This article is from my Parenting column on the LA. Edition of Examiner.com. Please visit to SEE PHOTOS of Dana Point!
Dana Point Harbor has something for every member of the family. Located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, Dana Point Harbor is gorgeous, and easily accessible–by boat, bike or car! Divided into the East and West Basin, both operate as a separate marina.
Nestled between the basins, you’ll discover curious waterside shops, a variety of restaurants, ice cream shops and walking paths. When my sons and I met up with photographer Kristianne Koch and her children, Merrik and Maliea, one morning for breakfast, we chose Coffee Importers, 2008 Best of Dana Point gold medal winners for best healthy choices, best breakfast, best sandwich, and (of course!) best coffee.
Our children are all aged four and under. While we look forward to the day when we can enroll them in Dana Point’s sailing school for kids, kayaking or windsurfing, our little ones enjoyed spotting “humungous” crabs in the water, petting the many dogs walking by, and spending the day examining tide pools, floating on a surfboard and making sand castles on Baby Beach.
A native of nearby San Clemente, Kristianne grew up visiting DP Harbor. Here is her Top Five List of Things to Do:
1) Tidepools/Dana Marine Life Refuge Low tide brings tide pool adventurers to the far west side of Dana Point Harbor.
2) Baby Beach It’s safe to go back inthe water! OC Weekly rated water quality at Baby Beach grade F over they years, but 2008 saw an improvement with a fair C. This year, Baby Beach received straight A’s from April to October, and during year-round dry weather, reports OC Weekly. (Dana Point recently received a federal earmark to study pollution in the area, so that might help prevent this year’s grade from being a fluke.)
3) Whale watching Whale watching and novice-to-expert fishing trips run daily out of Dana Wharf.
4) The Ocean Institute Nestled against the bluffs in Dana Point Harbor, this nonprofit organization is closed during the week for ocean preservation classes but facility tours are available Thursday and Friday at 4 pm. Open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays. Thursday & Friday: 3:30pm 45 min.
$2.00 per person, members are free.
5) Happy hour at Wind and Sea Merrik and Maliea love to talk to people out the big windows overlooking the sidewalk.
There are numerous waterfront choices for dining, from the casual to the romantic. Catch an early breakfast, or watch the sun go down with a glass of wine and a memorable dinner.
New York Style Deli
Slice of New York
Casual Dining on The Waterfront
Fresh Pacific Caught Seasonal Fish
Proud Mary’s Restaurant
Family-owned Restaurant on the Waterfront
Wind & Sea Restaurant
Fresh Seafood and Steaks on the Waterfront
Beach Cities Pizza
Pizza with Homemade Sauce. Sandwiches, Salads and Pasta
Coffee Importers & Deli and Scoop Deck Ice Cream
Seaside Patio, Fresh Roasted Coffee Drinks, Pastries, Desserts, Bagels, Soups, Smoothies, Fresh Juices, and Ice Cream.
El Torito Restaurant
Gemmell’s Restaurant (Rebecca’s favorite! Gemmell’s is very welcoming to children, but also a nice romantic spot for celebrations.)
Traditional and Classic Fine Dining
The Harbor Grill
Inventive, Fresh Seafood, Extensive Wine List, Premium Cocktails
Harpoon Henry’s Seafood Restaurant
On The Water Seafood Restaurant and Extensive Wine List
The Brig Restaurant
Great Home Cooking
The Beach House
Brunch, lunch or dinner.
For more info: Book a family photo session with Kristianne! View Kristianne Koch’s portrait portfolio, blog and personal/fine art galleries, or book a session. Or, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 949-702-7707.
The Ocean Institute
24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr.
Dana Point, CA 92629
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