Tips for Visiting Dana Point, California, with Kids | Ciao Bambino!

Why Dana Point is Worth a Visit with Kids

If you’re looking for a getaway with the kids this winter, consider Dana Point, California. It has so much to offer families — sunshine, whale watching trips, bike rides by the beach, hiking, kid-friendly hotels and cuisine, plus so much more.

Panoramic view of Dana Point. Photo courtesy of the City of Dana Point

Dana Point Family-Friendly Trip Review

Dana Point is located in Orange County. If you traveling to San Diego or Los Angeles, it’s close enough and absolutely worth a visit. Not only does it have the beach where kids can spend hours building sand castles and ride the waves, but it offers an abundance of activities for kids and adults alike.

What to Do

Dana Point offers a lot of activities, and you’ll want to be on the water most of the time. Take a tour of the Ocean Institute, a non-profit marine science and history education center in Dana Point Harbor and learn about the Pacific Ocean’s sea creatures and plants. They offer immersion-based educational programs and summer camps for kids during the week and Marine Wildlife Cruises to weekend visitors. Weekend guests can also take a “Pirate” Adventure Sail aboard the Spirit of Dana Point, a rigged sailing vessel and a replica of a 1770’s privateer used during the American Revolution.

You can also go whale watching with Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safaria 3-hour whale watching trip. Kids will love getting close up and personal with dolphins, whales, sea lions and other marine life. Even on a warm day, your ride might be chilly so bundle up, take a bottle of water and snack, and get ready to see a lot of ocean life. After all, Southern California has more blue whales and dolphins and the best whale watching weather of anywhere on earth, or that’s they say!

Kids will love going on a bike ride rented from Wheel Fun along Doheny State Beach, starting from the DoubleTree Hotel and ending up in San Clemente, taking you on a 10-mile stretch of the beach. You’ll pass surfers, beautiful hotels and apartments, tide pools and end up on a pier in San Clemente with stunning views of the Pacific.

For adult-only time, the Laguna Cliffs Marriott has a spa that offers customized treatments using  organic orange extracts, coastal thyme, sea clay, mesquite honey, and wild marigolds. A one-hour treatment is the best way to get into the Southern California state of mind.

dana point st. regis
A view of St. Regis’ dramatic pool. Photo courtesy of the City of Dana Point.

Where to Stay

St. Regis Monarch Beach is a Forbes five-star rated resort. The resort has six ocean view restaurants, a private beach, three swimming pools, programs for kids, babysitting service and, get this, butler service.

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa has views of the Pacific Coast that are dramatic as the hotel sits overlooking the Harbor. Complete with Wifi, 250 thread count Frette Linen Beds and linens, soft robes, cable TV, a work space and California coastal décor that reflects the spirit of Dana Point, the room provides the ultimate family experience.

Other places to stay: the down to earth The DoubleTree Suites at Doheny Beach; the very posh The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel for the ultimate luxurious stay in Laguna Niguel with gorgeous views and family-centric experiences.

ritz carlton laguna
Lobster Tacos from Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Photo courtesy of the City of Dana Point.

Where to Eat

The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel has a lovely restaurant, Raya, featuring food with Latin American influence by Chef Richard Sandoval, which offers great kids’ options.

Cannon’s Seafood Grill is located on a cliff overlooking Dana Point Harbor. Their food is delicious, serving plentiful portions using fresh ingredients and they also cater to families, offering inexpensive kid’s meals with options like Fresh Fish, Crispy Chicken and a Hamburger for less than $10 each.

Coffee Importers is a casual eatery in the harbor, offering Americana breakfast and lunch options under umbrellas with views of the sea.

Want Help Booking a Vacation in Dana Point?

We can help! We offer full itinerary planning, including itinerary development, activity suggestions and vetted kid-friendly guides (full planning is a fee-based service, we source/book hotels for free). Request assistance on our Connect with a Travel Advisor page.


Relevant Links:

Best family hotels and things to do in California with kids

Best family hotels and things to do in Dana Point with kids

Things to do in Laguna Beach with kids

Five kid-friendly activities in Los Angeles

Tips for a grand California family road trip

Editor’s Note: Holly was invited by the City of Dana Point on a press trip to facilitate this review. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Holly Rosen Fink except where noted.

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  • Taking out kids for a trip gives us enormous joy and happiness. These tips will help people to plan a trip with kids smoothly. Dana point is just awesome.

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