Sun, sand, and surf are all yours for the taking in both the gorgeous southern California cities of Dana Point and Laguna Beach. Here’s just a small sampling of the best things to see and do in each of these coastal communities.

Dana Point

Waves crashing on Dana point in California

Home to a bustling harbor, Dana Point will make all of your nautical dreams come true with dolphin, whale-watching, and dinner cruises. Plus there are some funky boutiques and great restaurants.

Local surfers head to Salt Creek Beach to catch some of the best waves around, while wide-eyed spectators stop by to watch the action (or just catch some rays).

Less than three miles away, you’ll find Mission San Juan Capistrano, a historic Spanish settlement that’s been preserved since 1776. The mission is a unique and memorable way to spend an afternoon, with education and fun for the whole family. 

Once you’ve gotten a taste of Dana Point, hop on a ferry to Catalina Island for a perfectly lovely day trip. There’s everything from hiking and fishing to shopping and upscale dining.

Laguna Beach

teal and blue waters on Laguna Beach in California

You might be familiar with this seaside city from the MTV reality show, Laguna Beach. But, it has so much more to offer than fake tans and fake drama.

Start with a visit to the city’s namesake beach. You can sunbathe, surf, or play some volleyball. Then, check out Heisler Park, which combines gorgeous landscapes, walking trails, and gardens with artistic touches like sculptures and painted benches.

Speaking of art, you can get your fill of culture at Laguna’s plethora of galleries, which include Cove Gallery, Floating Cloud Studio Gallery, and Kush Fine Art. For a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience, attend a performance of Pageant of the Masters. This production, held during the annual summer Festival of Arts, recreates famous paintings with live actors.

Grab a bite and a mojito, and take in the views at Rooftop Bar and Restaurant, a popular local spot, before heading to Crescent Bay Point Park to watch the sunset. The park sits above a bluff and looks out at the Pacific Ocean, making for the perfect end to any day.