SoCal Prime: Doheny State Park in Dana Point, CA
When most people envision Orange County California, usually the first thing that comes to mind is Laguna Beach, an upscale, high fashion crowned jewel of the Pacific Coast in which movie stars reside and hit TV reality shows are born. Laguna is without a doubt a prime example of SoCal's finest, an aesthetically pleasing physical location and attractive destination where celluloid celebs can be seen, encountered, and candidly photographed as they stroll down the sidewalks while shopping and perusing the world famous boutiques, and dining on exquisite cuisine prepared by top notch chefs. All this is irrefutably true, a cherished experience for the fortuitous visitor which can top off an incredibly fulfilling vacation or day trip, but just a short distance to the north, sits one of her lesser known, yet equally beautiful sisters, Doheny State Beach.
Donated by Edward L. Doheny in 1931, the venue is situated within the immaculately maintained Doheny State Park, a beautiful 62 acre swath of ocean side property conveniently located between Laguna Beach and Corona Del Mar. Doheny is perfectly positioned to serve the community not only as an aesthetic enchantment, but as one of the areas most practical, all purpose "utility" beaches. Although the seaside wildlife is plentiful and the sands are cast unto the shoreline with an artists touch, it's not considered a "model" beach like others in the area, or a place to just photograph and admire from afar without disturbing the landscape. Doheny is a place where surfers can surf, campers can camp, and kids of all ages can roust about in the sand and waves until their hearts content. Just about any beach activity you can think of, can be pursued with great fervor, right here.
While the park is used for many different leisurely functions and exciting outdoor activities, it still somehow manages to maintain a relatively peaceful, and to a certain degree serene setting. The center of the park is where most of the activities like surfing, volleyball, and frisbee take place, but if you walk around the outskirts, you will discover small pockets of indigenous marine wildlife resting, eating, and even nesting in secluded micro sanctuaries. These random pockets of splendor consisting of naturally enriched soils, brush, greenery, and other essential organic ingredients, become more accessible and easily visible when the ocean recedes during low tide, and small salt water wading pools are unveiled. This precise point in time presents the perfect opportunity for artists and sight seers alike to observe and photograph this ebb and flow of Doheny delights without having to endure the mild inconvenience of encountering view impeding obstacles. These quiet, yet vibrantly active sanctuaries provide the perfect habitat within a conducive eco-system for local and migrating birds, and various species of smaller sized wildlife to congregate, rest, and bathe. A pit stop before taking flight and moving on to their next destination.
If you're a pet owner, you will be very pleased to learn that a seemingly fair balance has been struck regarding dogs. According to the official web site, they are allowed on the camp grounds and picnic area with a leash as requirement and they must be attended to at all times, but they are not allowed on the beach itself. So remember, if you plan on bringing your dog, please don't forget the leash to avoid an unnecessary inconvenience, or possibly even an event changing circumstance. When it's time to cool off, you can do so with confidence, there are lifeguard stations with a 360 degree view of the entire beach so you and the kids can swim or body surf with peace of mind knowing well trained rescue personal are constantly scanning the beach to ensure your safety and prevent any potential incidents or accidents.
I've been to the park on several occasions for recreational purposes and also to gather information to prepare this article, and after recalling my personal experiences I can say with great confidence there is something for just about everyone at Doheny Beach and the activity of your choice awaits, even if that activity is laser focused on simply pulling up a comfortable lounge chair with your feet dangling and splashing at the waters edge while soaking up the warm, golden California sunshine. Doheny is just an all around fun place to spend some quality time with friends or family, a fantastic day trip for Southern Californian's, and a therapeutically warm and cozy get away destination for out of state snowbirds.
Hours / Admission Fees / Parking
- Open All Year - 7 Days A Week
- Hours - 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
- Parking - Paid Only - Good Access
- Admission Fees Vary
Park Info: 949-496-6171
Amenities / Things to do
- Body Surfing
- Camping ( Check Fee Schedule )
- Picnic Tables
- Snack Bar
<> Nearby Attractions / Overview <>
Doheny State Park & Beach is one of Orange County's premier locations and destinations for both Californians, and snowbirds from all over the world who wish to escape colder climates. A one mile stretch of picturesque Pacific Ocean which is typical SoCal, yet totally unique as all west coast beaches seem to be. It's also within a short drive or walking distance to some of SoCal's prime tourist attractions, shopping venues, and restaurants. Laguna Beach just to the south and Newport Beach to the north, both are home to a boutique lovers bonanza. If you're looking for a new set of silverware, hand made crafts, a work of art by your favorite or local painter, or even the most rare of antiques, chances are it can be found here. As an extra added attraction, if you're an avid people watcher or admirer of the celeb scene, the only other place on earth I can think of where there are more celebrities per square mile, is Beverly Hills. So if you didn't get the chance to rub elbows with or get that fleeting glimpse of a famous celebrity at the airport when you arrived, this wealth and celeb magnet of a place may present several opportunities to briefly chat with or shake the hand of your favorite television or movie star. It's not uncommon to walk into any one of a number of quaint shops and cross paths with a high profile personality, or famous athlete.
Mission San Juan Capistrano, a short drive to the south is another SoCal prime landmark which is well worth a visit. A place where beautiful indigenous botanical gardens grow throughout the grounds, architectural wonders abound, including alters and well preserved places of worship which are open to the public for a unique spiritual experience and momentary glimpse into the past. This historical site is a must see when visiting. If you plan your visit at just the right time in March, you may even get the universally envied chance to watch one of natures most incredible sights, the swallows instinctively returning home to their mission after a long arduous year of migration. The number of attractions and things to do in and around Doheny State Park are virtually infinite. In the future, I will publish several more informative articles which will document my personal perspective regarding the SoCal Prime Experience right here in the Golden State, and the entire West Coast. There really is nothing like it in the entire world, Orange County, the only place I've ever visited where near perfection in every way has nearly been achieved.
Doheny State Park
25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive
Dana Point, Ca. 92629
*Adjacent to Laguna Beach on Pacific Coast Highway ( PCH )*
Doheny State Park
- Doheny Surf Report and Surf Cam | SURFLINE.COM
Free Doheny surf report updated daily. Watch the live Doheny surf cam now so you can make the call before you go surfing today.
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I sincerely hope you've enjoyed the 1960's "Retro" flavor & feel to this article - It was a pleasure to capture such awe inspiring photographs of stunningly beautiful Orange County California in the technologically raging 21st Century, only to roll back the visual ambiance by using skillful electronic caressing - A sense of calm, a more relaxed ease of pace, please take a few moments to absorb modern images presented within the context of a sentimental time gone by.
Alternative Prime has lived in Orange County California for over three decades and has experienced just about everything this west coast paradise has to offer all of its fortunate residents, and eagerly enthusiastic visitors alike - From the sun drenched weather perfected beaches, to the snow capped majestic mountain ranges perched effortlessly above the gentle cloud cover to the north, to the exotic, mystically therapeutic & healing arid desert playgrounds situated to the northeast of the county - You are cordially invited to join Alternative Prime as we embark upon future exploration & documentation of this breathtakingly scenic Pacific Coast Wonder -