast, Dana Point offers laid-back luxury paired with scenic sights for adventure. Home to world-famous surf destinations like Doheny Beach and whale-watching cruises departing from Dana Wharf, this coastal community welcomes all ocean-lovers. Beach camp with a cozy bonfire at Doheny or feel the salty ocean mist on your face while sailing aboard a historic ship. From exceptional sportfishing to breathtaking local artwork, including an Arts in Public Places program, this city boasts a myriad of recreational activities. Beyond the local amusements, experience the delicious freshness of the fine dining served in this seaside town. From beautiful accommodations to savory eats and playful afternoons, Dana Point tempts any traveler with a desire to explore and relax.

Stay

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa

Designed with class and comfort in mind, the Laguna Cliff Marriott Resort & Spa lies atop the cliffs of Dana Point for a unique oceanside escape. This AAA four diamond resort features upscale luxuries and services to pamper each guest. Its elegant charm, complete with colorful Duvet covers and gold accented beach towels, reflects the outdoor beauty of the local area. Guest rooms hold an essence of contemporary sophistication, including modern technology such as an iHome clock/player, a 37” flat-screen TV, and a Wired-for-Business program for wireless internet and domestic long distance calls.  Fresh robes and exquisite Frette linen beds welcome every guest in their room. Complete with a total of 378 guest rooms, including 15 deluxe suites, the resort provides lodging perfect for romantic retreats, successful business conferences, family vacations, special events, and more.

The grounds of the resort model an ideal setting for both casual and formal fun. With two heated outdoor pools with whirlpools and a family-friendly Splash Zone with interactive water play components, the outdoor environment of the resort assures both relaxing and energetic swimmers a memorable experience. Tennis courts, ping pong, and board games are also available, or dive into a game of bocce ball, volleyball, or croquet. Gorgeous lawns sweeping the grounds and lush gardens make this an ideal venue for weddings and celebrations. No matter the length of your visit, this resort makes for the perfect stay.

Activities

Afternoon in Dana Point Harbor

Cruise your way through Dana Point Harbor by bicycle. With year round rentals from Laguna Cliffs Marriot Resort & Spa, take a two-wheeled ride on a nifty Trek ® 7100 Hybrid Bicycle. A concierge will kindly route out great cycling tours where you can pedal through Dana Point Harbor and along the beautiful beaches nearby. Then feel free to hitch your bike up and take a refreshing adventure of stand up paddle boarding! Rentals are available per hour or daily and boards may be launched from any beach of your choosing.

Eco-Adventure Center

Hosted by The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel, the Eco-Adventure Center presents entertaining activities that inspire you to connect with the local ecosystems. Directed by expert naturalists, this center teaches individuals how to respect nature, appreciating the science behind the beauty. From a Sea Hike on Strands Beach to improving body boarding skills in a Beach Bonzai class, kids can learn while having fun. Unique excursions like these showcase the land as a natural classroom for kids, families, and groups.

The Ocean Institute

Located on Dana Point Drive, The Ocean Institute is a non-profit nationally-acclaimed marine science and maritime history education center. Over 115,000 students aged kindergarten through high school and 8,000 teachers participate in the Institute’s 61 award-winning immersion style programs. This center focuses on hands-on marine science, allowing visitors to voyage out into the ocean to discover and care for the environment. Sort through live specimens, collect scientific data, and observe migrating whales. On weekends, public family-friendly lab activities are available or visitors can also embark on a “Pirate” Adventure Sail aboard the tallship Spirit of Dana Point. Sunday guests can learn about the Living History programs through a tour on the historic brig Pilgrim.

Captain Dave’s Whale Watching Safari

Have you ever seen a megapod of dolphins and a cluster of whales within the same afternoon? Captain Dave’s Whale Watching Safari holds the highest-rated whale watching in the area, guiding you out into the blue of the Pacific to encounter the local marine life up close and personal. Catch sight of sperm whales or blue whales, both species seen off the coast of Dana Point. Sailing on a high-speed catamaran, the half-hour tour includes underwater viewing and an underwater Hydrophone that allows you to hear nearby dolphins. This eco-tourism company promises the convenience of no crowds. Captain Dave holds experience as a marine naturalist leading dolphin and whale safaris from Dana Point since 1995, ensuring all explorers a memorable time at sea.

Eat

Breakfast at Vue

For casual but classy breakfast dining, the Vue Restaurant at the Laguna Cliff Marriott Resort & Spa promises upscale meals with stunning views of the Pacific Harbor. This venue includes low noise level with the option of outdoor seating and carefully selects the best ingredients for its delicious concoctions. Try the Frittata, created with prosciutto ham, Portobello mushrooms, and California goat cheese, served with chicken apple sausage.

Dine at Monarch Bay Club

With a spectacular backdrop of the surf, the St. Regis Monarch Bay Club offers exclusive beachfront dining. The casual ambiance of this high-class location creates a peaceful and enjoyable setting. Resort trams can convey you to this private beach club that invites guests to savor California cuisine ranging from char-grilled meats to fresh seafood. For dinner, we recommend a starter of Spicy Hawaiian Tuna Tartare, made with cream cheese and avocado wontons, curried rice noodles, and micro cilantro. Then taste the Beef Tenderloin for the main course, complete with duck fat potatoes, grilled asparagus, and tarragon-béarnaise sauce. As dessert rolls around, treat yourself to a luscious slice of the Smores Cheesecake with graham cracker crumble and Hershey syrup.

A Night at Raya

Conceived by renowned Chef Richard Sandoval, Raya at The Ritz Carlton features Pan-Latin Coastal Cuisine. Prepared with sustainable seafood, fresh local produce, and natural and organic meat, these Latin flavors are of only the most superb quality. For cocktails, order The Pearl in Celebration of Our 30th Anniversary. This drink combines grey goose l’poire, fresh lemon, and crème de violette champagne. Among the savory starters, we recommend the Raya Romaine: a fresh fusion of roasted poblano mint dressing, crouton, grilled avocado, corn, tomato, cotija cheese, and pepita. Main courses include small plates or large plates. For large plate choices, select the All Natural Filet Mignon, a chipotle rubbed meat with Oaxaca potato purée, chili braised leeks, wild mushrooms, and edamame. The dessert menu includes a number of tantalizing choices—Cinnamon Sugar Churros, Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pate, and Blueberry Empanadas just to name a few.

Dana Point, ever artistic and stunning, satisfies something in every traveler’s desire. A historic Southern California paradise, this beach chic destination offers rejuvenation for the soul. Need a week-long vacation or simply a weekend getaway? The salty air and world-class comfort of this flavorful seaside town await.