Pages Navigation Menu

Things to do in Orange County for OC Moms

Categories Navigation Menu

Family Guide to the 2015 Dana Point Festival of Whales

Dana Point Festival of Whales

The Dana Point Festival of Whales is one of our favorite Orange County family events. Children get to learn about the ocean, whales and the environment in a fun festive environment. There is a lot to see during the two weekend event, and we have a guide to what to expect to get the most out of your time at the festival.

Dates:
March 7-8th
March 14-15th

PostDivider12111

Parking
We do not recommend parking in the harbor for the event. There are such limited spaces and a huge amount of traffic that will delay your fun. There is a free shuttle available at multiple surrounding locations from 10am to 4pm. Please refer to the map below for the different shuttle locations.

Photo courtesy of the DP Festival of Whales

Photo courtesy of the DP Festival of Whales

PostDivider12111

Whale Watching
The highlight of the festival is the big beautiful whales in the waters surrounding Dana Point Harbor. We recommend Dana Wharf Whale Watching for your family excursion, and highly recommend making reservations a couple of days in advance. The Wyland Foundation has partnered with Dana Wharf to offer a unique family experience with an art lesson on their luxury Catamaran. $5 donation per child includes an art lesson and 2.5 hours whale watching adventure for kids ages 3-12 years (Children must be accompanied by a paying $45 adult ticket). Reservations are available by calling 800.979.3370 or online at www.danawharf.com.

Don’t want to get on a boat? Bring a pair of binoculars or borrow a pair at the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center. At the center, there is a long trail where whales can often be spotted with the use of binoculars along with children getting up close to native plants, birds, and small animals.

PostDivider12111

Water Taxi
Children will be thrilled to watch all the excitement happening in the harbor from the festival water taxi. The taxi runs from the Ocean Institute and Dana Wharf from 10am to 4pm. A round trip ticket on the water taxi is $5 per person. Families with an OCTA bus pass or 91 Express Lanes transponder can ride the taxi for $3 per person round trip.

PostDivider12111

Art
March 7, 8, 14, 15
Local artists and students will have their artwork displayed on the grass area at the corner of Island Way and Dana Point Harbor Drive from 10am to 5pm. Children can learn how to make origami art during the free art sessions at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 3pm each day.

PostDivider12111

Entertainment
There will be live entertainment daily during the festival.

PostDivider12111

Walking Tour
March 7, 8
The Dana Point Historical Society is offering a free walking tour at 2pm. The tour will meet at 34091 Pacific Coast Highway (corner of Blue Lantern and PCH). Donations are gladly accepted.

PostDivider12111

Polynesian Connection
March 7th
The Hula Connection (Leinani Hula Hui’ana) presents a day of Polynesian culture, live entertainment, music, dance, food, drink and hands-on educational experiences. The event will be located at the Baby Beach from 10am to 4pm. In the evening, enjoy an authentic luau at the OC Sailing and Events Center from 5:30 to 9pm. The luau is $50 (adults) and $25 (children).

PostDivider12111

Classic Cars and Vintage Boats
March 7th and 8th
The So Cal Woodies will be on display from 10am to 4pm for families to see. There will also be classic boat vessels along the harbor walkway.

March 14th and 15th
The Southern California Classic Car Club will display a variety of classic and hot rod cars (including the renowned Batmobile) from 10am to 3pm.

PostDivider12111

Kids Adventure Expo/Carnival
March 8th
Dana Wharf is hosting a fun Kids Expo from 10am to 4pm with a rock wall, hamster ball, and giant slide.

March 14
Capt. Dave is hosting a kid’s carnival from 12pm to 2pm. There will be a bounce house, crafts, and prizes.

PostDivider12111

Diamond Dig
March 8th
Bring your children dressed like a pirate to the Baby Beach from 11:30-1pm to dig for treasures. Admission is $10 per person, and prizes range from toys to bicycles.

PostDivider12111

Mobile Marine Mammal Museum
March 15th
Explore marine mammals at the Doheny State Beach’s Mobile Marine Mammal Museum from 11am to 3pm. The museum will be located at the Doheny State Beach Visitor Center, and parking is limited to one hour.

PostDivider12111

Beach Cleanup
March 14th
If your kids have not yet participated in a beach cleaning..now is a great time to start. Bring your gloves and bag to help clean Doheny State Beach from 9am to noon. Families can meet Ranger Vicki at the Lifeguard Headquarters to get started.

PostDivider12111

Food

March 14th
4th Annual Whale of a Clam Chowder Cook-Off from 10am to 2pm at the Baby Beach grass area. Tastings are $10 to taste every sample, and a beer garden is open to guests over the age of 21.

March 8th
Whale of a BBQ Delicious BBQ specialties at affordable prices will be served up from 11:30 AM to 4 PM adjacent to Baby Beach during Ocean Awareness Day.

March 8th
Whale of a Pancake Breakfast & Raffle with Entertainment, It will be located at the OC Sailing & Event Center’s Dana Cove Room from 8 AM – 11 AM. Adults $6, Children under 12 $3.

March 15th
Whale of a Concert BBQ Scrumptious BBQ specialties will be available from Noon to 5 PM. It will be located at the OC Sailing & Event Center adjacent to Baby Beach, including a Spirits Garden for those over 21 years old with a valid driver’s license.

PostDivider12111

Movie in the Park
March 7th

Disney’s “Little Mermaid” (rated G) will begin at 6:30pm at Lantern Bay Park (25111 Park Lantern, Dana Point). There will be free popcorn, and snacks will be available at an additional cost.

PostDivider12111

Parade
March 7th
The Festival of Whales Parade begins promptly at 10 AM with a route along Pacific Coast Highway beginning at Selva Road and ending at Golden Lantern in Dana Point. FREE shuttle service to and from Harbor parking lots will be available beginning one hour (9 AM) from the parade start time. Arrive early, enjoy breakfast harborside, board the free shuttle and then spend the day visiting all the great events located throughout the Harbor. Parade entrants are encouraged to embrace the Festival’s theme of Magical Migration when designing parade floats and costumes.

PostDivider12111

Rubber Ducky Derby
March 8th
Whale of a Rubber Ducky Derby will be held from 11AM – 2PM at Baby Beach. Duckies may be purchased in advance by contacting Joan Marie Kerr at 949-859-5706 or Freda D’Souza at 949-374-4944 or the day of the event at the DPWC station at Baby Beach. Prizes will be awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. $6 per Rubber Duck or 2 for $10. You do not need to be present to win. Funds raised through this event will be donated to the Dana Point Library’s Children’s Summer Reading Program. www.danapointwomensclub.org.

PostDivider12111

Sand Sculpting
March 8th
Whale of a Sand Sculpting Competition 8 AM to 2:30 PM on Baby Beach. It is a great event for teams of every kind – from families and friends to hardcore sand sculpting enthusiasts. Sculpting creation areas limited to 20 plots of 15’ x 15’ each – first come, first serve! Choose one of the four categories: Castles, Whales and Ocean Creatures, Pirates and Ships or Woodies and Surfboards. Contestants start at 8 am, and judging begins at 2:30 with awards to follow. Bring your own buckets and tools, dyes and stabilizers not allowed – all natural. Sand provided free!

PostDivider12111

Ocean Institute Events..
March 7, 8, 14, 15
During the festival weekends, a hands-on journey into the mysterious and captivating world of whales will allow visitors to explore a variety of fascinating phenomena unique to these magnificent animals. Guests follow the migration of the grey whale as they move through the facility, starting in Baja, moving on to the California Coast, and ending up in Alaska.

Along the way, there will be opportunities to investigate how whales communicate and eat, to see how changes to the marine environment affect them, and to learn about ongoing research. Guests can even participate in our Whale of a Tale educational craft activity room for a suggested minimal fee.

Additional activities include hands-on dissections, animal feedings, ROV driving, and touch tanks in which guests touch live sea stars and other tide pool animals. You might even get a glimpse of our new and improved lobby and courtyard coming in Spring 2015!

March 14th& 15th include a mermaid exhibit and story time in which guests can learn about the value of recycling from a ‘real mermaid.’ Guests can take pictures with our friend from the sea and learn about human impact on whales. Public hours are extended from 10am to 4pm.

Non-member Admission: $6.50 adults, $4.50 children 12 & under. Member Admission: $4.50 adults, $2 children 12 & under. Children 2 and under are free. For more information or reservations, please go to www.ocean-institute.org or call (949) 496-2274.

*Admission includes entrance to the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center, Barn, and on Sundays only, tours onboard Pilgrim.

March 7, 8, 14, 15
Whale of a Tale Craft in the Ocean Institute
Join us in a room filled with stories and fantasy as guests make a variety of up-cycled whale crafts and learn about the values of recycling. Guests can come to a story reading and then make their own coordinating whale, or simply wander in and make what they choose.

Craft choices include:

Egg Carton Whale-Recycle used egg cartons as you make this adorable ‘mini’ whale spouting water.
Clothespin Whale- Participants learn how different whales eat different foods based on their teeth and species as they create their own whale puppet. Your whale’s mouth opens and closes, revealing its tasty dinner inside.
Paper Plate Whale-Guests can make an adorable whale out of a paper plate and review whale anatomy as they assemble its body.
Paper Bag Whale-Turn paper lunch bags into cute paper bag whales and fill them with recycled newspaper. Learn about the difference between fish tails and mammal tails as you build your paper bag whale.
Explore the rest of the Ocean Institute or read an educational children’s book while you wait for your craft to dry!

$2 suggested donation for craft expenses and to support Ocean Institute educational programs. Story times are at 11AM, 12PM, 1PM, 2PM, and 3PM, but guests can make crafts from 10AM until 4PM as they choose. For more information or reservations, please go to www.ocean-institute.org or call (949) 496-2274.

March 7, 8, 14, 15
Ocean Institute-Maddie James Seaside Learning Center
Discover the Citizen Science that actively happens at the Ocean Institute as you learn about the effects humans have on local watersheds. Join in Plate Watch and help us count invasive species in local fouling communities. Tour times TBA.

From 10AM-12PM enjoy our new wharf and experience life as a sailor onboard a whaling vessel with whaling artifacts and trying your hand at hauling on a line. Sing a sea chantey and perform a sailor jig to help pass the time. For more information or reservations, please go to www.ocean-institute.org or call (949) 496-2274.

March 7, 8, 14, 15
Ocean Institute-Pilgrim and Barn Activities
Enter our barn and step into a different world: the challenging life of a sailor. Experience existence onboard a square-rig brig as you try your hand at climbing in our practice yard and pass the time with knots and rope-work. Make your own scrimshaw medallion for a minimal additional fee TBA.

Saturdays watch crew members demonstrate how to climb aloft at 11AM. On Sundays, guests can participate in tours on board the Pilgrim, going below decks and learning about various parts of the ship and its history. Tour times TBA.

* Included with general admission to the Ocean Education Center:
Non-member Admission: $6.50 adults, $4.50 children 12 & under. Member Admission: $4.50 adults, $2 children 12 & under. Children 2 and under are free. For more information or reservations, please go to www.ocean-institute.org or call (949) 496-2274.

March 7
Whale’s Tale Tallship Sailing Adventure
From “Devil Fish” to “Friendliest Whale,” explore how time and discovery have shaped man’s perception of the magnificent Gray Whale. Join us for an exciting tall ship sailing adventure as you gain new insights into man’s evolving relationship with the ocean and the giants that roam our California Coast. Join us for a pre-sail whaling talk in the boathouse at 12:15 PM, with sailing from 1 PM to 3:30 PM.

Cost for Non-members: $40 adults, $23 children 12 & under.
Cost for Members: $36 adults, $21 children 12 & under (min. age 4).
For more information or reservations, please go to www.ocean-institute.org or call (949) 496-2274.

March 8
Facts & ‘Fin’tasea Sailing Adventure
How are humans impacting our friends in the sea? Find out when a ‘real mermaid’ shares facts about her friends and ways you can help protect not only the whales, but all of the animals in the ocean. During your sail onboard our tall ship, the Spirit of Dana Point, guests will learn about man’s ever changing connection with the sea and its mysterious creatures. Join our mermaid for a pre-sail talk at 12:15 PM, with sailing from 1 PM to 3:30 PM.

Cost for Non-members: $40 adults, $23 children 12 & under.
Cost for Members: $36 adults, $21 children 12 & under (min. age 4).
For more information or reservations, please go to www.ocean-institute.org or call (949) 496-2274.

March 14
LiteraSea Sailing Adventure: Moby Dick & The Essex
If you enjoyed reading Herman Melville’s Moby Dick or look forward to seeing Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea, then this is the sail for you. Re-enact life onboard the Essex, an 1820s whaling ship that inspired Moby Dick. Watch literature and history come to life as you sail onboard our tall ship, the Spirit of Dana Point. Join us for a pre-sail whaling talk in the boathouse at 12:15 PM, with sailing from 1 PM to 3:30 PM.

Cost for Non-members: $40 adults, $23 children 12 & under.
Cost for Members: $36 adults, $21 children 12 & under (min. age 4).
For more information or reservations, please go to www.ocean-institute.org or call (949) 496-2274.

March 15
Two Years Before the Mast: A Tallship Sailing Adventure
You have watched students reenact life as a sailor onboard the Pilgrim, you have heard about Richard Henry Dana Jr.’s book, Two Years Before the Mast, and now it is your turn to experience life as a sailor in the 1830s. Come relive the adventure and learn about Dana Point’s history in a hands-on and interactive way as you haul lines and sail onboard our tallship, the Spirit of Dana Point. Will you survive for two hours before the mast? Join us for a pre-sail history talk in the boathouse at 12:15 PM, with sailing from 1 PM to 3:30 PM.

Cost for Non-members: $40 adults, $23 children 12 & under.
Cost for Members: $36 adults, $21 children 12 & under (min. age 4).
For more information or reservations, please go to www.ocean-institute.org or call (949) 496-2274.

Facts and information provided on behalf of the Dana Point Festival of Whales

Sign Up for Our Newsletter
Connect With Us


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *